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Video Tutorial: What Does “Dirtying the Frame” Mean?

Zach Ramelan

With this technique, you can add even more dynamic movement to your moving shots and more depth to your simple shots. So how does it work?


All right, if we can all be mature about this, it’ll be a lot easier to explain this technique. I mean, easier said than done; I want to share with you one of my favorite filmmaking tricks, and it’s called “dirtying the frame.”

Go ahead. Take a minute.

Okay, dirtying the frame is my go-to method to give moving shots more movement and simple shots more depth. Here’s how it works.

Find the angle and subject you want to capture. If the frame doesn’t seem interesting enough, you can use objects, props, and even characters in the foreground to give it depth. If the foreground object doesn’t serve a purpose outside of stylistic enhancement, be sure to blur it out more with a wider aperture or a longer focal length. This will ensure that dirtying your frame doesn’t distract your audience.

Video Tutorial: What Does "Dirtying the Frame" Mean? — Foreground Rail

Dirtying the Frame can also be used to capture the POV of a character, either by filming over their shoulder to gain perspective or filming to imply someone who’s watching from beyond the frame. This is a great way to enhance the creep factor of any shot.

Video Tutorial: What Does "Dirtying the Frame" Mean? — Dirty POV

Take a look at the full video for more tips on how you can use this technique to add some drama to your cinematography. And if you’re looking for more video tutorials? Check these out.

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