Production: Understanding Nose Room

Nose room, often called lead room, is the space in front of a moving or stationary subject. A nose room is an important aspect of a shot because it gives the viewers a sense of distance or direction to where the subject is facing. For example, a moving car is often shot with nose room to signify that the car is in motion to a certain direction. Otherwise, the shot will just be a stationary car.

Defining Nose Room

When a person looks at a photo or shot, he often tries to see where the subject is looking as well. The nose room, or the space between the nose of the subject and the frame where the subject is facing, gives that space or location. The nose room also provides meaning to certain facial expressions and gives composition to a shot.

Importance of Nose Room

Nose room in production is all about correctly positioning the subject on to the frame of the camera. If the position of the subject is within the camera frame, the shot will produce a different meaning than what you intended it to be. Often times, an incorrect amount of space between the subject and the camera frame will make the subject look like he is being pushed off the frame or camera.

Aside from the overall look of a shot, a nose room is also used to signify direction or movement of a subject. If you want to shot a frame where the subject is looking at a subject while focusing on the subject, then you need to put nose room between the subject and the frame of the camera in relation to the direction where the subject is looking. Otherwise, the shot will feel like just the profile of the subject.

For moving subjects, the nose room allows the viewers to see the shot as if the subject is really moving in a specific direction. In essence, the nose room provides space for the subject's gaze and his gestures so that the viewer can see them. If there is not enough nose room, it will feel like the subject is almost cut off from the frame. It is important that the camera operator or the director provides enough space to account for the look, movement or gesture that the subject will make.

Rules in Nose Room

There is no specific measurement or distance between the subject and the camera frame. However, the rule is that the space in front of the subject should be 2/3rds of the entire space, while 1/3rd should be allotted behind the subject. This general rule often applies to all types of shots, whether it is a profile shot, close up or wide shot.

The direction where you will need to put a nose room depends entirely on where the subject is facing. If the subject is facing towards the right frame, then the nose room should be on the right. If the subject is facing or gesturing towards the left, then leave enough space on the left part of the frame.

It is also important to remember that the faster the movement of the subject is, the greater the profile shot is or the larger the gestures will be, the more space you need on that specific side.

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