Production: 2 Composition Tips for TV Format

Composition, also called mis en scene, is one of the most important elements that goes into a production. After all, what is within the frame is what the viewer will see, and it is your final product. There are 2 aspect ratios that are used in video productions. There's wide screen (16x9), which has been very popular in cinema and has now been making it's way into our living rooms with flat screen TVs. Then, there is standard (4x3), which is becoming less standard as people are trading in their big box TVs for the sleek new high definition flat screens.

These two formats make composing a frame for TV difficult because there isn't a standard format anymore. Most people have flat screens, but there are still some that have the older televisions. So, how do you compose your frame for TV? Here are 2 tips to help you out.

1. Shoot 16x9 While Framing 4x3

If you're shooting something for television, then you need to find a balance between the aspect ratios so that you can reach the largest audience possible. Compose the frame so that the action is slightly off centered. You want to make a nice composition that follows the rule of thirds, yet you also want to be sure that none of the action is cut off when it's cropped for the 4:3 ratio. This requires you to make some compromises to your creativity, but it also encourages you to come up with creative alternatives to keep your frame looking great.

No one likes to have their creativity compromised, but if you're shooting something for someone else that's for television broadcast, then odds are they're going to want you to compose your frame to be compatible with 16x9 and 4x3. Rather then get upset and bitter at not being able to do things your way, you should instead rise to the challenge and find a middle ground that makes you and your client happy. That middle ground is there, you just need to get creative at finding it.

2. Always Shoot 16 x9 Instead of 4x3

4x3 is a dying ratio that you'll only find in the homes of college students using the family's old TV and in people's bedrooms. TVs are no longer made for that format, and in ten years, almost no one will have one anymore as they eventually break down. Frame and shoot your work for 16x9 because that aspect ratio is here to last.

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