Movie Making Tips: The Rule Of Thirds

The rule of thirds you’ll see used in almost every TV show, commercial or movie you’ll ever watch.

The ‘rule of thirds’ comes from the Fibonacci numbers that occur in nature, a mathematical series of numbers occurring in plants,trees, animals and even pineapples.

The Fibonacci numbering system that is seen in many aspects of nature, if explained in depth would require a very long article dedicated just to this fascinating subject. So, if you want to find out more about the Fibonacci numbers just click the highlighted link to read more.

The rule of thirds is a ‘rule of thumb’ guideline to producing better looking video or photographs. It’s pretty simple to grasp and makes a big difference, so let’s get on with the explanation of how to put the rule of thirds into practise.

Divide your image into three using imaginary lines horizontally and vertically and pay attention to where the lines intersect. See the diagram below:

Rule of thirds explanation template

Let’s say for argument sake that this is the view you are looking at in your video camera’s viewfinder. Your eyes are naturally drawn to these four intersecting points and when key compositional items are placed on these four points (sometimes called power points or crash points) you find it pleasing to the eye.

Why? You might ask. Who knows? I don’t even think that Fibonacci understood exactly why this strange mathematical equation works so well. Let’s just say that this technique mimics natural patterns and enhances your work. In fact, if you use the rule of thirds as much as you possibly can it will enhance your work a lot.

Rule of thirds 1

Here’s a picture of several different landscapes. Which one looks more interesting to you? The one on the right of course. This is because the photographer was following the rule of thirds for the right-hand photo. This is what the picture looks like with a grid overlaid:

Rule of thirds 2

It doesn’t have to be a landscape scene. It could be person, where you might want to position the eyes on one of the intersecting points to add effect, or it could be an object. Experiment with this technique, as it is not an exact science, just try to roughly work in the rule of thirds naturally, without measuring anything, and your creative works will look much better as a result.

Most people when they begin photography or filming tend to place everything in the centre of the picture. This is fine for family snapshots of course, but if you want to take interesting and beautiful looking photographs or video footage it pays to get comfortable with this technique.

Rule of thirds 3Rule of thirds 4










Have fun with this technique. This method can even improve artwork and most creative works in general. Hard to understand the reasons as to exactly why it works, but it’s as easy as pie to implement. Enjoy 🙂

Article by Kevin Baker

Images courtesy of Wikipedia


Leave a Reply