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180 Degrees Rule

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John Frank
180 Degrees Rule
on Mar 16, 2009 at 10:33:10 pm

Hey, I've been confused by this lately... I've been seeing some videos that look good that arn't obeying this rule, and I'm wondering if it only applys to certain scenes? :: I've watched a video where it's showing an item upclose, then the scene cuts to the complete opposite side of the item (but kind of did it with motion) but the other side had details the other side didn't, and it generally didn't look wrong or anything when that happened.. Also in a scene of people talking, then it shows a camera from far above (building height) of the opposite direction again, but it looked okay. I can see the differents of what breaking the rule does when you have 2 people talking, but it's been hard to tell for me in different types of scenes... What do you guys think? Am I always suppose to follow this rule?



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Rick Wise
Re: 180 Degrees Rule
on Mar 16, 2009 at 10:40:51 pm

Like all "rules," the 180ยบ rule is meant to be broken. The true test: does the cut work, or does it confuse the viewer? There are many, many ways to "break" the rule and get away with it. One you site: cut to a very long shot on the "other" side. Then cut back in, now on the other side, or possibly even on the old side. Also, cut to a detail of something in the scene, then cut back to the dialog on the "other" side. For example, one of the characters is holding a book and talking about it. Cut to his/her pov of the book, then cut back to the "other" side. Etc.

Rick Wise
director of photography
and custom lighting design
Oakland, CA
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.recessionvideo.net
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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John Frank
Re: 180 Degrees Rule
on Mar 16, 2009 at 11:44:08 pm

I've been holding 2 different water bottles up comparing different angles for like 10 minutes trying to understand this rule lol.
I just watched this



(The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Finale) and they did it a few times there, but it all seemed to work out. Quick question: at 3:02, to 3:12 in that clip are they breaking the rule? Or does the line always start from the width of the presented scene? (Curious about this because I thought the line would be from eye contact to eye contact no matter how their placed) Argh so confusing.

The goal were trying to reach is to make the footage flow together right? I watched a few videos with the rule being broken constantly and it was hard for me to keep up with what was happening, then I watched a video where it was being done perfect and it seemed easy to keep up with.

I have a video I made where a guy is riding a bike, it has a view of his back and he's on the left side, then a view of his front but he's on the right side, is that bad to do? It seemed to cut smoothly I didn't notice any jerks



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Rick Wise
Re: 180 Degrees Rule
on Mar 17, 2009 at 12:25:59 am

I think you are sweating too hard over this issue. The true test: does it cut so that the viewer knows where the characters are in relation to each other? Or do we become confused and disorientated. You can always cut to a wide shot to clear up any confusion. You can, as is done here, also cut to extreme closeups of guns, eyes, etc. When you have more than 2 people in the scene, the screen direction can get much more complicated. Imagine what happens when you have 5 or six. Directors will sometimes cover close-ups with the actors looking in opposite directions just to cover their buts in post. Things get even more difficult when an actor is NOT looking at one of the other characters.

I think there are a couple of times in your Good, Bad clip when the screen direction is not observed. As Clint might say, there are two kinds of editors: those who are slave to the rules (and have no bullets), and those who make films.



Rick Wise
director of photography
and custom lighting design
Oakland, CA
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.recessionvideo.net
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Richard Herd
Re: 180 Degrees Rule
on Mar 17, 2009 at 7:15:22 pm

In my opinion, the filmmaker crossed the lines because this is a gun fight. It's supposed to be a complicated and confusing game of "chess" between equal combatants. The filmmaker wanted the audience to feel/experience what the gunfighters are feeling/experiencing.



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grinner hester
Re: 180 Degrees Rule
on Mar 17, 2009 at 11:45:53 pm

Any art that pretends to have rules should be laughed at by all. Dude there are no rules. Your job is to make it cool without restricting yourselve to what old dudes before you would have done. They'd have the gig if that's what was wanted so feel free to evolve.



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Rick Wise
Re: 180 Degrees Rule
on Mar 18, 2009 at 2:59:05 am

Any artist who pretends that there are no rules is the one to be laughed at. All of us face and live with rules. A few make new ones. Or just break the old ones, as did Orson Wells, Bergman, Godard. Tarantino, to name just a few.

Rick Wise
director of photography
and custom lighting design
Oakland, CA
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.recessionvideo.net
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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grinner hester
Re: 180 Degrees Rule
on Mar 18, 2009 at 3:53:10 pm

Any artist who abides by rules is limiting himself and that is not an art at all.
If rules applied, our clients could simply read them and apply them themselves. Artists adapt to content on the fly, grabbing the best of the best in nano seconds. Should that mean a cutawy opposite the direction of my last shot, so be it. I'd never discard the best shot because a book written in the 50s said it would not be cool.
Limiting your capabilities will indeed limit your income.
The only real rules that exist are make it look the best it can, meet the deadline and try to come within budget. Follow those three rules and your golden.



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Richard Herd
Re: 180 Degrees Rule
on Mar 18, 2009 at 5:00:44 pm

"When style is exaggerated and obvious, the work becomes nothing but pure nostalgia." -- Albert Camus



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Steve Wargo
Re: 180 Degrees Rule
on Mar 23, 2009 at 4:54:52 am

The 180 degree rule is a guideline. You can break it through proper creativity. Most people do not know how to do it and they do it wrong. That's why it called a rule. Basically, you don't want two people in a conversation to be looking the same way on camera because it will look like they are both talking to a third person, off camera. One way to introduce the other side is to go to a wide shot to bring in the second angle. As I said, it can be done but it's got to be done right.



Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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