What makes a film visually interesting? It’s not just the story or the actors, it’s in the frames themselves.
In his article ‘The quadrant system: a simple composition technique explained’, Justin Hayes (2015) refers to the film Drive (2011) and the way in which almost every shot has a compositional balance – between left and right, top and bottom – a quadrant.
At first this might seem restrictive. But it allows a director to take a conventional shot and do unconventional things.
In this scene, the driver enters in the top left quadrant. We assume the next shot will have another person in the top right quadrant. But instead, she is in the bottom right quadrant.
When the camera moves closer, we get two shots in which the characters are short sided with tons of space behind them.
By emphasising different quadrants, you can create shots that are both tightly composed and weirdly unpredictable.
Play around with quadrants – they are an old, simple tool.
All you need are top, bottom, left and right – and the good sense in how to put them all together.
List of references
Heyes, Justin (2015) SLR Lounge https://www.slrlounge.com/the-quadrant-system-a-simple-composition-technique-explained/ (Accessed on 16 November 2018)