Definition of 180-Degree Rule: Creates spatial awareness by giving a viewer a sense of where characters are in relation to one-another.
Steps to execute the 180-degree rule:
1) Draw an imaginary line between your actors and only put the camera on ONE side of the line.
2) Put the subjects on opposite sides of the frame (off center)
3) Keep the camera within a 3-4 foot radius when filming character A for visual consistency; keep the camera within a 3-4 radius when filming character B for visual consistency.
The goal of the 180-degree rule is: Eyelines of characters must match up so the viewer’s brain can put scene together with limited view of location.
Error: Putting the camera anywhere in the room is incredibly confusing to the viewer because when edited, the characters appear as though they are jumping around the frame when in reality they aren’t moving at all.
Solution: One way to get around a 180-degree rule break is to cut to a neutral shot. There are several examples of a neutral shot, including: 1) where the character turns from facing one side to facing the other; 2) the character looks down or straight ahead; 3) cut to an inanimate object such as a clock or element in the room.
Reasons to not follow the 180-degree rule: disorientation of viewer, make a conversation feel like multiple scenes (example Sherlock TV show)
A: You told Walcott I cheated.
B: I know you did it.
A: Just tell me why.
B: Look, cut the crap, Hunter. I live with you. I know how much you study, or don't study. And you do better than me? Give me a break.
A: You arrogant, pompous prick! Who appointed you custodian of the medical profession? Is it because your father and his father was a doctor, some sort of genetic thing? - You're damn right.
B: Really? I grew up with it. I know what it takes to look in the eyes of dying people day after day... and come home for dinner at night. - I know what it takes. You don't have it.
A: Oh, really. And you do? If you don't like me, just say it.
B: I don't like you!
NOTE: Stop at 00:43 seconds into the video after he says, "I don't like you!"
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NOTE: Stop after she says, "You must not have been looking."