Simple Lines Reveal the Brilliant Compositions of Iconic Film Scenes

Each frame of a film is like a blank canvas for a cinematographer, offering them a new opportunity to create a dynamic composition. If a scene is especially memorable, it can stick with us like an impressive painting, with the characters—their props, poses, and surroundings—embedded into our collective conscious forever. Raymond Thi of Composition Cam examines iconic, visually stunning film stills by dissecting them to reveal the brilliance behind a frame’s layout.

To show how these scenes are composed, Thi overlaid bright pink lines to demonstrate symmetry, triangles, diagonals, and much more. Some stills use the grid method to create balanced frames while others focus on a central character with lines radiating from them. Many of these films feature relatively simple compositions—just a couple marks or shapes—proving that a few elements can make a lasting impact.

For those who want to see their life deconstructed in this way, Thi has created an app of the same name. It places the neon lines over the world to use as compositional reference while taking photos.

Above: The Shining

Moonrise Kingdom

Mad Max Fury Road

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Kill Bill


Life of Pi

Inherent Vice

My Neighbor Tortoro

The Graduate



Lion King

Princess Kaguya

Black Swan

Citizen Kane

Composition Cam: Twitter | Instagram
via [PetaPixel]

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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