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Grammar of the Shot, 2nd Edition by Christopher J. Bowen, Roy Thompson

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The Imaginary Line—The 180 Degree Rule

The lines of attention need to be understood, established, and respected by the production team. As the audience relies upon these to receive and maintain spatial cues, it is very important that they remain consistent throughout the editing of a scene. To help maintain lines of attention and screen direction from shot to shot there is a popular filmmaker’s concept known by several names: 180 degree line, imaginary line, action line, or axis of action. As some of the names imply, it is an imaginary line drawn through the shooting location, roughly where all of the main action occurs, and it is established by tracing the sight line of the talent within the shot (Figure 4.9).

This concept’s other name, the ...

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