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Understanding the 180-degree line

From: 2D Animation Principles

Video: Understanding the 180-degree line

A very important principle to keep in mind when you set up your shots and when you do So here we are with a down shot we're looking right down on the And from the B camera a standard very common angle to show any scene from.

Understanding the 180-degree line

A very important principle to keep in mind when you set up your shots and when you do storyboarding is the 180 degree rule, and sometimes this is called the line of camera or the line of action, but from now on I'll just be calling it crossing the line, and whether you should or should not cross the line. So what we do is, if you have a shot for example, with 2 characters, you draw an imaginary line between the 2 characters, and you stage your shots so that the camera always appears on one side of this imaginary line.

Obviously this isn't a hard and fast rule, but it's a very, very strong guideline and recommendation that you don't cross this line unless you have a very good reason. So what I'm going to do is to show you the kind of shot selection that you still have available to you even on one side of the line. Okay, so let's move on. So now we've moved out a little bit and you can see the camera on the bottom right of the screen and we're keeping the camera on this one side of the blue and the red characters. And we have a typical straight up camera shot, so let's see what that looks like.

So here we are with a down shot we're looking right down on the heads of the blue and the red man and we have 3 hypothetical camera shots. We'll call them A, B, and C. Here's what the shot would look like from the A camera. And from the B camera a standard very common angle to show any scene from. And from the C, another over the shoulder. This time we're behind the red man looking at the blue. That might seem to be a little bit dull, but we can go even tighter. We still have an enormous array of shots at our disposal. So in this case, I made 2 more, D and E. The D shot could be very high or very low.

In this case, I thought let's have a bird's eye view. And by now, as you can see, our, our fellows are into a bit of an argument. And the E camera is a really, really tight close up. We can go right up into his face. So again, an enormous number of hypothetical camera angles at our disposal. Now we do the bad thing, we cross the line. So let's see what that looks like. So essentially, it inverts the camera direction, and we have the red man who was on the right side, or now on the left side and the blue man, who was on the left side, is now on the right side.

So essentially, it's like flipping the image horizontally. This is how the brain is going to interpret it. So now I'm going to show you what this actually looks like when you cross the line. So we begin with the A shot. We're over the shoulder of the blue guy, looking at the red. We pull out for a much wider shot. And we can see already, blue man losing his temper. Over the shoulder of the red man, blah, blah, blah. And now we'll do the bird's eye shot. And we can show these in any sequence. I'm just showing you this particular one because I thought it looked okay. You go in tighter for the extreme closeup.

He is really looking angry now, and now we're back out. We're back to the B shot, everything's still fine and then bam! We have crossed the line, and now the red has turned into blue, and blue turns into red, and when you do this a lot, what you have is extreme confusion. You just made it very, very difficult for the audience to follow just what is going on here. Now we can keep on going, and we're back on the right side again, which of course, moving to the right side means you've jumped the line one more time. So that's the rule. You imagine this line that doesn't actually exist, but it's very, very important, and you stay on one side of that line unless you have a very good reason for doing it.

If you cross that line, you have to make sure that the audience knows that you've crossed it and they can go with you. You will see really great filmmakers break this rule deliberately. Stanley Kubrick broke it all the time. He was a genius and he knew what he was doing and he did it deliberately, not accidentally. You need to be very, very careful yourself whenever you do this. I very rarely cross that imaginary line, it's quite a scary line so you need to respect it. The one exception to keep an eye out for when you can do it usually with some degree of safety is in scenes where you have a bar, and you have some characters on one side of the bar and you have a barman on the other.

I've been watching these and you can usually tell that's it's quite safe to do it in bar shots. It's the one time you can really get away with it. But you must be careful and watch out for it because it can really, really make your scenes look messy.

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This video is part of

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2D Animation Principles

35 video lessons · 6773 viewers

Dermot O' Connor
Author

 
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  1. 1m 42s
    1. Welcome
      51s
    2. Using the exercise files
      51s
  2. 18m 9s
    1. Understanding appeal and design
      4m 3s
    2. Comparing body types
      6m 27s
    3. Understanding silhouette
      1m 52s
    4. Creating gesture drawings
      2m 50s
    5. Tying down the drawing
      2m 57s
  3. 18m 10s
    1. Comparing storyboard styles
      5m 8s
    2. Understanding shot composition
      4m 36s
    3. Demonstrating lighting
      4m 8s
    4. Understanding the 180-degree line
      4m 18s
  4. 13m 8s
    1. Understanding X-sheets (dope sheets)
      3m 25s
    2. Comparing frame rates
      4m 39s
    3. Creating sweatbox notes and preparation
      5m 4s
  5. 18m 42s
    1. Understanding arcs
      7m 38s
    2. Squash, stretch, and volume
      4m 59s
    3. Comparing timing and spacing
      6m 5s
  6. 10m 4s
    1. Using anticipation, overshoot, and settle
      4m 2s
    2. Breaking and loosening joints
      2m 43s
    3. Leading action
      3m 19s
  7. 19m 51s
    1. Understanding primary and secondary action
      4m 14s
    2. Using overlap and follow-through
      6m 0s
    3. Applying lines of action, reversals, and S-curves
      4m 34s
    4. Moving holds and idles
      5m 3s
  8. 15m 52s
    1. Understanding walk and run cycles
      5m 24s
    2. Creating eccentric walks
      6m 50s
    3. Animal locomotion
      3m 38s
  9. 14m 31s
    1. Finding dialogue accents
      2m 42s
    2. Creating dialogue through body movement
      2m 46s
    3. Creating stock mouth shapes
      5m 4s
    4. Using complementary shapes
      3m 59s
  10. 13m 8s
    1. Creating thumbnails
      4m 31s
    2. Comparing straight-ahead and pose-to-pose animation
      4m 37s
    3. Adding breakdowns for looseness
      4m 0s
  11. 2m 9s
    1. Next steps
      2m 9s

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