Framing and Composition for Videography | Dennis Schrader | Skillshare

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Framing and Composition for Videography

teacher avatar Dennis Schrader, Freelance Videographer and Creator

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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.

      Framing for Videography!


    • 2.

      The Rule of thirds


    • 3.

      Head Room


    • 4.

      Lead Room


    • 5.

      Being Centered (Symmetry)


    • 6.



    • 7.



    • 8.

      Live-Framing a Scene Pt. 1 (Depth)


    • 9.

      Live-Framing a Scene Pt. 2 (Practical Lights in the Background)


    • 10.

      You have a homework!


    • 11.

      Thanks for watching!


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About This Class


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The Email Script that got me 3 Real Estate Video Clients in 3 Days!: 

My Personal Folder Structure for Video Projects (Ready to Use!): 

Understand the Basics of Filmmaking PDF (Free Download): 

The Camera Gear I use and recommend:

Learn how to create a visually pleasing image with a few easy-to-follow rules!

Framing often makes the difference between a "technically" correct shot and a visually pleasing shot. In this class I share with you what I have learned over the years of working as a cinematographer so you can start of with amazing looking videos.

Here is what you will learn in the class:

  • The most important RULE to know
  • How to evoke emotions with HEAD ROOM
  • How to lead the eye of the viewer with LEAD ROOM
  • Creative examples of Framing for Youtube Videos, Online Course, Client work and more
  • Live-Framing Session where I adjust an image on live

This class is called "Essentials" for a reason. I really believe that knowing about framing will change your video production quality probably more than buying that new shiny camera.

I hope to see you in the class and I am excited to hear from you!

Love ya!


Meet Your Teacher

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Dennis Schrader

Freelance Videographer and Creator


Hey guys! My name is Dennis - I am a one-man video production company based out of Hamburg, Germany. I love sharing my experiences with others so they can do the same!

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Level: Beginner

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1. Framing for Videography!: what's on, my friends. Welcome to another little course. Today we're going to learn all about framing. We will learn why this looks awkward. And this, for example, doesn't you will understand the power of lead room, and you will understand why I look so good if you have the correct headroom or not. There's so much we can do wrong if we don't figure out how to do the correct framing. But with a few little tricks, everything will become so much easier. You know, framing is actually one of those things that it's fairly easy to learn. But if you don't follow the rules, your image can look pretty weird pretty fast. And I get it because for me also took a lot of time to figure out what looks good on camera and what maybe doesn't. We will go through a lot of examples of wrong framing, and I will give you bunch of good examples for framing that you could use for everything from YouTube videos, online courses, freelance videography work and something that you would actually be able to use. Even if you just record a simple family video. Good framing will make a big difference. So without further ado, let's get started 2. The Rule of thirds: some first thing I want to talk about. It's probably one of the easiest ways to make a visually pleasing image, and this is the rule off thirds you probably have heard about before. And you probably also have seen it before because lots of cameras, whether it's your phone or actual cameras, you will see this grid on the display. Maybe you've seen it before That separates the hold this play the whole image into nine separate rectangles. And the rule of thirds tells us that if we place a subject in very specific parts of the image, it will result in the pleasing image if we focus on the ice of this subject and put it on the correct positions in the frame. So first of all, imagine. You split the screen horizontally in three equal parts, so you will notice that my so exactly on the line to the upper third of the image. And that's what creates a visually pleasing image. In this case, let's see what happens if we break that rule. Okay, this is obviously quite an extreme example, but you can see already that that naturally, is kind of not so pleasing image it doesn't look as good as the one before, so this is also obviously quite an extreme example. But we can see that if our eyes are too high, are out of the frame. And I can even go like this and it's still feels like it's not natural like something is wrong. Something is off. And framing is a lot about those things where we feel like something is off or we don't always know why. That's why something like the rule of thirds is so helpful. We already know that our eyes are the eyes of the subject optimally sit on the upper third off the image. But the rule of thirds also helps us with something else because we can divide the screen horizontally. But we can also divided vertically. So let's play with this right now. I'm centered in the frame. Okay, that looks good. But what happens if we go to this side of the frame and stand still on the third with the eye level in height? But move our body to the site to stand on the exact cross section between those thirds so something like this, right? And this is actually very common way to film, especially if you want to use things like overlays and use text in your video. Because look at this, for example. Right now, if I look at the screen right here would be amazing space to put some kind of text to put some kind of images that you want to put in your video. That's a great way to do it. While the image is still visually pleasing, another very typical situation where you see this kind of framing its interviews because often the interview is working like this, that there's a lot of free space into the direction that my face is turned towards because often and injuries. I'm not looking directly to the camera, but I'm looking to a either actual or imagined partner for conversation. And right now I'm actually talking to the wall. But let's imagine that this is an interview and you can see that's kind of looking natural , because I'm speaking towards free space and we will talk about that later. But just for a second look how awkward it would look if I would actually talking to the different direction. So have you ever thought why interviews are not film like this, because at first glance there is no obvious reasons why this would be wrong, because we're still on the rule of thirds. But you will learn about this just in a second. So for now, let's just remember the rule of thirds is probably the easiest way to visually pleasing image. By following this simple guideline, put your eyes on the border to the upper third of the frame, and if your subject is not centered in the frame trying to keep it, at least on the height, that's correct. And then move it if you want to, to the to the left, third or to the right, third on the image and you will have most likely a very pleasing image. 3. Head Room: So the next thing we're going to talk about is the head room, and headroom is basically the space in the frame that you have above your head. So in this case, the head room is this year. This little this little headroom is important because with headroom we can evoke certain emotions in the video. We can make it feel a certain way we can make our subject feel big. We could make a look small, and that's important because you don't want to accidentally make your video look awkward or make the subject look smaller or bigger than this. So let's see how headroom is done correctly. So the first thing to remember actually, is if we use the rule of thirds already and have our eyes or eye level on the upper third of the image, we're kind of safe for messing up headroom. Because if you look at this image right now, mice are still kind of on the upper third of the image and follow the rule of thirds. So but what happens if I come really, really close? Looking at this image, you might think that I have a good amount of headroom right because, you know I'm not touching the upper screen, which is always something you want to avoid, and it's kind off. You know, it looks good in terms of headroom, but if you look at my eye level, I'm or like in the middle than in the upper third. So I'm not following the rule of thirds, and what that does is it chops off my chin. So, for example, if you have a subject that goes really close to the camera, you will have to make a decision whether you want to chop them off at the forehead or you want to chop them off at the chin. And that's why the rule of thirds so helpful for this because you always want to chop off the forehead first instead of the chin. Don't ask me why, but it's just gonna look better. Let's take a look at this. So this is what the image would look like if I follow the rule of thirds and this is what the image would look like if I kind of follow more like the rule off headroom because right here I don't really have any headroom, because my head is already chopped up. So technically, from headroom perspective, it might not be perfect. But in any other situation where you don't have a complete close up to a person, you want to have a certain headroom and you do not want the head off the subject to touch the upper end of the screen. But something that you also don't want to do is give too much headroom, because that's gonna make your subject appear small and weak. And that's not what we want to do. So this is a rather extreme example of too much head room. This is still too much head room, and this is how it should look like. Do you see the difference? That's headroom. 4. Lead Room: all right, so now I want to talk about lead room. We quickly had the example before, but lead room is important because if you have a subject in the frame that is doing some kind of action, whether that's talking or running or some kind of other movement, and the action is directed into a certain direction, you want to have lied room in this direction, Let me explain. So we had the example of an interview already that it's pretty common that, for example, if my interviewer is standing right there and I'm talking into this direction, then you want there to be space into the direction that I'm talking into. So what that means is I do not position myself like this and then talk into this direction . Instead, I position myself on the subject on the other side of the frame, talking into the empty space, so to speak, because this will feel way more natural. And by the way, this also works. If you're much closer in the frame, let's see, for example, like this I'm still talking to my interviewer and it looks natural, looks good, and that's compared to something like this. It looks totally awkward. Everybody would recognize that looks our word. But you know now why it looks awkward because the lead room is on the wrong side. The lead room is here. So is not really a lead room. Actually, it's more like a small, like an empty space that's not filled correctly here. Some other examples off the correct use of lead room. So how can use that in practical way? For example, in interviews, let's imagine you have an interview situation. You film an interview. The person who makes the interview who asks the question should never stand directly behind the camera because number one that's awkward for the person who's getting interviewed because you don't want to talk to a camera are you don't want to have a camera in between the person you talk to and yourself and the other thing is, you can make use of this beautiful concept of lead room because if you position yourself there or there, you already know how to put your subject and how to you know how to put the camera in the framing in order for it to look amazing. And this is why I need room is important 5. Being Centered (Symmetry): So now let's talk about the subject being centred. Having a subject in the center of the frame is pleasing for the I. Most people enjoy visual symmetry, and if you just put your subject into the middle of the frame, especially if the surrounding if the empty space in the frame is actually empty and there's no clutter and something like this right now, where you have blue wall in the background, nothing is really happening. It's subject is in the middle. This will always look good, especially in combination with the other routes that we learned already. The correct headroom, the rule of thirds. And that's basically a bulletproof set up for any kind of topic. If you want to make an online course, if you want to record YouTube videos, if you want to make an interview, this all works 6. Clutter: on this brings me to the next important point, which is clutter, and I'm talking specifically about the background. So whenever we film something, a subject right, there's always things that are in the frame and things that are not in the frame. And often we worry a whole lot about what's in the frame. We should also worry about it a little bit more. What is not in the frame. So, for example, this shot right now part of white looks clean is because the background is empty. There is no clutter. There's nothing that's in the frame that shouldn't be in. The frame is basically just me and the background, which is the wall, and that's it. So there's no distraction. There is no clutter, for example, like a desk that's full of things, or a shelf that is full of stuff or some cables that fly around. It's empty, and that's part of why it looks pleasing. And that's actually something that took me quite a long time to learn and which really makes the difference between something that is technically correct, you know, in terms of rule of thirds, headroom, lead room and all that stuff lighting. If all that looks good, if the background is cluttered or doesn't make sense in terms of color or in terms of depth , which is the next topic, that will look bad. So let's go through a few examples of how that could look like all right, so I'm using the phone right now to record this, to give you just on idea of how it could look like if it's a little bit more cluttered. So right now in the background, we see all kinds of stuff, right? We can see right here. There's like, kind of artwork on the floor. Here is a white board with all kinds of stuff. I'm standing in front of the door, which is kind of distracting, and we can see, like the beginning of a screen right here in another picture on the wall and also the light switch. And this is an example of something that's still well lit. I'm still centered. The rule of thirds is still applicable, and we use it. But this image will never look as good and as crisp and clean as the one before, and an easy way to fix this. I'm going to do right now in life. It's to just take the camera, position yourself in front of the wall. You know, maybe something like this, and it will look more clean already. That's one example of clutter. Let's look at something else. All right. So let's look at this example. We're doing technically, everything right? The headroom is correct. I'm on the upper third of the image yet something just looks weird, right? And the thing that looks weird of that makes it maybe, even subconsciously, UNP leasing is the complete not even mess, but the stuff in the background, right? I mean, the emissions that's blown out right there, that's another thing. But like, you know, look at the plans. Look at the look at the chair. The TV have a light stand right behind me. This shelf it's actually okay, but you know, what are all those things doing there? So you should ask yourself this question every single time you film something and you have the time to change things even for just two minutes. Is there anything in the frame that doesn't need to be there? And if you can move it away, move it away. If you can move your subject a little bit. Move your subject because the cleaner, the frame, the better. It will look in the end. And that's just something that I really had to learn on the hard way, especially if you film in your home and your home is not always as tidy as it may be. Should be eras you wanted to be, or just not perfect for being a video recording space. Then that's definitely a challenge. And the number one tip that I can give you IHS make it s clean as possible. And I don't mean, like, clean as and clean it but clean as an no clutter. Take away this stuff that doesn't need to be in the frame, and you will be rewarded with a much cleaner image. 7. Depth: Okay, so let's talk about the next thing. We already learned a lot, so we know all about headroom. We know about lead room when we need it. We know that center. It looks good. We know about the rule of thirds. But there's another thing that can help you make an image look very pleasing. Because if you look at the image right now, you might think OK, not too shabby. Not too bad. But what's the difference between this and this? The only difference is depth. So what do I mean by depth in the mix? Before, if you remember, I was standing right against the wall and that just as a plane rule never looks good. If you have no creative, specific use of why someone should stand in front of the wall, don't do it because that always looks better than no depth. And there's a few ways to achieve death right now, I achieved depth by actually being away one to maybe like two meters away from the wall. No, I'm back at the wall. I'm coming here and I'm already automatically if I look at the monitor and separated from my background, you know my background is blurred out. My background is far away from me, and that gives me a really a slight feeling off depth. Another way of achieving that is by changing the aperture. If you have a shallower depth of field, you can create the very same effect, especially if you maybe don't have the opportunity to be really far away from your background. Right now we're of F 4.5, which is not very shallow. Let's change to F 1.8. All right, so this right now is F 1.8, and you can see that my background is blurred out quite a bit more. Let's move closer to the wall to see how. Actually the effect behaves. If we go close to the wall or it's a no, I'm right up at the wall. It's right here. And still the image looks still better than we had with F 4.5. So now we achieved depth through changing the F stop, and we change depth to go in just a few steps away from the well. But there's more 8. Live-Framing a Scene Pt. 1 (Depth): All right. So here we have an example of a frame that obviously doesn't look amazing. So one thing that you can always try if you feel like nothing looks good if you feel like you don't find the right angle for making your video, try to just go as far away as you can from the next wall or the next object right behind you. So in this case, I'm pretty much right here at those ugly shades in front of my window, and it doesn't look good. So now I'm going to just move away as far as I can and see how that changes the image. Same focal length. 50 millimeters same F stop F 1.8 very shallow. Let's see how it looks. So right now I'm sitting right here at the window and what I'm gonna do is I'm going to take the camera right here, and I move it as far back as I can almost like. Let's go to the edge of the room right here, and I just my chair accordingly. And let's see how that changes the image camera still running, by the way. Let's see. So I take my chair. Just roll it in front of the camera here, and let's just take a look. How that looks. Make some changes in height. Maybe it's kind of tilted a bit. All right, so all right, it's a look at the difference. Same basic image. I'm still there with the same background. I still don't love it, but one thing that's definitely changed, it looks much more pleasing. And I also cannot explain, really. Why, exactly, from looking at screen right now. I see the blurry background. It's still a little bit cluttered right here. It's still blown out right here, but the basic image looks so much more pleasing without any real change. So now if I add a little bit of better lighting, give me a second, all right, that's much better and lighting, and that already looks pretty good. So that's the power off death guys like, even if you don't have the perfect background, death can add so much to your image. So now I want to kind of bring to the extreme. I kind of want to bring the image even further on the way, and if you can see it right there, I can actually put it down to the entrance area of my my flat of my apartment. Let's see how that looks, OK, so I'm obviously limited to how far it can go without the doorframe popping up in the Yeah , that should be okay. I will have to probably adjust the lighting even more, or maybe even go without lighting, in this case, just for the sake off off time, maybe even a little bit better. So now we have more depth and before. But actually, now that we look at it, there is also more clubber. And so that always is a trade off. We have to think about what do we like more clutter or depth? In this case, I actually prefer the one from before. But this was really just a life kind of test. I really just tested that right now. Didn't work out quite as I thought. But, you know, that's the kind of thing you have to do. You have to test out, compare images, you know, go more depth, go less clutter, everything you want doing. In this case, I even could clean it up in the background if I want, But that's enough for a depth. Let's talk about the next topic 9. Live-Framing a Scene Pt. 2 (Practical Lights in the Background): all right. For the next lesson, I want to show you the power of having a little light in your background to make the image more pleasing, especially combined with death. So in this case, you can see my chair right there and have it can right there. That actually fits. Or is it there that actually, that actually fits perfectly for what I want to do. But it's too small. So I want to show you again. Life example before you can position in light a little bit higher if you need to. And that's just, you know, being practical. So in this case, I have to shoot boxes right here. Gonna put the light on top, just going to see how that effects the image. Let's go. All right, we can see right there. That's our image. And, you know, I would like to have my light a little bit more on the side, and actually, I think it's even a little bit too high, and I'm going to use the black box because that's a little bit more neutral. Put this down below for a second, take away the paper and to see how that's gonna look Actually, I'm thinking maybe it would like the light to be on this side rather because it doesn't look so great in from the white wall right there. Let's take a look at that Looks. Oh, okay. We almost got it. Now we have an image. Guys, Look, that's another thing that I wanted to talk about. Is the power off lights, little lights in the background and those lights air called practical is practical lighting . Okay, so we have obviously our big soft box right here. We have, you know, a little bit of daylight as the backlight in this case. But one perfect way to make your shots more interesting and more pleasing is to put a little light in the background. Like in this case, the candle actually like a lot how this looks place a lot with a contrast blue wall, orange candle. You know, orange looking skin tones looks really nice. And that's actually a good example of practical lights. So what else are practical eyes? You can use pretty much. Everything that could have small led is you can have candles. You can have just normal, like room lighting. Like actually this case, another life addition right here. Let's look at this. It's a little bit too short. How's this for practical? All right, there we go. Same principle works also pretty OK, and you can pretty much use everything you have in your flat. Kenyans are pretty good because everybody has them. All kinds of small lands worked pretty well. If you have a convenient way of doing that, I always recommend having some kind of practical in your shot because it makes everything just so much more beautiful and also focuses. Three. I may be a little bit away from the clutter on the side, you know, it's not. There's not. There's a little bit of things going on on the side, but people are dragged to look at the light. You know, I'm very well lit in this case, but the backlight us well, it's actually the bag lettuce a little bit overexposed, but that just works pretty well. And that's another chip tipped off. How to use framing and practical lights in your frame to achieve the pleasing image 10. You have a homework!: All right, guys. Homework time. Take out your notebooks. This is the assignment. All right? So you learn all about headroom, lead room rule of thirds. All that good stuff. So now it's your turn to give me an example off the perfect framing that you created, Whether yourself are the subject or your friend or your mom or your cat or your dog doesn't matter, show me an example of good framing. Take a photo or making a screenshot of a video and tell us which rule was the most helpful for use. Did you pay special attention to the head room Where you just focusing on lead room was the rule of thirds that help you Was the subject just simply centered? Let us know I'm excited. Since your work. Don't be lazy. Go at it. I'm going to answer every single project, and I hope to see your work. 11. Thanks for watching!: All right, guys. And this is already the end of the class. I appreciate you taking the short little class. Now you know all that you need to know about framing your YouTube videos, online courses, interviews, your cinematography work. All of this will look better now because of the rule of thirds. The headroom, the lead room, practical and depth. And so now, with this short course, you already know more than I probably knew one year or something like this into my cinematography. I've been doing this for a while, and you can consider yourself lucky because I would have loved to know all those things when I started out. Because I made a lot of mistakes, recorded a lot of ugly looking interviews, YouTube videos, all kinds of content and client work that doesn't look as good as it could have looked. So I hope you learned a lot. I hope you like the examples. If you want to see more courses on cinematography, videography, even the freelance side of things with the business side of things. If you want to learn more about that stuff, follow me here. I also appreciate any review for the class the good and the bad. Because I really do this to give you guys value. So I'm very thankful for any kinds of feedback. And I hope to see you in the next course. Bye bye.