What does it mean to "Feature your subject"?

What does it mean to "Feature your subject"?

Featuring your subject is a very important element of shot composition. This means that, just like a sentence, every shot should have a clear subject. (There are exceptions- like a landscape.) The more your subject is…

  • highlighted
  • featured
  • complimented by, and
  • differentiated from everything else in your shot

…the better your footage will look and the clearer your story will come across.

One of the primary differences between amateur and professional footage is that in amateur footage, the frame is a complex, cluttered mess, with the viewer’s eye drawn hither and yon, never being quite sure what the subject of the frame is. Professional footage leaves no doubt what the subject of the frame is.

Simpler is almost always better. Large areas of solid color or texture in your frame, that differ in color and brightness from your subject, will allow your viewers to naturally focus on your subject.

Here are four techniques for highlighting your subject:

1. shallow depth-of-field puts your subject in sharp focus and your background and foreground out of focus drawing the viewer’s eye to the subject (for more info on DOF visit: http://dvcreators.net/4-secret-of-shooting-video-to-look-like-film-use-shallow-depth-of-field/ and watch the free “Depth of Field” tiplet)

2. good composition positions your subject so they occupy a nice, balanced portion of the frame, and the background compliments and frames, and does not interfere with, the subject

3. backlight (or rimlight) paints a “rim of light” around the edges of a subject to define them and lift and separate them from the background

4. “layered” lighting techniques cast a different light on the subject and the background
(much more info on lighting on the DV Enlightenment DVD:


Combining all four of these techniques results in a well-defined subject and a beautiful composition!


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