October 20th, 2009 by shawnmontano
I was speaking to one of my photojournalist today.Â He asked me if there was anything I didn’t have that I wanted visually for a story he shot and I was editing.Â We talked about a few things but of particular interest I asked him why he crossed the axis.Â All of the action in this story he’d shot was frame left.Â However, there was a few tights shot in which he reversed screen direction.Â So, the action in these few tight shots were from frame right.Â Why?Â After the discussion he realized my dilemma.Â Which bring me to this post.
Make Your Editor (which may be you) Happy with Screen Direction
The story for this post is Slow and Steady.
If you’re new to the Edit Foundry Blog this is how it works.Â Watch the story I’ve uploaded on my Youtube channel.Â After watching it follow along as I comment on the story.
We’re going to talk about screen direction. First a few definitions to help us along in this post
If you keep your camera and people (or object) on opposite sides of the action line, screen direction is never a problem.
Frame Left – indicates movement towards the left side of the screen.
Frame Right – indicates movement toward the right of the screen.
OurÂ story starts out with video that was given to us by Thunder Valley Motocross.Â It’s a montage of shots from various races.
Even though this was given to me I edited it with screen direction in mind. Notice all shots from from [:00] to [:11] are frame left.Â There is one shot at [:11] in the music full montage I take from frame right.Â Why?Â When I’m in montage mode, I like to break rules and go for coolness of shots.Â I liked the way the shots from frame left and frame right worked.
After that montage I go back to all shots frame left until the I take the interview full at [:18].Â Then all shot are frame right, back to interview. After that I tried to cluster several shot in which in action is coming mostly straight at you. Some are frame left and some are frame right but because they are mostly head on I didn’t feel the direction change was to drastic to be visually unpleasant.
At [:38] is a shot of Kellie on the bike, followed by a shot of the wheel, followed by Kellie on a motorcycle going over a bump.Â I break screen direction with all three of these shot.Â It works because they are all tight shot, I haven’t established any real screen direction and it’s a mini-montage.
This post is about screen direction, so let’s get to that.
At [:40] Kellie and David are talking getting Kellie ready.Â My photographer’s action line keeps David frame left and Kellie frame right.
But at [1:04] They switched sides.Â Kellie’s now frame left and David’s frame right. Cutting those two shot together with the reverse in screen direction looks bad, feels bad and I won’t do it.Â Lucikly for me my photographer shoots a pan up that helps me get out of my reverse frame problem.
If you’re a photographer and this happens, remember to shoot yourself out of the problem.Â You and your editor (again may be you) will thank you in the edit bay.Â My photographer does a good job with the action line.Â However, he can’t control Dave moving around.Â As an editor it’s my job to make sure this doesn’t get in the way.
How do I do that?Â At [1:11] Dave is frame left.Â I wait until he’s out of the shot
to make at edit.Â Dave’s now frame right again.Â But I use a shot of Kellie’s hands and their torso to make the jump less harsh.
When Kellie finally starts riding the bike she rides away from the camera.Â Notice I take the edit when she slightly leans left to get her around and back.
From there on in the sequence she’s always riding frame left.
At [2:00] she reverse’s direction.Â I use another pan up to help me get out of this looking to jarring.
The next 3 shots are frame right.Â In the third shot I allow her to turn in the shot.
and now I can get her going frame left.
At [2:22] I let her turn in frame again, allowing me to get her going screen right again.Â The reason why I turned her around again is because her final little post interview she’s frame right.Â I’m thinking ahead making sure I don’t have a screen direction problem.
A 4 shot montage after the interview I break the screen direction rule again. why?Â I’m in montage mode and don’t follow the screen direction rule.
Screen direction helps the viewer understand your visual realm your creating.
The action line keeps people or objects on the correct sides of the frame.
Imitate the eye.Â People and objects don’t reverse screen direction in the real world, why do it in editing.
You can break screen direction, just understand the rule before you break it.