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

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Always Be Aware of Headroom

An important part of your compositional considerations should always be headroom—how much or how little space you allow at the top of the frame for a person’s hair or hat, etc. Too much headroom will force the eyes and face of a character too low in the frame. Too little headroom will raise them too high in the frame or simply look wrong due to the chopping off of the forehead and so forth. If you have to err in one direction, however, you should have less headroom. Why? Well, when you give too much and force the face lower in the frame, you also force the mouth and chin lower. As the person speaks it is very likely that the bottom of the chin and jaw will break below the bottom edge of the frame in a CU shot. Since ...

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