The Rule of Thirds: What It Is and How to Use It


Whether you're just beginning to dabble in video editing or you're continuing to hone your skills, you've likely heard of a concept called the rule of thirds. But what exactly is it? And how does it apply to photos or videos?

In this guide, we'll define the rule of thirds and help you apply it to your own projects, so you can up your video editing game.

What is the rule of thirds?

The rule of thirds is a compositional element commonly used in both photography and videography to help frame the shot. It's accomplished by dividing your camera's field of view into thirds both horizontally and vertically, creating an imaginary 9-square grid, and positioning the subject or other areas of focus for the shot along the grid lines or at their intersections. 

If you've ever used a camera that has grid lines in the viewfinder, you may have already come across a rule of thirds grid without realizing what it was for or how to use it. While not every camera will have this feature, it's just as easy to imagine the rule of thirds grid as you take a photo or record a video — think of a tic-tac-toe board over your field of view that divides the frame into a 3x3 grid.

The rule of thirds is an easy way to get started with video composition and acts as a guideline to help you create more professional-looking shots.

Why is the rule of thirds important?

Implementing the rule of thirds will help you create a more polished image or video. This style of composition creates visually appealing imagery because the subject is not fully centered in the frame. Instead, the viewer's eye will naturally gravitate to where the imaginary grid lines or focal points are in the shot, so using the rule of thirds helps to create a more natural aesthetic. 

This is also a great way to help the viewer take in the whole scene instead of fixating on one solitary point of focus. Framing the important elements in your shot along the grid will allow for more creative uses of space, and flexibility for your subject to interact with their surroundings or show relevant objects, actions, or landscapes in the background.

How do you use the rule of thirds in video?

You can apply the rule of thirds to your video projects either during the recording process or afterward as you edit the video. While practicing the concept as you shoot a clip or scene for your video production can help you garner more control over the outcome of the finished product, it's also quite possible to tighten up any video frames in post-production to give them a more polished look. Don't worry if your original shots aren't perfect, because more often than not, they can be easily cleaned up and changed to your liking during the editing process.

It's important to remember that while the rule of thirds is a great compositional guideline to follow when lining up a shot, it's not necessary to follow it to the tee every single time. Rules can be stylistically broken in certain cases to manipulate the feeling or tone of your shot to create the exact outcome you're looking for in your finished video.

Conclusion

The rule of thirds is a great starting point and introduction to video framing techniques and compositional styles. This concept is easy to get started with, and with continued practice, you can further enhance your videography skills and delve into more elements of composition and stylistic techniques over time. Learn and master the basics of video creation, and you'll be one step closer to developing your own personal style and truly make it your own!

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