Creative Camera Framing for Video | Jordy Vandeput | Skillshare

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Creative Camera Framing for Video

teacher avatar Jordy Vandeput, Filmmaker and Youtuber

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      What is Framing?


    • 2.

      Foreground Objects


    • 3.



    • 4.

      Viewing space


    • 5.

      Cutting in the Frame


    • 6.

      High & Low Angle


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About This Class

Camera framing and compositions are done by following a set of rules. In this class we'll explore some practical examples where you can break these rules.


You cannot break the rules of film-making, unless you have a visual story to tell. That's why we first define a visual story and then see which kind of creative framing we can apply.


The class is a recording from a 25 minute workshop. We've cut the different topics out in separate lessons. We don't go too in depth,  which makes the class perfectly suitable for any beginner.

Meet Your Teacher

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Jordy Vandeput

Filmmaker and Youtuber

Top Teacher

Hi, I'm Jordy and I hosts one of the biggest YouTube channels about filmmaking & video editing; Cinecom.

With more than 2.5 million subscribers, we publish weekly tutorial videos. After graduating from film school in 2012, I immediately began teaching online where my real passion lays.

I've never liked the way education works. So I wanted to do something about it. With the classes I produce, I try to separate myself from the general crowd and deliver a class experience rather than some information thrown at a student.

Take a look at my unique classes, I'm sure you'll enjoy :-)

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Level: Beginner

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1. What is Framing?: Hey guys, it's Jordy here for In this workshop we're going to take a look at Creative Camera Framing. But before we are going to start with being creative, we first have to understand the very basics of what framing is, and after that we can start drawing outside of the picture or breaking the rules of film-making. Right here is Justine, this is our studio model and over there we have a camera and we're going to focus solely on framing a subject. Typical for interviews or drama scenes for fiction series, anything like that. Let's get started with what is framing. Let's point Justine here towards the camera like this, and let's make a framing of her. With framing we just mean pointing the camera towards Justine. Like that. Is this now a proper framing? Well, not exactly. I'm just pointing the camera towards her, I'm not framing her properly and that's telling a visual story. Though in order to tell a correct visual story, we can call up a guideline called the rule of thirds and you can call it up inside your camera but also on your monitor if you have a third-party monitor. It will look like a grid, like this here. You have two horizontal and two vertical lines. We can use these lines to align a certain object or anything where the interest of the audience is at on those lines. When we are looking at Justine normally we would look at her eyes, that's why we're also going to align her eyes on the upper horizontal line. Why the upper line? Well, let's frame her for a moment here on the bottom line, like this. Now we end up with too much head-space. Head space is the space above a subjects heads, right now it's just way too much, it's an empty space, we're not using that, and this shot just looks fairly abnormal. It's weird because she's just sticking there on the bottom. That's why we're going to align here on the upper line like that. What about the vertical lines? On which side should we place her? Well, actually, that depends on the viewing direction. Right now Justine is looking into the camera. Right now we could say that she would stand in the middle. This is correct. We don't need to place her on either one of these vertical lines. But when we are going to give her a viewing space by letting her view next to the camera, like this, now we are talking about viewing space and now we do have to align her on a site. Let's pick out the right line. Now we are giving her some viewing space. She has some space that she can look at. If I would place her onto a wrong site or the other site, now we are just left with an empty space behind her which we are not using. She is looking towards the ending of the frame, so she's closed in, we are left with is big space that we are not using, and that is feeling weird for the audience. But there's weird things actually a visual story that we're telling. We can use that visual storytelling in our benefits. Now we're going to take a look at how we can break this rule of thirds, and see how we can make some creative camera framings. 2. Foreground Objects: So now we're going to take a look at how we can break this rule of thirds and see how we can make some creative camera framings. I'm going to bring in a foreground object into the framing. There we go. So now we've got this plant in the foreground and we'll have Justine in the background like this. Now let's have a look at how that foreground is going to look in our framing. Now foreground objects are great. They give a lot of depth to our shots. Let me just make a framing like this. I'm going to focus on Justine. Having two objects in your shot, we could say that Justine is going to be placed on the left vertical line, and the foreground object, on the right vertical line. That could be correct. Though I do notice that Justine's viewing space is wrong, so I'm just going to let her point now to the right side of the framing like this. She's looking at the foreground object maybe. So let's make a framing here, something like this. There we go. So this could be correct. Justine on the left. The foreground object on the right. But there's something wrong with that foreground object. It's pretty prominent. That's the word that we're talking about now, a prominent foreground object. Now let's make that foreground object more subtle. Well, we can move that foreground object a little bit more to the side like this, but we're going to retain that rule of thirds. You can now see that that branch of the plant right now is sticking towards the right vertical line. So it's still making use of that rule of thirds, but not on that line. It's sticking towards that line. Now we can talk about a subtle foreground. This is good if your foreground object might not be that important. For example, it needs to be there for a guidance for the audience to know where the scene is taking place. For example, an over-shoulder shot which is very popular. But also, if this plant shows something about the location or something that it's not that important, it doesn't have to be prominent, but we do need to have that foreground in our shot. So now we're talking about a subtle foreground object. But once we are going to make it prominent by actually sticking it on that vertical line like this, now it becomes more important because we are making it prominent in the shots. This plant right now tells a bigger story. So this would be seen as something incorrect. You don't do this. You don't make your foreground object this prominent in your shots. However, we can do this if we want this foreground object to tell a bigger story. Sometimes this is done when, for example, let's move this plant to the background like this and Justine to the foreground. There we go. Justine suddenly walks into the framing. She's looking at that plant over there. She is now very prominent in the framing like this. She has just walked into the frame. Maybe Justine just ran into the framing just to tell, "Hey, I don't want to see that plant over there." She's taking a prominent role into the scene. That is what we are doing right here. But if she would just stick here on the right side of the framing, a subtle foreground object, something like this, then her visual storytelling is a little bit different. Now she might just come into the framing and say, "Hey, I don't really like that plant, but I'm just going to look from a distance to our set plant and see what happens." So there you can see how you can use foreground objects to tell a different visual story. 3. Headspace: On to the next trick about three different camera framing. I'm going to remove this foreground object. Let's place it in the back, and let's place Justine back on her spot. There we go. Looking great today, Justine. Look at this. She's wearing a nice dress, isn't she? Headspace, that's the next thing. We've just previously seen that we cannot give too much headspace, but also not too less of the headspace. Let me just close in on here a little bit more like that and I'm going to frame her properly. Let's start with this. I'm putting her eyes on the upper horizontal line. This is a correct framing. This is a nice, beautiful, academic way of framing your subject, but now, let's do something different. I'm going to tilt upwards and put her eyes on the bottom line. This is not correct. This is too much headspace. However, we can do this actually. Again, if you are telling a certain visual story, maybe Justine is thinking. She's trying to come up with a new idea and maybe she's also looking a bit upwards, if I can do that with this doll, and there we go. She is thinking. She's grabbing ideas out of the sky. Now, we can give her a little bit more headspace like that because she is picking up the ideas from that empty space above her. That is one way to tell your visual story and to break those academic film-making rules. But now, let's do the opposites here. I'm going to let Justine, again, look forward or maybe a little bit down and we're going to cut in her forehead like this, but this is, again, not a proper framing. We have actually our horizontal line now on her mouth. This is not correct. However, what does this visual story tell? Well, she's now canned in because we are cutting in her forehead. She might not feel well. She has no idea. She doesn't know where to go. She could be literally trapped or in her mind trapped because we are cutting in her forehead, and that is the visual story that we're telling right now. Even though this might not feel right for the audience, the audience might feel strange looking at this shot, but that's the exact thing that we want. The audience feels strange. They have a feeling and emotion, and that is the emotion that we want to bring over by making this visual framing. All right guys, so that was about the headspace. Now, let's have a look at viewing space. 4. Viewing space: We've already seen what viewing space is, and let's start off with the proper viewing space. You see the standing like this. She might be looking at an interviewer. I might be standing right here and I'm talking towards this team, and the camera is standing over here. She's looking off screen. That's what we what we talk about. She's looking with her face, that side and her body is also turns that way. Let's go back to the camera right here. Let's make a proper framing. I'm going to frame her on her right side, and put her ice on the upper horizontal line. There we go. Academically correct framing. I'm right now talking to her and this is all correct. She has a normal frame, but everything is focused on one site. All the information, everything that she does, everything that she talks about is thrown at one spot all the way to the left site. Now, in fiction or in a drama series, this might mean that she feels comfortable because she's pointing her whole body towards one sides. That means everyone who was in the back doesn't really care much. She's in a safe environment. Else you might stand like this, which are body to one side and her face looking to that side. Because if something would happen on her left side then she can turner heads quickly and look at that direction, but she's feeling safe right now. This is a very neutral posts, let's do, or let's change a little bit here. We're going to point her body towards the back like this. You have to be careful that I won't break her. There we go. I do go to trigger a tiny bit, but make sure that her head is looking at that side. Right now, her body is pointing to the right, but your faces looking to the left side. This makes something very interesting because we're now more opening up to framing. We are using more of that framing. Let's put her again, giving her correct fuming space like that. As you can see right now, we are using both sites. She's looking to the left. We are using that space, but she's also looking to the right. It's both ways. This gives the interesting aspect that we can now also frame her, on the left side. There we go. This is also academically correct because she's speaking towards two side and that way we can pick more without having the audience feel weird or without having an empty space. The space on the right side is now not empty because she's using that also to tell or to speak with her body. But now, let's make the audience feel weird again. I'm going to move over again. Put her in a neutral place like this. There we go. She is speaking with her body due to write site or to the left sites. Depends on how you're looking at her and what her head as well. There we go. Neutral posts, and right now, I'm going to frame her wrong and she's already on the spot I see here, this is frames wrong. We are not giving her viewing space, this feels awkward to the audience, but that's the exact thing that we want to bring over to the audience. You know, she's closed in again, we're canning or in the same thing as we were doing with the heads pace. You can play with this, giving her less headspace and less viewing space, making her being can then even more. But now , if you are doing this, you have to pay attention to the backgrounds because we are giving space to the background which is under back side or to the right side in the framing, because we had this empty space here on her back or on the right side of the framing. We have this huge information box over there. We can put something into background ever there which could get relevant to his story. For example, I could stand there, let me just the place myself right here. Now, I'm looking at her without her even knowing that I am here and now I'm making this space is relevant again to the story. Or we could just leave it empty. That way we are focusing even more on her reader canning her in even more because there's nothing on her back there when we talk about focusing on a subject or as a one last framing that we could do with this viewing space. That is actually framing her in the middle, because she's actually looking towards us a side, either the left or either to the right side. This doesn't feel natural. We are giving her not enough viewing space, but we're also not giving her enough or too much space on her empty space or on her back. This is not correct, even though we are framing hurt in the middle, and that actually means that we are going to focus everything on her. The audience doesn't feel like watching on the right side, neither on the left side. It's feeling weird. There's only one place we could look at, which is the middle. We're focusing everything on this subject. That might be interesting to know when, for example, if your subject is literally standing on a stage and you have a big audience, and the subject is going to be very tendentious for standing on that stage. All those eyeballs are pointed towards her. We can also frame her like this, making the audience feel what she feels by just framing her in the middle, focusing on her. Again, we are breaking the rules of film making, but we're doing it conscious. We know why we're breaking the rule of thirds making or creating a visual story. 5. Cutting in the Frame: The next framing technique is one of my favorites and that is actually cutting into the subject. So we're going to start off very basic have Justine, look at the framing like this. Perhaps move her a little bit closer to the camera because this technique right now is used more often in very close up shots. So we just bring the camera a little closer as well. There we go, a close-up of Justine. Now let's make a shot that is usually not done. This is academically completely incorrect. I'm going to cut her off like this. This is called the half face or whatever. It's just a name that I invented. Anyways, this is a very creative shot. It's used in many films. One of my favorites, Mr. Nobody and this tells, an extremely interesting visual story. We are cutting in on her, but it's more of a creative cut. Normally when a person things we could be creative and give that person a lot more head space. She's thinking above her grabbing ideas out of the sky. But when it bursts in his creative or innovative, if we're talking about it's thinking outside of the box and that's exactly what we are doing right here. She's using this space around her right now because we have cut her in half, it means that the audience knows that certain as much more information on the right side, it's same as with a medium shots, if I which cut in right here we know that there are legs down below there. So that's exactly the same right here. Because we are giving so much space on the left side, it also feels like that same space is also on the right sides. Now it feels like we have this ultra wide shots, even though when we don't have an ultra white or an anamorphic camera, it just normal 16 by 9, but it does feel that way to the audience. We can cut off some other things right here of Justine and I don't mean literally, but through framing. For example, let's focus on something else. For example, her nose right here. She is smelling something in the distance. That could be a good smell or a bad smell doesn't matter. I want to focus on her nose. The lens I have is not that great to make the shot, want to be little more zoomed in, but I think we can manage it. There we go. This right here is again, not a proper framing. I'm putting her against the first vertical line. So it's not prominent, it's a subtle framing. This is academically not correct, we don't cut off limbs like this. We show what that limp is connected to. That is what the rules of film-making says. But even though we're breaking the rules right now, we are again creating a visual story. We're focusing on her nose. So that means we're telling an extra story with her nose. She might be smelling something in the distance, that's why we're giving her so much smelling space. We can talk now about. So much smelling space because she's trying to find this smell in the distance. Maybe she is the neighbor of someone who likes to bake cookies, and she's standing in her own living room right now with the window open and she's going to smell, where is that delicious cookie smell coming from. That's why we're giving her so much space right here. So we can continue doing this, we can make shots of her chin, for example, she might have stolen a cookie. So let's make a framing of her chin right now. If she would be biting now on that cookie, you might be something doing something like this. This is academically correct. Putting her lips on that rule of thirds. There we go. But if you want to tell again a visual story, that's maybe the cookies are a little bit to hard and she has to do with little effort to chew on those cookies. It might be framing her like this on the chin. You can see that chin going up and down very hard. She's chewing on that cookie which is way too hard. Again, we're telling that visual story, which makes this a lot more interesting. 6. High & Low Angle: That brings us to the final part of this workshop and there is going to be high and low angle. Let's start off with the low angle. I am going to place Justin right here. Normally, I'm going to put the camera down. There you go, and just look up to her and it doesn't have to be much. Maybe for this example, I'm going to lower the tripod as well, a tiny bit more. There we go. Right now, I am shooting from a low angle, I'm looking towards the scene from below. So right now we could say that she is a greater person, now she is the president of the United States, she is the boss and this right here is the employee. She is looking down on the audience making her greater in status. However, she can also be lower in status even though that the camera is standing lower than her. Well, that is because of the backgrounds. The background is going to play an important role here as well because the camera sits lower, we also have a better angle towards something bigger or behind her. Maybe she is someone in New York and she's standing behind these very big skyscrapers. Then right now, she is a small person, she is just a civilian just like anyone else and to city is kind of bigger than the civilians within New York and because we are framing her from below, we are making the statues or the buildings behind you much bigger than she is. So it doesn't always have to mean that when your camera sits low to the ground, that your subject is greater in status, she can also be lower in status because of that, it depends on the backgrounds and the same thing will happen when we are going to film her from above. Let's just put that tripod a little bit higher. Lets just also see how high that we can go. There we go and this is not higher than Justin. We might need a bigger tripod here. Let's grab another tripod. We don't have any other tripods anymore, I'm just going to go handheld. I will just go a quick handheld here. So all other tripods are in use, so that's why. Let me just go handheld for a moment right here. Certainly we are now looking down at her. The camera is larger than her, so obviously we would think that we were making her smaller. Well, that is not always the case, she could also be a greater person by moving the camera up and that is going to depend on how the subject is going to act, but maybe also what kind of foreground object that you have. Maybe she is this architect and she has made this amazing building. Well then she might be looking up. She's looking up towards the building that she has designed, again in New York and that she's looking up to that building. The cameras sits on top of that building looking down on her, but it's her creation, making her as big as that object and I've actually done that a while ago with an artist, it was a graffiti artist and he was making these artworks and one of them was actually filming him from above, having the artwork into foregrounds, having him down below on the floor, making his artwork. The artwork was now greater than him, but because that artwork was his, it was making him look bigger in status. So it really depends on which kind of objects you are using, how your actor is going to act in your framing, which status is going to be and you can play creative with that by actually moving the camera bigger, making her bigger, or by placing the camera lower and actually making her smaller in status. It is going to be the opposite, you don't do that, but it's going to be more creative, it's going to be a lot more dynamic because you are breaking the rules, but you know how you're breaking them making again a visual story and that was the final thing of our workshop about creative camera framing, specifically about subjects. I hope that you've learned something new. Thank you all so much for watching and like we always say, stay creative.