Episode’s stories are “filmed” in portrait (vertical) orientation with an aspect ratio of 3:2. In this section, we’ll cover how to make the most of 3-shots, 2-shots and close-ups.
1. Placing Characters In Zones
In determining ideal shot compositions per zone, it’s helpful to first get a sense of a 3-zone background’s coordinates and limitations (see image below).
For example, if you wanted to place two characters into zone 2, you know that you have X coordinates available between 320 and 640 and Y coordinates between 0 and 568 (the possible Y coordinates never change). That said, if you’re spot directing characters on screen into zone 2, they must be between these X values. Knowing these coordinates is also important for determining zooms, as we’ll learn further along in this section.
2. The “No-Zone”
Users playing on iPads or devices with different aspect ratios than the iPhone 6 see a slightly cropped version of the screen. For the sake of this explanation, let’s call the cropped-out area the “No-Zone.” Below is an image that shows where this area is. Make sure the top of your character’s head falls below this area or it will be cropped.
For 3 characters standing in default positions (1.280% and at a Y-axis coordinate of 0) in a zone, it’s often best to stay at the default zoom of 100%. From there, there are 3 default positions to have the characters standing in:
One of the downsides of filming in portrait (vertical) orientation is that there’s usually some negative space at the top of the screen. While we can’t address the issue of negative space at the top of the screen, we can make sure that there’s not negative space at the sides of the screen by framing 2-shots tightly around the characters. We do this by zooming in on the characters enough to tightly frame them on the screen.
Below are two examples that illustrate the difference between a “loose 2-shot” and a “tight 2-shot” (i.e. with negative space at the sides of the screen).
Ideal 2-Shot Zoom Levels for Characters in Default Positions:
To produce a tight 2-shot like in the screenshot above, there are 3 ideal possible zoom coordinates per zone based on where the 2 characters are placed. A zoom level of 125% is generally ideal for two characters in these positions. The chosen Y coordinate of 325 is an arbitrary number, since characters could be as high up on the screen as you’d like, but characters tend to look good there. The chosen X coordinates are broken down such that: for screen left/upscreen right positioning, it’s 40 pixels in from the left; for upscreen left/screen right positioning, it’s 40 pixels in from the right; and for upscreen left/upscreen right positioning, it’s exactly the midpoint of 160. Below are examples of the ideal default zooms for a tight 2-shot:
Make sure there’s room for your character’s arms to move during an animation. A good way to do this is to keep her back close to the side of the screen, and keep an “arm’s worth” of space free in front of her. If you don’t make adequate space for arm movement, your character may go out of frame and it will look awkward.