The following lesson was created by Vimeo for its Vimeo Video School. It’s used here with permission. Look for a new lesson each week.
Continuity is a big part of filmmaking. If you’re shooting a short film or interview, it’s important to set the scene and establish your characters in space and time in order for the viewer to follow the action. One of the most basic continuity rules is the 180 Degree Rule.
The 180 Degree Rule states that two characters in a scene should always have the same left/right relationship to each other. If you don’t follow the 180 Degree Rule, or break it intentionally, it disrupts the scene and disorients the audience. When you break the 180 line, a person who was originally facing left in a scene is all of the sudden facing right. Wait! When did they switch places?
Still not sure on the 180 Degree Rule? Watch this awesome explanation by Vimeo member Peter John Ross.
When you shoot a scene with actors imagine a line extending out between them. You can move your camera anywhere along that line, as long as you don’t cross over the line to the other side. Feel free to refer to the diagram above if you need a reminder!