The camera not only “puts a frame” around a segment of the scene, but modifies whatever it shows. The screen totally isolates its subjects so that the viewer cannot see whatever else is happening and the resulting image is flat.

The Effect Of The FrameThus the frame creates unique relationships develop within it that are not present in the actual scene. In many cases, our own experience helps us rationalize and interpret so that we make a pretty accurate assessment of what we are seeing.
Here are some basic composition guidelines.


You choose exactly what is to be seen in the picture, and what not. You may help concentrate attention, or you can try to show more subject detail. You might even omit information deliberately—and then reveal it in a later shot.

As all parts of the frame do not have equal pictorial value, the effect of the image changes depend¬ing on where you place the main subject. How the shot is framed will not only alter composition but it can influence the audience’s interpretation, too.

Framing the image within the video screen is a framing guideline. It occurs when the camera operator selects something that will appear in the foreground, creating a frame made of a fence, a building, a window or doorway, a tree, and so on. The frame object must not dis¬tract the viewing audience from the primary subject on the screen.

Pictorial Balance

Balance is the key to a good composition: not the equal balance of formal symmetry, but an image with equilibrium. The balance of an image can be affected by:

The size of a subject within the frame, Its tone, Its position within the frame, The relationships of the subjects in the shot.

A balanced picture makes all the subjects belong to a shot. Although misbalance can be deliberately sought to create dynamic tension, use this sparingly. Balance can be dynamic. Shots can be continually readjusted to balance the image by moving a person, altering the framing, and so on. This readjustment allows you to redirect attention or to alter the picture’s impact.

You cannot measure balance, but there are a number of useful guiding principles:

  • While centring the object in the centre of the frame is okay and safe, it can be very dull to watch.
  • A subject or object on one side of the frame usually requires some type of counter¬balancing in the remainder of the shot.
  • Tone significantly influences visual weight.
  • The darker-toned subjects look heavier and smaller than light-toned subjects.
  • A small darker area, slightly offset, can balance a larger light-toned one further from the pictures centre.
  • People are always drawn to look at the brightest area of the image. This means that the public can be directed where to look by making that area a little brighter.
  • Regularly shaped subjects have greater visual weight than irregular ones.
  • Warmer colours (red, orange) appear heavier than cooler ones (blue, green); bright (saturated) hues look heavier than desaturated or darker ones.

There are many ways to change the balance and emphasis of an image:

  • Change the lens (zoom in or out).
  • Adjust the aperture to adjust the focus (depth of field).
  • Alter the camera position, which also may require changing the lens (zoom)._
  • Move or adjust the subjects.
  • Change the camera height.
  • Adjust the lighting so that it is correct.

Unity (Order). When the composition of a shot is unified, all its components fit together and form a complete pattern.