Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Where to put faces in a video frame

As I was watching a preview for "The Newsroom" the other night, the way the director framed faces in interviews really impressed me. It made me think about how a video appears on a smartphone is so different from the way it appears on a nice big computer monitor, which is where most online video is edited.

Here are some interview shots from the preview.

Shooting against a white background makes the images pop, of course, but how the videographer and director put the faces in the frame are what make these so striking. Notice how the faces fill so much of the frame in the second and third shots because the director used the lens to crop the top of the actors' heads. Even with the camera pulled back, Jeff Daniels fills a lot of the frame because his gestures are given room. All three are off center, which makes the images more dynamic than if they were centered. The first and third are a little directional, bringing the viewer's eye across the frame.

Contrast these with three recent shots from theorion.com video features:

The first leaves too much frame. The second is centered. The third does a good job with filling the frame with the subject and uses soft focus on the background to create interest on the subject. It does the best job of creating a visually interesting arrangement of the interviewee in the frame.

Videographers should think about the differences between these two sets of images the next time they shoot an interview.

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