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30 Degree Rule  Noun, e.g., Violate the 30 Degree Rule and the audience’s attention shifts from the film’s narrative to the question of why the camera angle shifted.

Definition: The rule that a shift in camera angle between successive shots of the same subject should exceed 30 degrees. 

History:  Inspired by filmmaking pioneer George Méliès, a Frenchman most famous for “A Trip to the Moon” (1902) and the iconic scene of a rocket hitting the eye of the Man in the Moon.  This and other eyepopping special effects made Méliès synomous with the “jump cut,” so-called because a slight change in camera angle makes a subject appear to jump. Of course, Méliès strove to avoid any jump. His jump cuts usually involved illusions of something instantaneously disappearing, appearing or transforming, but he could never identically stage the before and after shots to make the cut look seamless.

The long and short of jump cuts is that they give the impression frames of film have gone missing. And this violates a first principal of filmmaking: Never distract the audience from your narrative. Ergo the 30 Degree Rule.   

Related Topics:    framing    Dutch angle    180 Degree Rule    establishing shot   

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