The Rule of Thirds: How and Why to Use it in Video Production

If you're a budding filmmaker looking for ways to make your videos look more professional, you may want to consider making use of the rule of thirds. Understanding the rule of thirds in video production is simple, but takes a bit of practice to truly master. 

To put the rule of thirds to use, first divide the framing of your shot into equal thirds both horizontally and vertically. Then, place the most important parts of your shot either along those imaginary lines or on the intersection points. This rule will help you to divide your shots perfectly without having to guess.

Why the rule of thirds is important in video

The importance of the rule of thirds in video production when it comes to composing your shots can't be overstated. Not only will following the rule of thirds create a shot that is pleasing to the eye, it will also give your shots a feeling of motion.

When objects are centered in frame, the eye tends to stick there. The background and anything else in the shot might be overlooked, which can be unfortunate if you've put effort into creating meaningful set design or there's something else happening in the shot that you want viewers to notice. Off-centered subjects, on the other hand, allow the eye to more easily move around the image rather than remaining static. This can be useful to show off an interesting background, heighten the motion of an action taking place, or simply create a more aesthetically pleasing image.

How to use the rule of thirds in video production

Using the rule of thirds while shooting doesn't have to be a struggle, but it does take practice. Begin by choosing what part of the composition you want to be the focal point of the image. This may be a character, an object, a building, or whatever your scene dictates. Then, you'll want to place the focal point so it lines up with one of the horizontal or vertical lines or the intersection of two lines.

For example, a character may be lined up with the leftmost vertical line, while the horizon could be lined up with the bottom horizontal line. It all depends what works best for your shot.

Some cameras make it even easier to follow the rule of thirds with a built in nine square grid in the viewfinder. Even without a built in grid you can still achieve similar results. Just remember to mentally divide the frame into three parts both horizontally and vertically and place the focal point of your shot in line, and you'll be well on your way to a beautifully composed video.

Don't worry, though, if you start the editing process and find your shots aren't following the rule of thirds as much as you hoped. Almost anything can be changed or fixed during editing, so you may just need to take a few extra minutes to tweak the framing of a shot. Cropping in a bit tighter should give you a bit of wiggle room to change the framing, but be careful not to do too much that you change the overall look and feel of a shot.


With practice, you'll be able to gain a keen sense of how to make use of the rule of thirds. Not only will the rule of thirds help improve your cinematography skills, it's also a great way to get you thinking about the ways shot composition can add another level to your work. Once you have a thorough understanding, you can even begin to break the rule of thirds in your videos in specific ways to enhance the mood of a shot, create discomfort, or any number of other things. Then, you'll truly be a master of using the rule of thirds in video production.

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