Visual Literacy
How do I make meaning


Rule of 3rds

Keeping your subject constantly in the middle of the screen can make for a boring movie. The viewer’s eyes need to move around the screen so that the placement of subject in the frame is constantly changing with each shot. Applying the rule of thirds can help to avoid the problem of visually dull movies.

To do this, you split the frame into three sections vertically and horizontally as illustrated below. The most significant part of the picture should be placed where the lines intersect. Try to put your subjects on the lines instead of in the middle when you are shooting. With the horizontal lines it is best to place your subject either in the top or bottom third of the frame.

     
     
     
The images below illustrate some of the principles of the rule of thirds.
Avoid putting your moving subject in the middle. This is viewed as an uninteresting and boring image.
In this picture the eye is drawn to the top-left part of the picture with the subject placed on the intersecting lines.
The subjects run along the vertical lines and the image is balanced.
When shooting landscapes you need to decide where to place the horizon. If you wanted to emphasize the sky because of a sunset or cloud formation you would place it in the top two thirds of the picture. As an establishing shot or end shot for your film a large expanse of blue sky could be used for the titles or credits in your movie.
This picture is split neatly into thirds. The sky occupies the top third of the picture, the mountains the middle third and the foreground the bottom third.