Rule of thirds in Film: An Incredibly Easy Method That Works

13 March 2011

This quite simple rule of thumb, which was first documented in the 18th century, is today used by filmmakers and artists, who want to achieve a more interesting image composition.

Applying the rule

The rule states, that you separate an image into nine equal parts, dividing it twice vertically and twice horizontally.

Points of interest should now be placed along these lines or their intersections. By following this rule, the image becomes more interesting, by creating tension and energy.

When placing a character or other moving object on these lines, make sure it has more space in the direction it moves. (unless you have a reason not to, eg. the character is being followed)

rule of thirds explained with "evolution" by alex glawion

 

Lets look at some pretty pictures and see how this rule was applied in Pixar’s Film “The Incredibles”

rule of thirds explained with "incredibles"

rule of thirds explained with "incredibles"

rule of thirds explained with "incredibles"

rule of thirds explained with "incredibles"

rule of thirds explained with "incredibles"

rule of thirds explained with "incredibles"

 

Live-Action Films such as Steven Spielbergs “Warhorse” use this rule as well:

rule of thirds explained with "war horse"

rule of thirds explained with "war horse"

rule of thirds explained with "war horse"

rule of thirds explained with "war horse"

 

Obviously, using this rule on every one of your shots and images won’t magically make them look like filmstills from a blockuster.

There is much to be considered when composing images, such as light, depth, weight, movement, lines, forms, masses, balance, focus and color, to name a few, that are equally important to achieve aesthetic imagery.

Of course rules can be broken, but I find it wise to know how and why to apply them first before I do so.

More in-depth information on this subject:

How have you utilized the rule of thirds in your projects? Share your insight in the Comments!

Alex - post author

Hi, I am Alex, a Freelance 3D Generalist / Motion Designer and Compositor currently living in Frankfurt, Germany.

I have built a multitude of Workstations and Renderfarms for all kinds of 3D related use cases and love to optimize them as much as possible.

After working in the 3D/VFX Industry on-staff for several years, I have recently gone freelance and am having a blast!

Feel free to comment and ask for suggestions on your PC-Build or 3D-related Problem, I'll try my best to help out. :)

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Hassan Yola
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this rules work well personaly I use it for evry single shot that I create …

peeter
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looks pretty random to me, can’t tell any difference where the points of interests are.

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[…] applying the ” Rule of Thirds” will drastically improve your images. Available at:  http://www.cgdirector.com/learn-how-applying-the-rule-of-thirds-will-drastically-improve-your-render… ( Last accessed: 24th September 2016 […]