Continuity is a big part of filmmaking. If you’re shooting a short film or interview, it’s important to set the scene and establish your characters in space and time in order for the viewer to follow the action. One of the most basic continuity rules is the 180 Degree Rule.

The 180 Degree Rule states that two characters in a scene should always have the same left/right relationship to each other. If you don’t follow the 180 Degree Rule, or break it intentionally, it disrupts the scene disorients the audience. When you break the 180 line, a person who was originally facing left in a scene is all of the sudden facing right. Wait! When did they switch places?

Still not sure on the 180 Degree Rule? Watch this awesome explanation by Peter John Ross.

180 Degree Rule – Moviemaking Technique from Peter John Ross on Vimeo.

Here’s another clip that explains the 180 Degree Rule using a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. We also see examples of films where directors intentionally break the rule!

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When you shoot a scene with actors imagine a line extending out between them. You can move your camera anywhere along that line, as long as you don’t cross over the line to the other side. Feel free to refer to this diagram if you need a reminder!

by Andrea Allen