Visual Patterns

The eye is attracted by various patterns. A solemn, quiet mood corresponds to slow, smooth-flowing lines; a rapid staccato is best for dramatic situations.

Filming Visual PatternsLines can create specific feelings:

  • Horizontal lines bring about calm and tranquillity.
  • Vertical lines are for strength and dignity.
  • Diagonal lines show speed.
  • Curved lines convey serenity.
  • Converging lines indicate depth.

Leading Lines

These are natural lines that occur in the image. They lead the viewer’s eye in the direction the director wants the public to look at. The eyes quite naturally follow the lines to the subject.

Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a practical aid to help compose a picture. Divide the screen into thirds both horizontally or vertically. The rule is that the main subject should be on one of those lines, possibly on the intersection of two of the lines, it shall not be in the middle of the image but before or after the centre of the image, depending on the effect the director would like to achieve. Still, the rule is only a guideline. Good camera operators just follow it instinctively.


We judge how large or small a thing is by comparing it to items that we recognize in the picture. Otherwise, we can only guess and eyes can be easily fouled. That is what perspective lines are for – to support our impression of scale and relative size.

Subject Prominence

The environment of a subject may seriously affect our attitude toward it. Depending on how you present a subject, it can appear important or trivial, powerful or weak, interesting or insignificant. It can even be overlooked altogether!

The subject can be emphasized by isolation. The emphasis can be achieved in many ways:

  • By contrasting tones.
  • By the camera height.
  • By the composition of the picture.
  • By the subject’s position and size relative to its surroundings.
  • By using background pattern or form to make the subject look more prominent.