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Old November 9th, 2009, 11:24 PM   #16
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Keep in mind that MY opinion is that the viewer is a casual observer of a conversation (that may be completely one sided) and NOT the direct participant in the conversation, hence the off axis eye line. A PRESENTER giving factual information TO THE VIEWER should be reading a teleprompter and looking right down the barrel of the lens. Think "Uncle Sam wants YOU!" - not the guy sitting beside you, he wants YOU!
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Old November 13th, 2009, 01:08 PM   #17
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I agree with Shaun, the viewer is simply an observer listening in on a conversation. An interview subject looking straight into the camera is too obtrusive.

This is not an opinion, this is basic fundamentals of Documentary content.
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Old December 6th, 2009, 07:52 PM   #18
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I am a fan of the interviewee looking off-axis if they are asking questions.

For training videos or hosts...that is when subjects should be looking at the lens. In a way, when the audience is talked to/looked at, you are breaking the fourth wall. You are acknowledging them watching and this has to be understood when choosing angles.

That and when you cut between interviewees it looks odd to go from one person looking at the camera to another looking at the camera. It just feels less jarring/more natural for someone to be on an angle and looking with a proper eyeline off-axis to a camera lens.

On top of this, when you interviewees are discussing controversial subjects, you can put opposing viewpoint holders on opposite sides. Again, a psychological reason for composition...and yes it does matter!
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Old December 7th, 2009, 04:02 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Morrow View Post
Sitting screen right and looking to the left if they're the good guys, sitting screen left looking right if they ain't (bankers, vivisectionists, oilmen, divorce lawyers).
Good point, never thought of it like this.
Will try to explore this style in the near future.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 05:18 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dutch Simpson View Post
I agree with Shaun, the viewer is simply an observer listening in on a conversation. An interview subject looking straight into the camera is too obtrusive.
This is not an opinion, this is basic fundamentals of Documentary content.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 11:10 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dutch Simpson View Post
I agree with Shaun, the viewer is simply an observer listening in on a conversation. An interview subject looking straight into the camera is too obtrusive.

This is not an opinion, this is basic fundamentals of Documentary content.
Oh well... No disrespect intended,
but your statement sounds a bit too... fundamentalist to me
(a word of caution: my degree is in economics, not in doc. filmmaking...).
Been around a while, watched a number of docs.
with all possible interviewing angles,
and IMHO the bottom line is: it depends.
It depends on what you're looking for,
on what degree of "intimacy" or "detachment"
you (as the filmmaker) want to achieve
with your talent.
It depends on how you set your priorities.
It depends on the subject of your story
(how about interviewing a guy walking
or sitting on a rope at 300' altitude
between two Manhattan high-rises,
and looking straight down at your camera?)
Don't get me wrong: as in many other fields, there are rules
in documentary filmmaking
(but please keep their number as low as possible!),
and there are always possible exceptions.
Why would we want to limit our fun
and our freedom to explore?
After all, we're just trying to tell a story
in the most compelling way, and we should be free
to resort to whatever works best.
Having said that, MY preference is usually to
have the interviewee talk to ME and not to the camera,
because my priority is to "squeeze" out as much of her/his "soul" as possible.
As noted before, with Errol Morris' Interrotron
you can have the best of both worlds...
Then again, I can imagine topics and/or situations where the Interrotron
would NOT be the ideal setup.
It depends...

(just my last two cents, obviously)

Best

Vasco
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Old December 7th, 2009, 07:16 PM   #22
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I've seen plans for the Interrotron somewhere but if you've got $1400. to burn, check out EyeDirect 16x9 | VFGadgets.com. But I still don't think you'd get anything like the same connection with the subject as looking them straight in the eye.

Remember that Errol Morris was interviewing people who were already very comfortable talking to cameras. All that said, he got great results and if I could get people to talk directly into the lens and still maintain a strong connection with them I'd definately do it for certain documentary contexts.
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Old January 1st, 2010, 11:18 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Morrow View Post
Sitting screen right and looking to the left if they're the good guys, sitting screen left looking right if they ain't (bankers, vivisectionists, oilmen, divorce lawyers).
I understand that there is an aesthetic difference between left-to-right and right-to-left. Please explain the aesthetic which this mise en scène concept is based on. Thanks.

A more general comment/suggestion: with 16x9 aspect ratio we have more room on the open side of most framing setups, so I try to make the background relevant, balancing, and interesting (but not distracting).

I had a situation that was challenging for the interviewee. I was backed up against a wall in a corner and had to stand out of frame just to one side of the interviewee. I gave her a mark on the wall to look at to keep her from looking at the lens. She did a great job conversing visually with the mark. At one point she made a humorous remark and looked to her side at me, and it gave a marvelous energy to her interview.
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Old April 5th, 2011, 09:30 AM   #24
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Re: Interview Angles:

When filming non-professional presenters of information I try to get then to speak direct to camera. Some do a brilliant job, some find it almost impossible. Any advice on how to get the best out of the amateur presenter ?
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Old April 5th, 2011, 01:45 PM   #25
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Re: Interview Angles:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Martell View Post
Vasco loved your video.
Question: we gotta interview an huge group of old veterans of the II worldwidewar, then well' put all this footage on archive historical museum. I was planning to go for the second option as i always do for my interviews, but somebody (anthropogues told me that is not a good idea, they have to look straight to the camera), what's your point of view about my footage?

thx
Marcus, I volunteer to do interviews for these two organizations...
EAA - Timeless Voices of Aviation
and
Veterans History Project (Library of Congress)

There are some good resources you may be able to use on these websites and many interviews you can watch for examples.
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Old April 5th, 2011, 02:10 PM   #26
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Re: Interview Angles:

Mike, I'm not a fan of having the talent speaking directly into the camera unless it is an educational or instructional video. But one of the tricks I've used to get "nervous" interview subjects to do this is to put tape up a small cardboard cutout directly on top of the lens and start the interview with a few minutes of small talk with me standing so that my head is directly above the cardboard cutout directly behind the camera. Instruct your interviewee to talk to the cutout and slowly transition into the actual interview questions. At some point you will generally be able to move from directly behind the camera to your normal shooting position.

-Garrett
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Old April 6th, 2011, 03:15 AM   #27
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Re: Interview Angles:

Wouldn't like to market your cut-out would you, Garrett ?
The filming I am thinking of is, for example, when the owner of an hotel is describing its attractions and facilities to the world at large rather than to an interviewer.
Standing dircctly above and as close to the camera as possible seems to work OK in mid-shot but not so well in close-up.
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Old April 6th, 2011, 03:00 PM   #28
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Re: Interview Angles:

I'm interested in this thread, though my interest is slightly different than the original question. Hope I'm not hijacking thread.

I am almost ready to start filming a video teaching series that I have spent the last five years learning video/audio etc for. This is an instructional video on philosophical matters so is not an interview,

I am planning on using four cameras - which I have already set up in my studio - so as to create visual variety throughout the presentations. There will be around 15x 15-20 minute sections.

Talents eyes are 1160 off floor. I have set the cameras up as follows:

1. Through a teleprompter so I'm looking straight down the camera. 950mm off floor. 2600mm from talent. (0 degrees)
2. 3600 from talent - to give a longer shot, about 25 degrees to right. 1200mm off floor.
3. 1750mm from talent, about 45 degrees to right, set at slight dutch angle, 900 off floor - looking slightly up.
4. 1900 from talent, about 60 degrees to left, 1460 off floor - looking slightly down.

Off course zoom levels also vary, and can also be changed somewhat in post.

It is all in front of green screens.

I haven't as yet worked out how I will mix these angles together, having never been this way before. Will determine that at editing.

Any thoughts?

Thanks
Renton
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Old April 14th, 2011, 01:50 PM   #29
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Re: Interview Angles:

I'll second (or third) the comment about Errol Morris. His interview subjects look straight into the camera, and I think the results are fantastic. (Watch any of his great documentaries—one of my favorites is "Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control.")

In my mind, the big question is...do you have to have Morris's "Interrotron" to make this work? (In other words, can someone be relied on to always talk to the camera lens?)

All the other suggestions are good too...but I disagree that a subject looking straight into the camera looks bad. I tend to think the proverbial "looking a few degrees to the side of the camera" gets really old after a while.

What I'm interested in also is discussion about techniques for 2nd camera angles (such as having a 2nd camera shoot a 90-degree side profile...or having a really wide shot of the person and the room, etc.)

Scott

PS - Here's a NY Times review of "Fast Cheap and Out of Control" on YouTube with lots of excerpts—if you go to 1:08 you'll see some examples of interview subjects looking right into the lens...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFukiQOvDYs
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Old April 15th, 2011, 06:37 PM   #30
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Re: Interview Angles:

I don't know many non-professional speakers who can talk off the top of their head for minutes on end and look into a camera lens while doing it.

The historical oral history interviews I conduct require prompting the individual with leading questions. Depending upon the response the question elicits, the subject can sometimes become very animated, focusing intently on the interviewer as they describe the details of their story.
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