In filmmaking, the 180-degree rule is an on-screen spatial relationship between a subject and another subject or object within a scene. By keeping the camera on one side of an imaginary axis between two characters, the first character is always frame right of the second character.
The 180 Degree rule in cinema is the most basic rule but it plays a very crucial role in filmmaking. The 180-degree rule is all about the positioning of the camera in accordance with the subject.
The 180-degree rule is a basic guideline where the cinematographer checks the left and right relationship between two or more characters. In this an imaginary line is drawn to try and keep the camera on just one side of that imaginary line, the reason is quite simple, the position of the characters must be established properly and their viewing or angle must be correct. This rule can be better explained with the help of an example: Considering that there are two characters, Person A and Person B, an imaginary line is to be drawn and then the movement of the camera is limited to just one side of the line/axis. There is no specific way to write it down on the script but while making the storyboard this rule or condition can be mentioned through drawing or images.
When the rule is not applied or followed, the result can be confusing for the audience as then both of the characters appear to be looking in the same direction. There are times when the makers deliberately break this rule. Here are some of the scenarios in which this rule is broken deliberately.
1. When a continuous sequence is being shot and the camera is moving to the other side of the line.
2. When using a cutaway.
3. When somehow the surrounding and visual layout is pre-established, it often becomes easier for the editor to select the shot.
This can be described in even more simpler terms further. While looking at a sequence if the viewer doesn’t see or feel any sort of an abrupt jerk or jump and the sequence is running pretty smoothly then it indicates that everything is on the right track. This explanation can be further elaborated with the help of an example – If a person is going to his office and is walking from left to the right direction in a particular frame, then on his way back he will enter the frame from right and exit through left of the frame, these visuals indicate that he is coming back from the office. The 180-degree rule is used while pre-production and throughout production, but as we all know a picture is tailored on the editing table, the editor should also be well aware and well-read about the rules, after all stitching a cloth without proper measurement will end up in a disaster. As an editor one has ample amount of footage so they must know when and how to cut the shot properly and also how to overrule it.
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