2.1 SHOT COMPOSITION & FRAMING Citylife media team training

In this lesson we will cover the basic rules, concepts and principles of composition and how they apply to video composition.

Image composition is an age old concept. It was established by painters centuries ago and apply to all forms of images including photography and video today. The difference between still pictures and video is obvious in that video involves moving images. Nevertheless the same principles apply.

The main idea behind composition is to create an image that is pleasing and draws the viewer into the image. The "rules" that will be discussed are not hard and fast in that there will be circumstances where you choose not to adhere to them in order to create a more creative pleasing shot. However in the majority of cases adhering to these rules and guides will result in a generally more pleasing shot.

The real test of whether we have mastered a rule or technique is whether we need to consciously think about it. These composition rules must become second nature before we even consider breaking them to create specific creative shots.

Every shot involves one or more subjects. Composition and framing is all about how and where you position subjects in your screen and in the case of video, also how you intend the movement of the subject to be captured. All composition or framing involves choices by the camera operator.

Composition and framing is all about the subject. The subject is the main item of attention in our image and can be anything from an individual person, an inanimate object or groups of people and objects or even a wide expanse of beautiful scenery.

It is all about WHAT is contained within an image. For most instances, this is blindingly obvious. For example a Worship Leader, a speaker or a drummer. It is critical is that we are very clear about WHAT our subject is, so much so that it becomes second nature to us. Without a subject, a video shot will result in aimless wondering with no focus.

Take a look at this video from Full Sail University about shot composition:

Once we have a subject, then composition and framing comes into play to help us decide HOW we want to portray the subject to make a compelling and interesting image. Films and movies are the best example where this art form is executed. Every shot is pre-determined, scripted and rehearsed.


Framing Heights refers to how much of a subject (eg a speaker) that we include in a shot. The following chart shows the most commonly used framing heights used in the industry.

Framing is all about where we place the main subject within the frame of our shots. This allows us to create a specific impact and allow us to project a particular mood depending on what we want to portray.

Let's take a look at this video about Framing from Lights Film School:

The following chart shows how each of the various framing shots are seen within the frame used in conjunction with the "Rule Of Thirds"

The Medium shot is the one that we use most for capturing a speaker during the sermon. This applies particularly where the speaker is standing behind a lecturn on stage.

Camera 1 typically is responsible for framing the Medium shot and following the speaker throughout the sermon. Note that during the sermon, this Medium Shot wil permanently be displayed on all the screens in the Auditorium throughout the sermon. This is typically referred to as "Isolating Camera 1". The camera operators and the Video Director will continue to compose shots and record the entire sermon even though the various shots from the other cameras will not be displayed on the screens in the auditorium.

In some circumstances the Techincal Director may instruct the team to remove the islation of Camera 1 during the sermon where there is felt to be a need to display shots from other cameras on the screen in the auditorium. Examples of these circumstances include the following:

  • the speaker uses a whiteboard
  • invites one or more individuals to join them on the stage
  • uses props on stage,


Head room is the amount of space between the top of the subject and the top of the frame.

This video from Lights Film School goes over the key framing techniques:


At the end of the day it's all about ensuring that we use our images and shots to convey what we want to say to the audience. Composition should not become so onerous that we loose sight of what we are trying to achieve. In order to ensure that this happens, we need to make framing and composition second nature so that it becomes natural behavior for us. This means practise.

So to end this lesson take a look at this video from D4Darious which takes a much lighter look at composition.

Created By
David Tan

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