Cinematography and Editing Basics

Even with a virtual environment, it’s still a good idea to follow basic cinematography and editing fundamentals. While things like lighting and lenses aren’t always under your control, there are still some basics you can follow.

The rule of thirds

Next time you watch a movie, take notice of how the characters are framed.

In nearly every shot you will notice the subject is located in one of these four areas.

You can use this same principal when making machinima.

180 degree rule

When two characters are facing each other, make sure the camera is always on the same side of them. Switching sides may disorient the viewer and confuse them about where the characters are facing.

You can mix it up with wide shots, close-ups, or over the shoulder shots to add some variety.

Establishing shot

An establishing shot is a shot that’s used to indicate where a scene takes place.

In this example the top shot is held for a few second to identify the location, then cuts to the character inside the store.


Frame rate

Frame rates are something you will see as an option on many different programs or video editors. The three most commonly used are 24p, 25p, and 30p. When it comes to machinima there’s little difference between the three. Just make sure you are using the same frame rate across all programs you may be using (Fraps, Vegas, 3DS Max, etc).

Aspect ratio

Aspect ratio is the relationship between image width and height. I would recommended using 16:9, as it is the most commonly used aspect ratio and the Youtube standard.

Color Grading

Color Grading (or color correction) can often set the mood, just be careful not to abuse it.

– When editing, try to cut from action to action. Example: if someone is swinging a sword, cut while their arm is still moving.
Whip pans are a good option for comedy films.

Helpful Links
Working with Voice Recordings
Color Grading Masterclass

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