the-30-degree-rule-and-stereo-vision

Walter Murch, in his book “In the Blink of an Eye” says:

[We] have difficulty accepting the kind of displacements that are neither subtle nor total: Cutting from a full-figure master shot, for instance, to a slightly tighter shot that frames the actors from the ankles up. The new shot in this case is different enough to signal that something has changed, but not different enough to make us re-evaluate its context.

The 30 Degree Rule refers to the change in the shot to create continuity in a larger sequence. It must be noted that 30 Degree isn’t a specific standard and often used elastically even to the extent of 10 Degrees. Although 25-30 Degrees is often times considered the norm.

What this rule really means is that if there is a cut between two shots then there must be a change of at least 30 degrees (approx.). This in turn helps avoiding jarring and disturbing transitions called as jump cuts.

Suppose, you have a longer shot of a person looking at someone and then you cut closer to him as he starts speaking to someone else. The rule states that there must be a change of 30 degrees between these shots.

References

Here is an interesting video from Andrew Garcia’s One Minute Film School on the topic.

You can also read the following book for detailed information on staging and camera.

Film Directing Fundamentals: See Your Film Before Shooting

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