Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The 180 Degree Rule

Sometimes when reading or watching something, you can identify that something isn't "right", but you're not exactly sure what that thing is. I recently did a small amount of reading about cinematic techniques which demonstrated something I was doing completely "wrong".

In one particular sequence for The Shattered War, I was breaking a film-making guideline known as the "180 degree rule". This states that two characters in the same scene should always have the same left/right relationship to each other, unless there's a specific camera movement "crossing the line" and presenting the subjects from the other side.  If this is done, it can be disorienting and jarring.

This is one of those funny rules that is totally obvious, yet I couldn't work out why a particular scene just did not work. Maybe I'm just not observant enough when it comes to cinematography, but as soon as I read about the 180 rule, I immediately knew what was wrong. As a result of this realisation, I made a new generic stage to use for conversations, where the cameras are positioned on "the other side" of the line. By default, Dragon Age always has the player on the camera's right, but now I have a stage with the player on the camera's left...

Now for something completely different...

As a result the transition from my cutscene to dialogue isn't jarring any more. This might be a minor thing, but it made the whole sequence a lot more pleasant to watch. Film techniques and film editing are the means for making good movies, and as such, they are also essential for making good in-game cinematic sequences. Now I know I must do research into film-making and directing techniques to make my cutscenes more engaging - yet another vital skill that must be added to a modder's repertoire. Any recommendations for source reading/watching material would be gladly welcomed!

1 comment:

  1. For ideas I think you could watch anything made by Uwe Boll. I've heard his movies are cinematic masterpieces.