How would you improve these web series shots?

Last week was a success, so we’re doing it again! This week, we hit “surprise me” in and picked screenshots from the first three shows that came up!

Shot 1: The Psychologist

Shot 2: The Awesome and Chris Show

Shot 3: Justice Woman

It doesn’t matter if you’re a cinematographer or simply a fan of film: how would you improve the following web series shots? Consider:

  • Production Design
  • Framing
  • Lighting
  • Wardrobe
  • Etc!

Alternatively, how would you change the following shots to fit your own preferred style? It may not be better or worse, but it would be YOURS. Let’s see what people come up with!


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Shot 1 I’d change the angle a bit so that the one person is still along the left edge, but the empty space to the right of the other person is reduced. It feels like the two people should take up the whole frame.

Shot 3 doesn’t look right with nothing on the computer screen. I’d put up a generic desktop, or possibly composite in something if the shot allowed.


Shot 1: That white door is irking me. Maybe a better background like an MD degree on the wall or something? I think they’re also too far away from each other.

Shot 2: More headroom and it’s too symmetrical to my taste. I’d also like to spruce up the background and white balance it.

Shot 3: A little too dark, but perspective and angle is good.

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Shot 1

  • The colors are really ugly, even for a clinician’s office, and the pops of color seem like after thoughts, especially when the characters are also both wearing undersaturated, darker colors.
  • I’d hang some pictures or even a framed degree on a wall or two, to give them a pop of contrast and color, and make more deliberate choices with the stuff on the table, because right now the colors don’t match with each other OR the table
  • I do like the way the frame is dirtied with the other character, though. It’s more interesting than a medium-medium.

Shot 2

  • Once again, not overly excited by the background. Even one poster on the wall above the lamp would have been nice, something simple with one or two bold colors.
  • I’m sure they couldn’t have done much with the layout of the room, but the background feels incidental instead of purposeful, with the stairs and the closet and the hallway- while I like the depth it adds to the background, I don’t like that there’s so much unused space

Shot 3

  • I get that it’s an office, but boy are the colors ugly. Also, from what I could tell from this show, this office is used in all 4 seasons, meaning the character is settled here. There could be a bit more personality flair somewhere- a framed photo, a few knicknacks, something with color to draw the eye away from the… yellow wall? Beige wall?
  • Also, there’s never anything on the computer from what I remember, but that feels like wasted space because who has a computer that’s never turned on? You could totally add something there to add to the world or even her personality (with a desktop background or screensaver?)

Haha I noted the blank computer screen too! Great minds! and @ghettonerdgirl I think we posted “maybe a degree on the wall” for shot 1 at the exact same time. Great minds AGAIN!

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“And this film we once saw was reviled for its flaws
But its flaws were what made us have fun”

– “Singer Songwriter” by Okkervil River

Haha these are meant to be learning experiences to get people to think about framing and shot composition, because not many people here can afford professional DPs and production designers. Plus, a lot of times, it’s a matter of personal style, which is still good to talk about because when you don’t have one yet yourself, seeing lots of perspectives could spark an idea!


I have made many of the ‘mistakes’ shown above. Especially with production design and color composition, but I’m hoping to improve on by seeing frames like this!

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Same! Especially now that I’m delving into directing more frequently than just writing/producing, I’ve really been enjoying seeing people’s thoughts on frames because it makes me think about my own more critically and with more purpose than “is everyone in focus? Cool let’s go in for a take” lol


I totally agree, one thing I love is grungy and ‘unprofessional’ approaches. I get that everyone wants their shit to look like a movie but I also think if we as artists are afraid to make mistakes we are fucking up. I love the freedom of the medium and I think freedom=insane, sometimes shitty wrong mistakes.

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Regarding these shots though: I’d like to see shallow depth of field in one and three. #2 is weird and interesting to me and makes me want to see more. I like the yellow cast in #3 and adds atmosphere but maybe it should be sterilized [via white balance]

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My filmmaking/writing teacher always said, “Wear your mistakes like a badge of honor.”

This helped me not be afraid to do something wrong and put my ish out there anyway.


ok I feel bad judging this because my shots up until a couple weeks ago literally was like “cool you’re in the frame and in focus lets go” but–

Shot 1

  • the colour scheme is killing me a little bit because it feels like there is no colour scheme
  • if I had shot this scene I still would have used the actress to dirty the frame but I would have probably used more of the back of her head and less of a profile, and shifted the guy in the shot more to his left/my right
  • the walls probably shouldn’t be empty? however I am always guilty of this so

Shot 2

  • the lamp in the background is cool but it’s so cool that it caught my eye wayyyy more than anything else especially because there’s nothing else going on in the background
  • idk what’s going on in the scene but if the colour scheme with the two foreground guys isn’t deliberate and signifying something, I’d put them in something else. if it is deliberate, it looks good

Shot 3

  • echoing like… everyone in that the computer should be on
  • also are the papers placed messily on purpose?
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Overall: In general, I think a frame from a webseries has a bigger job than a film or a TV Show in that it has to give us some idea of either the scene at play or an idea of what kind of webseries we’re watching. For Flagon I could get away with any kind of shot because the aesthetic went a long way. I won’t have that luxury in S2, so shot composition and what it communicates is constantly on my mind. Got a few suggestions for these shots…

Shot 1 - For a shot like this I would look to movies or TV shows that have already done the psychologist / patient scenario and see what they’re doing with that relationship dynamic. If the scene is about power and control, I might frame things more like they do in the Hannibal TV show where they come to the scene as equals in the shot and then re-frame based on who has control in the scene. Or if it’s about observing the patient I would flip the shot as shown and have the Psychologist always be closest to us (the viewer) in an observing state to the patient, with just enough cutaways to understand how we should feel about the situation. I would also fill the set with way more details to give us a quick and dirty idea of what the Psychologist is all about. Is he a family man? Is he a big game hunter? There’s also nothing in the set that the patient can use to deflect any hard questions because in a room like this those questions are going to happen.

Shot 2 - I would re-frame this shot to either show the video game they’re playing or find a new way to line these actors up in the shot so I can get an idea of the roommate hierarchy. If the game is in frame, you can use it to suggest something about the character or characters playing. Since these guys look like the stereotypical roommate situation, details like the game might help elevate the shot even more. Really, it’s about giving us information within every moment in every scene and the scene as pictured is a decent start, but I’m filling in a lot of gaps with tropes and things I’ve seen in other media. And if there’s a scene framed as shown, I would fill that background with the strangest things and have that person in the back be a lot more physical, even trying to invade the foreground but unable to. Maybe the relationship of the two guys on the couch is stronger and the guy in the back is compensating? Stuff like that.

Shot 3 - I would put something on the computer screen, keeping the shot static so I don’t have to do any complicated motion tracking. Probably a Sailor Moon wallpaper, a Buffy wallpaper, or something to betray a small detail about the character. Even the static Windows 95 BG that comes with the install could tell me all I need to know, that maybe this job isn’t permanent for her. And like others have said, I would cram as many details in the set as I could, if this is her “forever” job. I’d probably color-correct the scene too to make it a little brighter and try to evoke the office-type feel without feeling flat. I like the composition of the frame, otherwise.

I hope this helps and isn’t too mean. It’s not intended as such. Just want to help us all do great work!



I liked your post because you mentioned Sailor Moon :first_quarter_moon_with_face:



Both shot 1 and 2, there’s too much dead space on the right. But I really like shot 2 as it feels very comedic. The depth and the poses work for me. The lighting could probably be a little more even, though. That stairway looks ominous the more I stare at it. And yeah, shot 3 needs something on that computer. Though I just looked over my shoulder at work and realized there’s a turned off computer monitor behind me. So at least it’s believable.

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Ok, none of my answers are anywhere nearly as detailed or insightful of everyone else, but I have a few thoughts. All suffer from colour problems; it could be either lighting, production design or colour correction. The framing on the first shot isn’t nice. I’m not sure how I would make it better, but its very busy and the depth is very off, but again I’m not expert.

I like the second shot nothing special, but it’s the best out of the three. It has better colour but the background is a little plain, and the right side seems uneven than the right.

The third show colour wise is very yellow, and I’m not sure the context of the scene but the computer screen just being black annoys me, I understand that shoot a screen isn’t always easy, but it could have been placed better or something placed on it in post.

Just some thoughts.

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For the first shot, I’d keep in mind the rule of thirds-- the man in focus is between the half and the third, and it’s just not aesthetically pleasing, especially because there’s a large white space where he should be, so it’s a bit boring. I’d also show more of whoever’s closest to the camera, because there’s not enough of their body shown to really create a sense of depth, but enough that it’s distracting. Additionally, for PD, I’d add something on the walls, because that white door with those gray walls really don’t add anything to the scene and wash it out. Depending on the tone of the scene, I’d also darken the lighting or add light from the window, because this feels like a dramatic shot in its framing and the lighting doesn’t match up.

For the second shot, I’d shift it over just a bit so that the people in the scene are more aligned with the objects in the background. There’s a lamp that’s only partially shown, there’s a large blank depth that’s much less interesting/dynamic than the staircase, which has a lot of texture. the red lamp would also add color to a mostly blank scene. The costumes could also be amped up, especially in terms of colour, since most of the colours are neutrals or covered by neutrals.

The third is just too crowded and too close-- although it makes sense for a wide shot, a close up shot like this that shows so much stuff but with so little colour is a lot to look at without anything much to look at.

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Agreed! We are constantly learning and judging our own work and shots ourselves, looking for ways to make them better next time. With our web series MARKED, we try to do a better job with shot selection, composition, and color correction with each new episode!

Often when we are shooting, things have to happen fast, so we’ll have to quickly frame and compose a shot in the moment, on location (did I mention we’re also the cinematographers :joy::joy::joy:). Having these tips and opinions in our head helps to make composition decisions super-fast.

So yassssss, seeing all the different points of view from everyone really helps! :slight_smile:

– John Krissilas & Lena Burmenko,
Co-Creators of Marked

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