180 Degree Rule in Filmmaking | Cinemadio

180 Degree Rule in Filmmaking | Cinemadio

180 degree rule

Wondering to know the science of 180 degree rule in filmmaking?, After going through this post you will feel like it’s not a rocket science.

Shooting a movie or any cinematic series is much more than just placing a camera at any place and shouting action!

There are various rules that are followed in order to shoot any scene, and even though the final cut may look like it’s just random footage, the actual process may be filled with rules that are made specifically for the purpose of filmmaking.

One such rule in the process of shooting a scene is the 180-degree rule. It is used to serve as a guideline for on-screen spatial and directional relationships between two characters or between a character and an object.



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In this article, we will cover 4 major aspects of the 180-degree rule.

  • What is the rule?
  • How to follow it?
  • What breaks the rule, and
  • How to bend the rule?


1. What is the 180 Degree Rule in filmmaking?

180 degree rule in filmmaking

In the 180-degree rule, the camera is placed on one side of an imaginary line between two characters in such a way that both the characters appear to be facing the same direction, even when the camera is moved.

The technique allows for an expansion of the frame into the unseen space offscreen.

By following the 180-degree rule, the characters maintain the same left/right relationship to each other, keeping the space of the scene orderly and easy to follow.

If the camera jumps over the line, it may create a visually distracting effect for the viewer. In filmmaking lingo, this is known as jumping the line or crossing the line.

Now, you might have a question that whether or not this rule can be broken, or can you bend it a little?

Well, it is not mandatory to keep shooting the entire scene by following the rule.

But by breaking the rule and placing the camera in way that it jumps the line, your scene will look disoriented. And if you slightly shift from the rule, the effect will be visible in the scene.


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2. How to Follow the Rule?

follow rule

Following the rule simply means following the imaginary line.

Once you’ve decided where your line will be, you will then have to decide on which side your camera setup will be placed.

As long as your camera is on the same side of the line, you are good to go. If your camera setup is not on the line, you have jumped the line.

That’s it. It really is that simple!

3. What if the 180 Degree Rule is Broken?

if 180 degree rule broken

If you’ve been a part of a film crew on set, you must have heard something line “Don’t put the camera there, it will cross the line.”

By saying that the camera is crossing the line, or is jumping the line, it is implied that the camera has been set up in a manner that is on the wrong side of the imaginary line.

When a scene is shot by crossing the line, it gives a visual impression of disorientation and may look chaotic.

However, many filmmakers decide to break the rule intentionally for adding various effects. They also do it to give an impression of chaos.



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4. How to Bend the Rule?

bend 180 rule

As we have already told you, there is room for bending the 180-degree rule. It means that you can go a little on and off with the line. Let us tell you how you can do that.

The Neutral Shot:

This is a type of shot where the scene is shot from the top of the line. By doing so, the imaginary line no longer really exists and hence there is no right or wrong side of the line.


Cutaways are shots where the scene cuts from the actors to another scene which does not have any pre-determined orientation. This allows the cinematographer to create another line in the next scene and work accordingly.

By Moving the Camera:

In these types of shots, the viewers are able to see the camera movements. This is done to move across the scene. The camera moves from one point to another and the scene is shot uninterrupted for better visuals.


These are some of the basics of the 180 degree rule. We hope that you will find it helpful. We will see you with another article, until then take care and goodbye!

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