I Crossed the 180 on Myself

So I’m editing a series of testimonial videos I shot last week. I was shooting with two cameras: one set as a close-up, the other a wider shot.

I bring up the angles in my NLE and I see the oddest thing. The subject in the close-up is looking in one direction (left to right) but the in the wide shot he’s looking right to left. This totally trips me up.

“How is this happening?” I thought. It’s really freaking me out. I know for a fact when I was there, I had the person looking from left to right. So how is it in this shot they’re looking right to left?

Then it occurred to me. I crossed the 180. But how? This photo of the set gives the answer:

The space we were given to shoot was a small corner office. You know the kind. Where once you get all the lights, cameras, cords and audio gear set up, there’s barely any room left. There was a credenza just to the right of me, so based on where I had room to stand (in order to get the eye-line I wanted), I had to stand in BETWEEN the placement of the two cameras. Specifically I was standing right next to the right corner of that desk, just to the right of the front camera (the close-up) and to the left of the back camera (the wide shot).

If you recall, the 180 degree line is drawn from subject to subject…

The triangle represents the position of the camera.

To prevent disorientation, you must keep your camera placement on the same side. If you cross that line, you’ll get mis-oriented head placement (i.e. two people talking to each other in a scene, but each of them is looking from left to right, or vice versa).

You normally only think of it when there are actually two people in a scene (which is why it didn’t even occur to me on set that my placement was off). But in an interview where you have the subject talk off-screen, the unseen interviewer is in essence the second person. That means when considering camera placement for a two-camera interview shoot, you want to ensure both cameras are on the same side of that imaginary line drawn between you and the subject. Or, if doing a one-camera shoot and you change camera placement for a different composition, make sure your position to the camera doesn’t change. Don’t cross the 180 on yourself.

In my ten years of doing this work, this is the first time I have ever crossed the 180 on myself? Luckily, I kinda like the reverse angle look on the wide shot. It’s different. I may do it on purpose from time to time. Since there really isn’t a second person in the shot, the viewer won’t be disoriented (I sometimes flip a shot horizontally in post anyway just to mix things up, especially when I have a jump cut to cover and no b-roll for it).

Have you ever crossed the 180 on yourself?

5 thoughts on “I Crossed the 180 on Myself

  1. I have to admit I break the rule on purpose as well when I’m doing an interview with only one person on the screen. One close up shot that is almost on axis and a wide shot using a reverse angle that is more off axis. I like the look and none of the peopany or any client who has seen the videos have commented that it was distracting or confusing.

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