Master cinematographers approach every frame as an opportunity to convey the feel of the scene. And one of the things that really helps them to achieve it is composition—the way elements (actors, scenery, props, etc) are placed on screen in respect to each other and within the frame itself has a huge impact on our viewing experience.

To show the brilliance behind a frame's layout, Raymond Thi of Composition Cam analyzes visually stunning films, adding simple, bold lines to demonstrate triangles, quadrants, and other geometric shapes that please our eyes.

As you will see, some pictures use the grid method to create balanced frames while others focus on a central character instead. Many of these films feature relatively simple compositions too, proving that a few elements can make a lasting impact. If you know how to use them.

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#1

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049

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Justin G
Community Member
1 month ago

What a beautiful movie

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Film director and cinematographer (a combo that makes her a rare breed), Elena Rossini, appreciates Thi's work, putting the spotlight on frame composition. "Whenever people discuss the work of great directors, they often fail to mention the art of cinematography," she told Bored Panda. "But for me, it is truly essential and is what separates good from masterful directors. After all, film is a visual art."

Rossini's favorite filmmakers are also those who put a lot of effort into composition. "Stanley Kubrick, Wes Anderson, and Céline Sciamma [are probably at the top of this list]. 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire' was a masterpiece in my opinion, with every shot carefully composed as if it were a painting.

For her, the most successful compositions are those that help the storytelling, creating a sense of awe and wonder (Sciamma, Kubrick) or make you relate to a character (Anderson).

#2

The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, Space Odyssey

The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, Space Odyssey

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Janelle Madison
Community Member
1 month ago

Wow this is awesome!

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#3

The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)

The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)

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Mary Rose Kent
Community Member
1 month ago

Jodie Foster was on the Graham Norton show and she talked about how she and Anthony Hopkins never talked to each other until the shoot was done because they were both so afraid of the other.

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"My favorite composition technique is the one-point perspective," Rossini said. "It's Stanley Kubrick's signature shot (I talked about it in my blog), where all the lines in the composition harmoniously converge to a point in the distance. It is no coincidence that Kubrick's shots are so beautifully crafted, as he started working as a photographer and then made the transition to cinema."

Since the filmmaker also admires Wes Anderson, Rossini loves his high-angle POV shots "as they put you in the shoes of the characters, creating an added sense of intimacy."

If you would like to try these composition techniques for yourself, Thi has created an app that applies these lines to your iOS device.

#4

Stranger Things

Stranger Things

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tomruns12
Community Member
1 month ago

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Seriously this doesn't take thought.

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#5

Star Wars: Episode Iv - A New Hope (1977)

Star Wars: Episode Iv - A New Hope (1977)

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RaroaRaroa
Community Member
1 month ago

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Oh look! Someone drew lines along the perfectly natural lines of the perspective in this shot. No, I don't get what the big deal is here.

#6

From 'Sherlock'

From 'Sherlock'

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Marlowe Fitzpatrik
Community Member
1 month ago

Actually, on the 8th pic (second from below), the focal point is the picture on the wall, not the ground.

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#7

The Simpsons

The Simpsons

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Random Person
Community Member
1 month ago

the rule of thirds works

#8

Get Out (2017)

Get Out (2017)

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Niall Mac Iomera
Community Member
1 month ago

Wow,.they did literally the most obvious framing choice.

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#9

Her (2013)

Her (2013)

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Kno
Community Member
1 month ago

Great movie.

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#10

Isle Of Dogs

Isle Of Dogs

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Mary Rose Kent
Community Member
1 month ago

I’m not a huge animation fan, but I liked this so much, that I was quite interested in a second viewing.

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#11

Twin Peaks (The Return, Part 2)

Twin Peaks (The Return, Part 2)

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Red Ruffensor
Community Member
1 month ago

That show just freaked me out.

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#12

Yojimbo (1961)

Yojimbo (1961)

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grey galah
Community Member
1 month ago

this reminds me so much of the Renaissance grid for perspective

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#13

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)⠀

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)⠀

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Glenn Dube
Community Member
1 month ago

this looks like an Alex Coleville painting

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#14

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

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Haley Brock
Community Member
1 month ago

i love this movie-

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#15

Oldboy (2003)

Oldboy (2003)

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Aria Whitaker
Community Member
1 month ago

This movie is NOT for the faint hearted!

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#16

500 Days Of Summer (2009)

500 Days Of Summer (2009)

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Piet Puk
Community Member
1 month ago

Closely related to "Her".

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#17

The Grand Budapest Hotel" (2014)⠀⠀

The Grand Budapest Hotel" (2014)⠀⠀

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Dana
Community Member
1 month ago

You and I remember Budapest very differently...

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#18

Reservoir Dogs (1992)⠀

Reservoir Dogs (1992)⠀

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Bonnie Davis
Community Member
1 month ago

Awesome movie!!!

#19

The King's Speech (2010)⠀

The King's Speech (2010)⠀

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Mary Rose Kent
Community Member
1 month ago

Such a GREAT movie!

#20

Birdman (2014)

Birdman (2014)

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Mary Rose Kent
Community Member
1 month ago

Such a profoundly moving film!

#21

Rule Of Thirds In Star Wars (Original Trilogy)

Rule Of Thirds In Star Wars (Original Trilogy)

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#22

"Selma" (2014)

"Selma" (2014)

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Piet Puk
Community Member
1 month ago

Or The Walking Dead, if you flip the image.

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#23

Drive

Drive

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Mary Rose Kent
Community Member
1 month ago

Even with Carrie Mulligan in it it lost my attention in no time.

#24

The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001)

The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001)

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Easily Excitable Panda
Community Member
1 month ago

I've seen this movie a dozen times, and I never realized how perfectly framed that shot is before! I need to keep my eyes open for this.

#25

Game Of Thrones (TV Series)

Game Of Thrones (TV Series)

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Dana
Community Member
1 month ago

I see no one in the 1st pic...

#26

Black Swan (2010)

Black Swan (2010)

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#27

A Clockwork Orange (1971)⠀

A Clockwork Orange (1971)⠀

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Marlowe Fitzpatrik
Community Member
1 month ago

Um... Am I missing things? Maybe I just don't understand this thing because it's pretty obvious to me that the group is the center of perspective??? !!!

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#28

Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket

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Luther von Wolfen
Community Member
1 month ago

I'm learning from all this that there are about five things that filmmakers do over and over and over.

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#29

The Neon Demon

The Neon Demon

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#30

Okja (2017)⠀

Okja (2017)⠀

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Mary Rose Kent
Community Member
1 month ago

I tried to watch this and just Could NOT get into it.

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Note: this post originally had 118 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.

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