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

The rule of a thirds grid is an important part of creating a well-composed shot, but it can't help your composition if you don't know how to use it. The rule of thirds is an age-old technique used by everyone, from the greatest painters to your favorite photographer.

Of course, not everyone had the benefit of modern technology and a nice little grid showing them where the dividing lines are. In this post, we'll help you take advantage of that technology, so you can begin mimicking the composition of the greats.

Why the rule of thirds is important in video

Effective shot composition is an important part of storytelling. This is true whether the story is told by a single picture or a by an entire movie. The goal of shot composition is to draw the eye to the elements you want the viewer to focus on. Many beginners make the mistake of perfectly centering the focal point of their shot. This can work, and you'll certainly see pros doing it. But often, it's not the best choice. The eye naturally wants to wander because the natural focal point then is somewhere off-center.

Placing the focal points off-center draws the viewer's eye to it in a more natural way.  Often, especially in video, there's more than one thing you want the viewer to notice. The rule of thirds is especially beneficial here. Placing everything on the rule of thirds grids creates space between the focus objects and allows the eye to take in more of the surrounding rather than focusing on a specific point. This has the dual benefit of making the visual world you are creating seem more vibrant and full.

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How to use the rule of thirds in video production

When it comes to the rule of thirds, video isn't much different from still photographs. You have to account for moving objects in the scene and certainly have to take extra care in shots where the camera itself moves, but the concepts are still similar. To effectively utilize the rule of thirds, video production teams follow a few simple steps.

  1. Identify the areas you want to draw the eye to.
  2. Split them into objects that are horizontally positioned and objects that are vertically positioned.
  3. If there is nothing in either the horizontal or vertical position, look for other things that can be used to position the shot for that grid line. The horizon, walls, and other objects make perfect candidates.
  4. Using this information, try to frame your shot, so at least one horizontal and one vertical line on the rule of thirds grid has something positioned on it.

Remember, things don't have to be perfectly on the lines. Feel free to be creative here. For example, if you have two actors who are standing close to one another, perhaps sharing a secret, it can be hard to put them on opposite sides of the screen without a close shot. However, you can put them next to each other and put the space between them on one of the grid lines.


If you know what to look for, you'll find the rule of thirds in nearly every shot you see in film. In fact, learning to identify how your favorite filmmakers used the rule of thirds is a great exercise in learning to use it more effectively yourself. As you watch your favorite films, look out for the rule of thirds. But remember, it isn't always obvious.

When you've got your shots all perfectly framed and looking like a Hollywood blockbuster, you'll need a good video editing tool to complete the look. A well-framed shot with poor editing and effects is still going to look amateurish. For professional-quality video editing, try VideoStudio. It's for beginners to use and powerful enough to get professional results.

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