5 Tricks To Add Depth To Your Shots

tricks to add depth
The lines of perspective in this view of railroad tracks adds depth to the shot.

These tips are from Director/Cinematographer Matthew Rosen, but before you watch the video, read through these tricks to add depth and think about them. That should help you see the techniques more easily in the concise video.

All video is two dimensional. Even 3-D video is still just two dimensions. It just tricks the eye into thinking there are 3 dimensions. All depth on a screen is just illusion. But the illusion doesn’t happen by itself. Creating depth makes video look more powerful. Adding depth is an easy way to build production value.

Here are the tips in the same order you will see in the video:

5. Lighting and Shading
The higher the contrast between light and shadow, the greater the appearance of depth.

4. Focus
Specifically shallow focus. You can shift or rack focus to create depth. Long lenses throw the background out of focus which puts the attention on the person or object that is in focus. Shallow focus loses perspective.

3. Perspective
When you use converging lines of perspective like a railroad track receding in the background, you add depth. Control perspective with camera placement and wide angle lenses which make the horizon appear farther away, also adding depth.

2. Parallax
When the camera is moving, objects close to the camera seem to move faster than objects farther away. Objects in the far distance appear to hardly move at all.

1. Occlusion
The subject in the foreground covers the subject in the background.

One technique that combines Parallax and occlusion is the camera dolly which not only makes a shot dynamic, but also adds depth. Think of these five tricks to add depth on your next shoot.

To learn more cinematography see Advanced Cinematography Instruction and 5 C’s of Cinematography.


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