When the camera is positioned on the same side of
the action axis each time it is moved for a series of shots,
the screen direction remains the same throughout the
series. The relationship between the camera and subject
movement or action axis remains the same if the camera
does not cross the action axis. Once established, screen
direction can be maintained by keeping the camera on
the same side of the action axis.
When constant screen direction cannot be
maintained, any change in direction MUST be visually
explained to the audience. Constant screen direction
changes can be explained in the following ways:
Show the moving subject actually changing
direction. This is the most effective way to change
screen direction because the audience sees the subject
change direction and there is no doubt in their minds
how it took place.
Film the moving subject crossing the action axis
on a corner or curve. This permits the subject to exit the
frame on the "wrong side," thus changing screen
direction (fig. 13-13).
Use a reaction closeup shot of an observer
viewing the movement in the new direction. A reaction
close-up serves as a neutral shot and distracts the
audience, so the change in screen direction can take
place. A reaction close-up, in this situation, could be a
close-up of an observer's head turning to follow the
movement of the previous scene. The head of the
observer should turn as though the action is taking place
behind the camera, thus putting the camera between the
action and the observer.
Contrasting Screen Direction
Contrasting screen direction is used to show subject
movement in opposite directions. This can be shown
by a subject moving toward a distant destination and
then returning to the starting place. An example would
be a sailor who leaves the ship and walks in a left to
right screen direction to town. Therefore, the
ship-to-town direction is established as left to right.
Movement of the sailor to the right is toward the town
and movement to the left is toward the ship. The
viewer will associate the sailor's walking in a right to
left screen direction as returning to the ship. Once the
direction of travel is established, you must maintain
Contrasting screen direction is also used to show
opposing subjects moving toward each other. An
example would be two warships that are headed into
battle. The first ship is shown steaming from left to right,
and the second ship is shown steaming from right to left.
This pattern gives viewers the impression that the ships
are closing the distance between them and will soon
Static Screen Direction
Static screen direction refers to the direction that
subjects look or face. Screen direction must be
established and maintained even when the subject does
not move about within the scene. The direction in which
the subject looks should match throughout a series of
consecutive shots. The direction the subject faces can be
different from the direction that the subject looks;
therefore, the static screen direction is the direction in
which the subject is looking. To maintain static screen

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