Filmmaking Techniques: Create Cinematic Compositions | Sean Dykink | Skillshare

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Filmmaking Techniques: Create Cinematic Compositions

teacher avatar Sean Dykink, Story is your guide

Watch this class and thousands more

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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.

      Class Introduction


    • 2.

      Class Project


    • 3.

      Visual Communication


    • 4.

      The Difference Between Framing and Composition


    • 5.

      Creating Effective Compositions


    • 6.

      Demystifying Compositional Rules


    • 7.

      Visual Balance


    • 8.

      Achieving Balance


    • 9.

      Depth of Frame


    • 10.

      Creating Immersive Imagery


    • 11.

      How to Work With Available Light


    • 12.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Step into the captivating world of Filmmaking Techniques: Create Cinematic Compositions, where the art of visual storytelling comes alive. In this class, aspiring filmmakers, videographers, and photography enthusiasts will get practical instruction on how to create awe-inspiring compositions that can captivate audiences and leave a lasting impact.

  • Harness the power of visual communication. Use various composition techniques to emotionally connect your audience to your story's purpose.
  • Gain deep insight into the classic compositional rules. We will demystify these rules and break them down in a way that can be used practically when composing imagery.
  • Learn how better control where your viewer looks within the frame.

Who is this class for?

  • This class is designed for filmmakers, videographers, and photographers who are looking to gain a deeper understanding of compositional techniques and ultimately improve their images

What do you need before taking this class?

  • You will need a camera, any camera will do

Through visual examples and hands-on exercises, you will develop a keen eye for composition, honing your ability to create cinematic visuals that leave a lasting impact on your viewers.

I look forward to seeing you in class!

Meet Your Teacher

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Sean Dykink

Story is your guide

Top Teacher

Hi everyone, I'm Sean, a filmmaker and video editor from Canada! I've been working in a number of studio and freelance roles professionally since 2005.

My main focus in teaching is storytelling. I believe that the stories in our lives give us purpose and are the reason to learn all of this technical filmmaking stuff in the first place. We learn technical skills and storytelling craft, to effectively bring creative expression to stories that otherwise remain thoughts in our minds.

Join me in learning more about creative storytelling, filmmaking, and editing techniques. Looking forward to seeing you in class!

I post some additional tips and content on my Instagram account, check it out!

See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Class Introduction: Creating Cinematic Compositions doesn't need to be complicated. You don't need complex grids. Guides, or some magic formula for Effective storytelling. In this class, I'm going to clear some things up for you. Making the process of creating compositions that much easier. Having goals within photography and Cinematography that are actually tangible and achievable. I'm Sean Dykink. I've worked in the field of Filmmaking since 2005. And I had hours of experience analyzing compositions and how they contribute to storytelling. This class is all about Framing and Composition and how to implement compositional techniques to effectively tell a story. Whether you're an aspiring photographer or cinematographer with some experience or maybe no experience. This class is for you. You will learn where to begin when it comes to Framing and composing shot strategies for effective storytelling in gain a deeper understanding of some of these compositional rules that you may have heard of before. By the end of this class, you'll be armed with a practical strategy when it comes to approaching, Framing and Composition for storytelling. So with that, let's dive into the class 2. Class Project: Thanks so much for taking this class. I'm very excited that I get to be part of your Filmmaking journey. Let's talk about the project for this class. Really, your project can be as complex or as simple as you'd like. Shoot a photo, shoot multiple photos, create a short three shot sequence. Just makes sure to demonstrate the learned material and include where possible, the thought process behind your project. One thing to keep in mind is that many of the lessons will prompt lesson exercises, and even those individual exercises can contribute to your class project. For example, this short time-lapse is from lesson Eights exercise and could be used as my class project. And again, this does not need to be at timelapse. It could just be a single image. Not every class exercise needs to be a big masterpiece. But if you are inspired by a class exercise and you want to create a class project out of that. And I would encourage you to do so. You're gonna get better at Filmmaking when you go out and do it. So the more you put into the lessons and overall class, the more you're going to benefit. Filmmaking exercises don't need to be some masterpiece. It can be as simple as working on Framing and Composition using your smartphone and just taking photos. This brings me to what you're going to need. If you have a camera that can record a video, that's great. Any camera will do your video camera, your DSLR, a phone. When I'm inspired to figure out some sort of idea, or I have a frame I want to test out and I don't have a camera and not even my phone to just use my fingers as frames and record the images in my mind, the best camera to shoot with is the one you have with you. Even if that means you've got to use your hands to create frames like the great Steven Spielberg. It's important to have FUN while learning. So don't take yourself too seriously and try to enjoy the process. If you're not enjoying it, take a break and come back to it with a fresh perspective or a specific goal in mind. I'm not going to prompt exercises every single lesson, but that doesn't mean you can't go out and test out these theories and techniques as we go. It's never a waste of time. These lessons are exercises. It's going to expedite your experience and propel you into becoming a better Filmmaking. So I would strongly encourage you to get is practical and hands-on as you possibly can. Because the more you put in with anything really, the more it's got to pay off. With that being said, let's jump into our first lesson. 3. Visual Communication: It can be difficult to decide what visual secrete for the story you're telling. And there's so many different factors involved in how an audience interprets what they see on the screen. And some of those visuals can be more effective than others. So in this lesson, we're going to explore some broad criteria for how to approach visual communication through cinematography. And yes, it's not that much of a surprise. Telling the story is what matters. And that's means what should be guiding our cinematography. And really any aspect within filmmaking. When approaching a shot, ask yourself, what am I trying to communicate through the shot? And you can communicate a number of things through cinematography. The shock could be directing your eye to a particular character or object within the frame, perhaps communicating the importance of this person or think. The shortcuts simply reveal the geographical location of a scene, showing us where part of the story takes place and help create context. A shock can also reveal character who they are, their point of view, and this extends into their relationship with other characters and their status and power. A shock can also help communicate major themes in Saving Private Ryan, a big theme that runs through the entirety of the film is the tragedy of war. This is exemplified through camera movement, film stock, the shutter speed, and a number of other cinematic elements. A shot can also communicate information that may draw out a number of emotions. The movie zodiac, that would be fear. This particular scene manipulates the feelings of the audience towards our protagonist and this secondary character, the list goes on. So to keep things simple, and in my opinion, the shot that tells a story best, that is the most effective and that can be kinda vague and a bit frustrating possibly. But in this class, we're going to dive more into the specifics of what that really means. And through some theory and film-making techniques, I'm hoping it's gonna be a lot easier to grasp this. So here's a super simple example that I filmed that I'm hoping will illustrate this point of thinking about what you want to communicate through a shot. We have this guy who's looking at his phone and we see that his bank balance is not really there. We've probably all been there. The stress of not having money. Okay, so yes, nothing too crazy. But this is part of the class. We want to film as many of these little shot sequences as possible. So we can continue to experiment with different storytelling ideas, different compositions, different types of shots. So really it all comes down to just this one shot. This is the reason why I wanted to film this because I kinda like this area of our house and kinda thought that the bar is almost resembled the prison. That led me to start thinking about themes around that feeling of being trapped. And I thought, well, what is one thing that a lot of people feel trapped by the lack of finances. I thought, I'm going to illustrate that feeling just through a short sequence. Now whether this idea really comes across to you, the viewer, it all starts with that intention, with that idea of what you want to communicate through the shot. The next step is to identify the point of interest. The point of interests is the visual element or elements in a shot that are meant to draw the attention of the viewer. It doesn't necessarily need to be one individual point with the frame. It can be multiple points. And in this shot's case, it's a number of things to communicate, an idea, to communicate this theme of feeling constrained and trapped. So yes, of course I'm trying to use the vertical bars of the handrails. And then also I'm trying to make use the colors, the cooler outdoor light contrasted with the light coming from another room. And placing myself outside of that warm glow in the cooler hues tells his own story because the cooler hues can indicate more stark imagery or in this context, symbolize some sort of isolation and including the depth of the background with the table and empty chairs and flowers on the table also gives this kind of interesting imagery where the audience can come up with their own ideas of what that means. But I do like the emptiness of the chairs and how that could add to this isolation, the framing, and the proximity of where I'm placed in relation to the edge of the frame. Fuels constraining in itself. There's not a whole lot of headroom here, and it can create that feeling of tension and unease for the viewer. And then finally, we have these diagonal lines which help guide the eye through the frame from element to element. So all of these elements I'm trying to use to help tell the story. Now of course, these are just the storytelling decisions I'm making and my intention of how I want this particular shot to hit the audience doesn't mean it's actually going to work, but at least the intention and the justification is there. Just as important as the point of interests of the frame is the points within the frame where you don't want your audience to look. So when I was first experimenting with the kind of framing I wanted for this shot, I had originally had this super wide shot and obviously I didn't use it because, well, there's a lot going on in this frame and a lot of unnecessary points of interest where the audience can lose their focus of what the story is about. But because I knew what I wanted to communicate within the shot and where I wanted the audience to look or the point of interest, I was able to crop in, cut out all the distractions and more narrowly guide the audience's attention to those intended points of interest. Knowing what your point of interest is is going to help you determine where to even begin when framing your shot. And the point of interest, of course, doesn't need to be this complicated. It could simply be this shot here. The point of interest is to show the bank balance. It's clearly to give context to what the character is looking at. And my goal was to be as clear as possible with this therefore background, It's all blurred. I mean, even if I wanted to cut into the shot even closer, I could justify that. So it's purely met to reveal more of the story to the audience. The point of interests helps engage your audience and understand where they should be looking within the frame, which helps them in turn, understand what's happening within the story, both on a logical level and a emotional, somatic level. And what do you do a really good job at that, you can evoke emotion within the audience. And I'm not saying that this sequence is evoking any type of emotion. But so long as you approach cinematography and your sequence of shots with these intentions and goals in mind, That's really all you can do. Your hope is that within the frame and even within the edit, that your ideas get across to the audience in the intended way that they interpret it in the way that you intended. That's all you can do. If you want to go out and start filming right away and experiment with your own point of interests and communicating theme and context and ideas through your shots. Do that for sure. And another very accessible exercise is to pay attention to the shows or movies that you're watching. Think about what each shot is trying to communicate. Where are the points of interests within the frame? And think about where your eye is naturally drawn and where you think that the filmmaker wants you to look within the frame and do those things match up. And this is shot telling the story in an effective way. So to recap, there are so many different things who can communicate through cinematography. You want to communicate what's happening plot wise in your story. So it's easy for the audience to understand what's going on within the frame. Think about contexts. Think about your characters. Think about themes, the overall point of the shot you're trying to achieve. And once you know what you're trying to communicate from shot to shot, consider how the point of interests that can contribute to communicating that idea. So in the next lesson, we're going to define some terms and discuss the difference between framing and composition. 4. The Difference Between Framing and Composition: In this lesson, we're going to define some terms. So we're on the same page. Framing and Composition go hand in hand, but are also somewhat different. I consider the frame, the bounds in which we're able to see so we can move the frame around. We can move those four walls of the frame around. But the frame itself doesn't change unless of course we're changing the aspect ratio, but that's an entirely different conversation. So that's the frame. Composition, on the other hand, includes all the visual elements within the frame and the relationship to each other. So how far apart they are from each other. And that includes the of the frame itself, how far apart the objects are from the bound of the frame. And we can adjust the frame and move it around to change that relationship. But we can also just simply move the visual elements within the frame. To our liking. The frame or the balance of the image and the composition is the visual elements within the frame. So now that you understand the Difference Between Framing and Composition, it's time to learn where to start when it comes to Framing and imposing an actual shot. 5. Creating Effective Compositions: Effective Cinematography begins with Framing and Composition. When trying to learn more about Cinematography and photography, you probably noticed that there's a lot of different rules and grids that people tell you you should use. But they don't really go into good reasons as to why. It's on the next few lessons, I'm gonna do my best to demystify some of these rules so that you can more practically apply these ideas and theories to your own Compositions. The first most common of these rules is known as the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is typically defined as a tool to create visually appealing or pleasing Compositions. Now, I'm not completely sold on this, and I think I'd like to try to redefine this rule. And in order for us to do this, we need to go to where the rule began. The rule of thirds was addressed by John Thomas Smith in 17 97 in his book titled remarks on rural scenery. And he refers to a work by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Reynolds talks about, but not entirely clearly, the balance of dark and light and a painting, John Thomas Smith then expands on this idea and officially names it the rule of thirds. This quote directly from his book. Two distinct equal lights should never appear in the same picture. One should be principal and the rest subordinate. Both in dimension and degree. Unequal parts and gradations lead the attention easily from part two part while parts of equal appearance, well that awkwardly suspended as if unable to determine which of those parts is to be considered as the subordinate and to give the utmost force and solidity to your work. Some part of the picture should be as light and some as dark as possible. These two extremes are then to be harmonized and reconciled to each other. And although the wording can be a bit challenging, my main takeaway is that the rule of thirds is meant to guide the eye easily from one part of the frame to the other without the viewer feeling conflicted as to what to look at. So the rule of thirds breaks up an image into two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines. So we're breaking up the image into thirds. The points of most importance in your image are meant to be placed on the intersecting points of each line, and these are known as PowerPoints. And remember what John Thomas Smith's said, unequal parts lead the attention easily from part two part. So if I film this landscape shot and organize the sky and the land equally. So 50% of the images sky, 50% of the images land, then each portion is equal and competing for attention. If I simply reorganize the frame in unequal parts, either filling the landscape within the bottom two-thirds, or even filling the sky within the upper two-thirds. I've now created some visual hierarchy. And this organization can also make use of the vertical thirds. So rather than simply composing visual elements directly into the center of the frame, we can now make use of the rule of thirds to create dynamic Compositions. Our eyes now have more of a reason to dance around an image rather than be guided directly to the center. Based on the way I look at this image, I can see how some of this is true, but some of it's more nuanced. Every image has its own unique characteristics that may or may not benefit looking at it strictly through the lens of the rule of thirds. Now I'm not suggesting that you just follow this rule blindly when you start out in photography or Cinematography. I think it's important to understand what the rule of thirds is. But more importantly, I think you need to understand the why behind it. And I would redefine the rule of thirds as organizing the frame, creating some hierarchy. And why would that be important? Well, my thought behind it is if I can structure the frame and the visual elements or my points of interest, I have a better chance of success in getting the audience to understand what they're looking at, where they're supposed to look, and any meaning behind the composition itself. So let's take a look at the bridge example again and try to apply this reasoning. Understand the deeper why behind the rule of thirds or better yet, organizing our frame. The point of interest is this bridge. And yes, the city's skyline is also a secondary interesting point to this image. But if we know what the point of interests is, then we can use the rule of thirds to help, assist in bringing more focus and attention to our points of interests. So organizing this bridge shot with a two-thirds of the sky versus the two-thirds of the landscape. In my opinion, I think the sky looks a bit better aside from the leading lines, it doesn't really contribute anything to the shot. It's more distracting in my opinion because I'm trying to figure out what how are these fences or hay bales and what do they have to do with the shot itself? So it kinda takes a bit more away from the photo, then actually provide any useful information to it. Of course, in some way you can argue for this shot if you were to create a sequence of shots with say, people sliding down the hill on toboggan or something like that, it would make a lot more sense. But in the context of this shot, I feel that having more of the sky and the shot works better because there's less detail in the sky. Thus a leading your eye to the landscape, the bridge, and the skyline itself. And then centering the image also doesn't quite work because of all the information around our point of interest. This external information almost takes away from what we're trying to focus on. And I think the centered image can be improved by simply zooming in or cropping out all of the things within our composition that we don't want the viewer to focus on. If you disagree with me, that's totally fine. I'm just encouraging you to at least be able to justify why you're using the rule of thirds. Understand the deeper why of how you compose an image. So to recap, the rule of thirds is a way of dividing up an image into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. And to quote John Thomas Smith, unequal parts and gradations lead the attention easily from part two part, in my own words, this to me means creating some visual organization and hierarchy more easily guiding the eye, throat and the image. Now of course, I think it's okay to use the rule of thirds. You can use the rule of thirds guide on your camera to compose a shot. But I also am going to urge you to turn that rule of thirds guide off. Try to compose a shot without using it. Try to think about the deeper reason why are using it. And to me that means creating organization within your compositions. In the next lesson, we're going to dive deeper into demystifying Compositional Rules 6. Demystifying Compositional Rules: In this lesson, we're going to dive deeper into Compositional Rules. And I'm going to do my best to demystify them for you so that you have more creative control over your Compositions. To clarify, when I use the word demystify, it's not the same as debunk. Demystify means to make clear, to make something easier to understand. So my hope is that when we explore these compositional rules and guidelines, I'm going to help you understand the deeper why behind why we choose it. So you're not just blindly following this rule because some article or someone on the internet hold you that it was essential to becoming a good photographer or cinematographer. I want to talk a bit more on PowerPoints. So the PowerPoints are where the lines intersect and it's considered a place of visual poll. And that you should place important visual elements on these intersecting lines. And from what I understand, there's not really any good explanation to these PowerPoints. I don't really exactly know where they came from. Why would you follow a guide if there's no good reason to? Well, there might be good reason. And a common thought here. I'm not the only one thinking this is that these intersecting lines could be considered a simplified version of what's known as the golden ratio. Bear with me here. The golden ratio, also known as the golden mean or the golden section, is a mathematical concept that describes a ratio of approximately one to 1.618. This ratio is often used in Art and Design as well as in photography. And it's used to create compositions that are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The golden ratio is thought to be aesthetically pleasing because it is found in many naturally occurring patterns and shapes in nature. And the most famous example is the spiral shape of the seashell. The golden ratio can be used to compose a picture by dividing the frame into a grid with horizontal and vertical lines that are spaced according to the golden ratio. This grid is called the Phi grid, and it's named after the Greek letter Phi, which is used to represent the golden ratio in mathematical equations by using a Phi grid, photographer can use the golden ratio to create a composition that is balanced and pleasing to the eye. So a lot of the arguments that support the golden ratio are that it's pleasing to the eye because it's found in nature. So I don't know if that's good enough argument, but it is another tool that we can use to experiment when creating compositions. There are many other rules that come along with composition in addition to the rule of thirds and the golden ratio or Phi grid, things become even more complex and there are even more rules than this. An interesting experiment is to layer all of these different grids on top of each other. And you'll see that any one of these intersecting points may hit important aspects of the Composition and certain imagery made some way follow one of these rules, whether intended or not. Of course, I'm taking these rules out of contexts somewhat. It's more of a FUN experiment to test out. I'm not saying you shouldn't use these rules or apply these rules to your own compositions. What I'm urging you to do is not to follow these rules blindly. If you're going to use a compositional rule, try to figure out the deeper why behind it and don't lean on because it's pleasing to the eye or because it's found in nature, try to discover the deeper practical use behind it. So for example, in our previous lesson, we talked about the rule of thirds and how it creates organization in hierarchy, making it easier for the viewer to look between the different points of interests that helped them decipher the story on the screen and how they should feel about the image itself. An example from Mad Max Fury Road, look at the shot. The horizon line is very low within the frame, and this shot doesn't particularly follow any Compositional Rules. The story that's being told here is that our characters are super small within the frame. Illustrating how large this storm is. The contrast between the size of these visual elements creates more fear, anxiety, and tension for the audience experiencing the scene. But then again, you can argue for any one of these Compositional Rules. The point is to craft the shot that best tells the story. If that includes using some rules to help assist in crafting those shots, and it works for the story. Then great. You've successfully used the tool rather than forcing it into your Compositions. So to recap, we have a handful of compositional grids that we can use as a guide. But remember, we use the guide to help tell the story rather than fit the story to the guide. Now of course, I'm going to encourage that you understand why you're using a specific compositional rule and how that affects the story you're telling. But we can also start with the rule. And then later on, figure out how that affects the story. Tweak from there and reshoot, tweak from their experiment. Try things out. I've made these overlays available for download so you can pop them into your own preferred video or photo editor to do some experimentation. Continued to iterate. Continue to question why you're making the compositional choices you're making. It's a slow progression. It will take time, but have FUN because this is supposed to be PFK-1. It's FUN to experiment with these different rules and see how they might affect the story that you're telling. Let's improve our compositions even more by exploring the concept of Balance 7. Visual Balance: A key concept that cinematographers consider within every composition is balanced and Balance can create harmonious images, thus creating more Effective Compositions. And it can contribute to story. Ballots refers to the arrangement of visual elements within a composition that creates a sense of equilibrium and harmony. A composition is considered Balance when these various visual elements have equal visual poll. We can use these duplo blocks to illustrate this in a very simple way. This setup is visually balanced. When we take away some of these elements on the left-hand side, our gaze is pulled a more toward the right-hand side. Trading unbalanced composition. A balanced image can create order and organization to your Frame, making it easier to view the points of interest within your composition. And creating a sense of ease when viewing the image. On the other hand, an unbalanced image can be disordered and disorganized, creating tension and uneasiness for the viewer. But this can mean a lot more depending on the context. One way to think about Balance is to imagine a fulcrum with weights on either side, the left and right sides of an image. And there visual elements act as the weights. Each element has its own visual pole, and the amount of pole determines how heavy that visual element is within the frame. There are a number of factors that contribute to visual Balance. And to simplify this explanation, I'm gonna be using very basic onscreen graphics. The size of the object. Larger objects have more visual weight than smaller objects. The position of an object. Objects that are closer to the edge of the frame can appear heavier than elements that may be slightly off-center. Color. Vibrant colors have more weight than dull colors. Warmer colors have a bit more weight than cooler colors. And if we're thinking more black and white, then the darker tones have more visual weight than lighter ones. But also it's important to keep in mind the contrast that's created by juxtaposing bright and dark portions of an image because those also have their own visual weight. Then we have texture and pattern, and texture and pattern can maybe technically fall into our other categories. But because these attributes can be so easily identifiable, it's worth mentioning. Large areas featuring smoother texture, can Balance, say a smaller, more detailed texture are eye is attracted to more intricate lines and details because we, as humans are pattern seekers, naturally looking for and completing patterns within nature and life. And this has been a means of survival. So the pull on these smaller textured areas can greatly attract the eye. Leading lines. Simply put our lines that appear within images and again, our eyes naturally will follow these lines within an image. And these lines can guide the eye in different directions and contribute to visual Balance. A subtype of leading lines are suggested leading lines where they are not perceptible but implied. So in this example, I'm going to speak to another character offscreen, right over there. Hey buddy. Hey, hey. So you can see in this example, my gaze, or where I'm looking towards Sean off screen is creating a suggested leading line. And the negative space, this is adjusted leading line. My body language, where my body's position in facing is helping balance out this otherwise asymmetrical image. That's right. And when cutting between the two of these shots, it gives a comfortable amount of space between the two characters. Yep. And don't forget that this is also called Conversation Space or lead room. If we were to be closer to the edge of the frame, it would create a lot more tension, totally, which we're going to explore a bit more in the next lesson. Yep, neither of these of frames are necessarily wrong. They just tell different stories. He's right. And a lot of the things that catch our eyes, such as things that are in-focus, people, animals, faces. These visual elements have a lot more poll. Because Balance can be such a tricky thing to maneuver. I want you to simply keep in mind these visual elements as you go about your day. Again, you don't need to have your camera on you to do this. You can simply Frame a location or seeing with your eyes and Framing with your hands, or simply just identify these different visual attributes within your surroundings. And if you do every camera with you, frame up the shot and consider the weight and attention each element demands. So to recap, thinkable Balance and a left to right fashion when the visual elements on the left side of the frame and the right side of the frame are evenly weighted. You've achieved Balance. And again, don't worry, it's not like an all or nothing, either your balanced or not. It's not going to be perfect, but that's okay. Use your best judgment. Practice makes progress. In this Talking Eds setup, I would say we're not perfect. It's probably leaning a bit further over to this side. And that's okay. There are a lot of visual attributes that contribute to ballots. Size, position, color, tone, contrast, texture, pattern, leading lines, and really anything that is eye-catching. Balance is an important concept to keep in mind when you're composing shots. But remember some of this is subjective if you're not gonna get a perfectly balanced shot all the time. So don't try to be perfect about it. Experiment, have FUN that remember to think about how your Compositions tell the story. And I would even suggest that you create an intentionally unbalanced image to see what story that tells. In the next lesson, we're going to discuss more on Balance and some strategies on how to achieve it. 8. Achieving Balance: To help you better understand Balance within your own visuals, I'm gonna go over the different types of balanced and also provides more examples within this lesson. There are two types of Balance, symmetrical and asymmetrical. Symmetrical balance is where the compositional elements are arranged equally on either side of the central axis while achieving an overall visual harmony. This type of Balance is mostly seen in Centered shots of characters or environments or objects with mirror image, this is also a much easier balance to achieve within your Imagery. A balanced image can create a sense of peace and tranquility, which can be used to convey a sense of calm or serenity, or that feeling of everything is in its right place. And this is even more emphasized when using symmetrical balance. Asymmetrical balance occurs when the elements are not evenly distributed on each side of the center of the frame while still achieving an overall visual harmony. And in this type of balance, the elements may be arranged in a way that creates a sense of visual tension, but still maintains a sense of balance overall. This type of Balance is often seen where characters are having a conversation with one another. Like in this scene, we have this character on the left side of the frame, talking to a character off-screen on the right side of the frame, the negative space and the suggested leading line balances each of these compositions. And it also can be achieved by using over the shoulder shots with the dirty end of the frame with their shoulder, balancing the image. Asymmetrical balance is also very common within interviews. And again, we have the talking space or suggested leading line that is balancing this asymmetrical composition. And there's a bit more to lead room and talking space than just creating balance and comfortable amount of room Between two characters. It also has to do with creating spatial continuity. The space can help the viewer better understand where each element is roughly within the scene. These suggested leading lines don't necessarily need to be strictly contain two people, but it could also be buildings. Just the way of building is facing can justify at asymmetrical shot. Asymmetrical balance is also commonly achieved by using background elements or other elements placed off-center. And interesting experiment is to take some of these wide shots were films. And we can erase some of the visual elements on one side of the screen and see how that feels. In this case, now, it feels off balance without this element up here to the right. It is much more challenging to achieve asymmetrical balance because you're relying on color, bright, and dark values along with texture and subject matter to weigh each side of the frame, which in some ways can be subjective. So the goal of asymmetrical or symmetrical balance is to create equal visual poll throughout the frame to create a harmonious image. And why do you want harmony? While harmony creates order and organization within the frame without creating the tension that an unbalanced image does, we're able to look at the various points of interests within a composition with ease. But that doesn't mean you can't treat unbalanced Imagery. And especially in the show Mr. robot, they use unbalanced images all the time. This is a deliberate choice which also mimics our main character, Eliot's in our world, he's on the edge of society, a bit of an outcast. So this type of Cinematography makes sense for a show like this, placing him on the outer edges of the frame and increasing the tension and uneasiness for the viewer. Typically, the closer visual elements are to the edge of the frame, the more tension you're going to feel when viewing that element. And of course, the suggested leading lines can increase that tension if they're also moving toward the edge of the frame. Here's a quick framework to help you within this lesson's exercise. When I approach a location, I will look for visual elements that contribute to either symmetrical or asymmetrical balance. This helps me determine how I might approach a location and provide possible shot ideas. And the majority of the time you're gonna get a mix of both asymmetrical and symmetrical balance depending on your angle choices, architecture, a variety of different characteristics of your location and the Storytelling. With symmetrical balance is easy to center the subject or the overall scene and mostly get a harmonious image. Approaching asymmetrical balance is tricky, but with our previous lessons, visual weight examples, it makes it a bit easier to discern where the visual weight within the frame might have the greatest hole and will help inform you on how to re-frame to create balance or physically rearranged the compositional elements. So try not to think about Balance as either balanced or unbalanced. It's kind of on a sliding scale in some cases, because all of the visual elements on the screen are going to attract different people's eyes in different ways. So it's a bit subjective. Also have this innate sense. When we see something balanced or not, you're probably going to be automatically composing a shot to where it feels balanced to you. But this comes with a lot of practice. You're gonna have to hone your skills. You're gonna have to experiment with different types of Balance. And then later on, review the footage or photographs and decide, did I achieve the balance that I want it? And is that Balance or non Balance contributing to the story I'm telling? So to recap, Balance is a crucial concept when creating imagery, and it can help you create harmony within your images. There's two types of Balance, symmetrical balance and asymmetrical balance. Symmetrical balance relies more on even centered images or mirrored images, whereas asymmetrical balance can be a bit more dynamic and create a bit more visual tension, but still maintains a sense of balance overall. Consider your location and other elements within the frame that contribute to symmetrical or asymmetrical balance from their, consider how you can compose your shots to create balance, or even intentionally put things off of balance. In the next lesson, I'm going to help you understand how to create depth within your images. 9. Depth of Frame: On-screen visuals are often projected onto a 2D plane, such as this one right here. This can leave us with some flat and uninspired images. But there are some things we can do to create more depth within our images. So in this lesson, we're going to discuss how to create depth in your visuals to provide a more immersive experience for your audience. Depth of frame refers to taking a two-dimensional image and making it appear as if it's three-dimensional. So taking a shot that looks very flat, such as this one, with some work, we can make it look like it has more depth to it. Like we can jump into the screen or reach our hand into the screen and be part of the environment. And creating depth really creates that realistic, immersive experience for an audience. And this can be very important for your story because it can put your audience into that state of film. Watching hypnosis, where you suspend your disbelief. They're immersed into the visuals on the screen. And in turn, that can help create a greater chance of success for your story and its purpose. To create depth in a shot, it's important to begin with creating layers within the frame. This means creating a distinct foreground, midground, and background, which creates a dynamic and immersive experience for the audience. This also makes it easier for the audience to understand what visual element they should be focusing on. And in the next lesson, we're going to explore some strategies to create that depth within your cinematography. 10. Creating Immersive Imagery: Now that you understand up the frame and its importance, it's time to learn some strategies for creating immersive imagery. Start with depth of field. Depth of field refers to exactly what is in focus within a shot, opening up the aperture and trading a shallower depth of field helps separate me from the background, creating more distinct layers. Filming the scene with a deep depth of field that brings our attention to every layer at once. In this shot's case, you can see that all our foreground, midground, and background elements are in focus. They're all squashed together. So when adjusting the depth of field that we can zero in on the focus of this shot, helping guide the viewer's eye to what is most important within the frame. Also a pro tip here. If you want even more shallow depth of field, hold your camera bag and zoom in. When you zoom in, it compresses the elements in the frame. Treating a smaller depth of field. Perspective literally means the way you look at something. This can refer to a camera's angle to a particular scene. For example, it's common when starting out within filmmaking or photography to compose shots. Head on. This clearly shows the subject in frame, but lacks depth. That head-on shot results in horizontal and vertical lines which can communicate stability. And this might just be fine for this type of shot. These horizontal and vertical lines can also act as pathways for the eye, which might guide our eye left or right or up and down throughout the frame, but it does lack the desired depth. So adjusting your perspective by changing the angle of the shot can result in creating diagonal lines, which can be used to direct the viewer's eye similarly to the horizontal and vertical lines created in our previous example. However, now we are giving the illusion that the I is traveling on the z axis with the diagonal lines created. And this line leads our eye deeper into the two-dimensional space, creating the illusion of depth. It's basically paying attention to the leading lines within your image and adjusting your angles so that those leading lines are moving in diagonals. When filming points of interests such as characters on screen or in this example me, it's best to keep them further away from the wall to create distinct layers. I'm not going to be sitting directly against the wall because that's going to make it look like I'm part of the wall rather than on a separate layer. If I pull myself further away from the wall, I'm giving more space and distance. It's between myself and the wall, which gives a better chance of creating distinct looking layers. You can also consider dirty up your frame, which includes foreground that is typically out of focus and filling Passat foreground toward your point of interest. But one thing to keep in mind is that it needs to suit the story. In this case, it doesn't really look right. It looks like maybe someone spying on me. Contrast can be created by composing bright elements alongside dark. And this is why silhouette shots can be so effective. These silhouette shots appear to have more depth because of the differences in bright and dark, we can clearly see that these two things are different. And the greater the difference, the clearer the layers stand out from each other, the higher points of contrast within an image can be places of interest giving us greater control over the audience's attention. Another less obvious way to create depth is to use color. The reason this is less obvious is because this usually requires the use of lights are discovering locations containing color contrast, which is obviously a bit more rare. Take a look at this color wheel. You can see for yourself the various combinations of color that contrast each other. Again, the greater the contrast, the easier it is to differentiate the layers giving the 2D image the appearance of depth. So you can see here this talking head setup. I've tried to create color contrast with the warm tones and cool tones to create some depth in this small space. In most circumstances, focusing on creating depth within the frame will help immerse the audience deeper into his story, effectively placing greater importance on the story being told. But it's not necessarily all about hitting every single one of these guides. Story comes first and flatter looking composition works best for your story, and that's fine. Just remember to find ways to utilize these depth creating strategies to maintain an immersive audience experience. Sometimes there are various degrees of depth within each composition we create when we can't access every single technique to create maximum depth of frame. So to recap, trading depth within your compositions can turn the two-dimensional screen into an immersive, three-dimensional experience. There are a number of ways to create depth, focusing on creating multiple layers by including foreground, mid ground and background elements. We can create more distinct separation between these layers by adjusting our depth of field. Making use of contrast both within luminance and color. Making use of dynamic camera angles to take those horizontal or vertical lines into diagonal lines, guiding the viewer's eye deeper within the image. And the most practical, which is to adjust the compositional elements within your frame, separating them from each other, creating physical space between them. And always consider the story that you're telling when creating depth. In the next lesson, I'm gonna give you one big tip that will help you better understand how to approach the lighting you have available 11. How to Work With Available Light: There's many situations where you don't have time to set up lights. It's not appropriate to set up lights or you simply don't have access to lighting equipment. But that's okay because in this lesson, I'm going to teach you one big thing that's going to help you make the best use of delight you have available. So what's the trick? It's upstage lighting. Upstage lighting originates from theatre. In theatre, upstage lighting refers to any letting that set, upstage. And upstage lighting can increase the contrast in your Compositions, ultimately creating more definition and depth. To understand upstage letting in the context of Filmmaking, we need to first look at the line of action. The line of action is that invisible line that connects two subjects. So in this example you can see we have two characters on a couch speaking with one another. And that line of action is that imaginary line that connects the action that's happening between them, which is them talking to one another. The line of action isn't limited to two characters that can be Between really anything. So when you understand where the line of action is, you can determine the best placement for your camera in relation to your main light source. So in this example here, where do you think the best placement of the camera would it be? Well, first, we can identify where the main source of light is right here. The more technical name for this main source of light is called the key light. And then determine where the line of action is. I'm engaging with this book. That would mean that the line of action is between me and the book. So really any camera angle on the opposite side of the key light and the line of action is making use of upstage lighting. So we can fill multiple camera angles on the opposite side of the key light and the line of action utilize upstage lighting. And the reason why upstage lighting is so effective is because it increases the contrast within the image, creating a shape and definition and separates the subject from its background, essentially creating depth, turning your 2D image into 3D image. So you can see that the falloff of light goes from bright to dark. So we're essentially filming into the shadow side of my face. Another way to understand upstage lighting is to consider the placement of your camera in relation to your key light. The camera to subject access needs to be perpendicular to the key light to subject access in order to increase shadow in shape. So you can see here we're once again filming into the shadow side of my face, trading deeper contrast, shaped, definition, and depth. Now, if I place my camera in the same direction as the key light at the same angle. They're on the same axis. Pointing the camera and the lighting in the same direction gives us a flatter even looking Light. This doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong, it's just different. And it helps you understand what techniques you need to employ in order to create more definition in shape or to pull back and create an even more flat looking Light. Typically though, upstage letting does look better and it looks more as people say, cinematic. I have to note that in this example, our background is also helping create that contrast. So we do still get a bit of depth here. Really, any angle on the opposite side of the main light source will help you create more depth to your Compositions. So in other words, if the cowardice subject axis aligns with the key light to subject axis, we get this flat even Light. And as we start to move the key light to subject axis perpendicular to the camera to subject axis, then we get more definition, more depth, more contrast. So with this knowledge, you can control the amount of contrast, definition and depth within your shots, and use the Available Light in the way that suits your project best. You may not want dramatic lighting for corporate training video, but for a dramatic short film, this may make sense. So great exercise here is to simply pay attention to the movies and television you're watching. Consider where the main source of light is coming from in relation to the actors and camera in the scene. And chances are that the majority, if not all of the shots, will feature the key lights axis perpendicular to the cameras axis. And notice with more dramatic content, how the lighting can move even further upstage. Also highly recommend grabbing a friend and going out and testing out these methods for yourself or filming herself like I did. And testing out these methods. Take a look at your shots and take note of the position of your key light relative to camera. What do you find that you prefer for the concept that you're working on? So to recap, one of the best and easiest ways to level up your lighting is to film with your key light upstage. And in the context of Filmmaking, this means you're filming on the opposite side of the key light, or main source of light and the line of action. Remember the line of action is that invisible line that connects the action taking place within the scene. Filming on the side of the line of action where the key light is positioned will result in flatter and even looking Light. A more simplified way in controlling the amount of contrast, definition and depth within your imagery is to consider the camera to subject axis in relation to the key lights subject axis, keeping these axes perpendicular will help create shape. When placing both these axes in the same direction or parallel to each other, we get a flatter, more even looking image 12. Final Thoughts: Congratulations on completing the class, and I hope you found this class helpful to put all of the lessons together. Here's a final recap. When telling a story through your visuals is important to ask yourself, what does this shot communicate? And of course, what is your intention behind the shot itself? Are you trying to provide context, reveal interesting character traits, communicate larger themes. Tried to be as specific as possible. Once you know what you're going for, It's time to identify the points of interests within your composition. Where do you hope the viewer will look? Think about organizing the compositional elements within your frame. We did talk about the reasoning behind the rule of thirds and the Phi grid or the golden section. And these grids can be helpful in creating organization and hierarchy to your Compositions. But more importantly, consider how Balance can contribute to harmonizing your image or adding levels of tension. And don't forget about creating depth within your imagery. Turning the 2D into 3D. If your audience feels like they're in the scene, like they're there, this can help suspend their disbelief. And you can also use the light you have available to help increase that depth, increasing definition and contrast, creating a cinematic look. And remember practice makes progress. Have FUN, experiment and review your footage or images later on, analyzing how the Compositions you've created might tell a story. I'm looking forward to senior class projects. And remember, this does not need to be super fancy or complex. You can simply submit a photo that you shot on your phone. Of course, if you want to create a more complex project with a sequence of shots or a short film or whatever. I encourage you to do this as well. And I'll provide the best constructive feedback I can. If you haven't already done so, please follow my profile for new classes, updates, and occasional giveaways. And please leave a review or feedback as welcome as it helps me improve my craft and serve you better. Thanks again for taking the class. And remember, story is your guide