View Full Version : What do people think of the look into the lense interview style?

Ralph nixon
03-21-2006, 01:49 PM
Trying to decide on what interview style to use. The camera as a person and the look into the lense interview? The person looking to just above the lcd screen type of interview. The over the shoulder type. Or the three quarter face type interview.

What do you other docu people think?


Robert Eldon
03-21-2006, 02:41 PM

Here's my take on it. I haven't done a lot of interviews, but here's what I know.

If the person on camera is 'commentating' (is that a word?), then look into the camera.

If the person is being interviewed and commenting on the subject, then looking off camera to the interviewer is more 'comfortable'.

If the video is instructional, then look into the camera.

My .02.

03-21-2006, 02:55 PM
Looking into the camera can be effective but in my experience, only actors can pull it off well all the time. Normal people being interviewed are much more relaxed, much more honest, when they have a human face to look at and talk to.

03-21-2006, 08:32 PM
Indeed. We do interviews all the time. I find its much easier to have someone look at the interviewer. They tend to respond better than they would looking at the camera, actors do a much better job. Plus it depends on the type of project. For example, it can be intimidating to the VIEWER to see someone looking straight at them, because it "brings" them closer to the person...etc. Ask yourself if thats what your going for.
Also I like a narrow depth of field for my interviews usually so that means the camera is nice and far from the person interviewd so they won't get distracted from looking at the interviewer.
Hope that helps!

discs of tron
03-22-2006, 08:47 PM
yeah i almost always do the 3/4 style shot. i interview from a foot or 2 to the side of the camera and the subject's eyeline goes across the wider empty part of the frame, to me.

errol morris uses the straight-into-camera thing very well, (see "first person" and "fog of war,") but that level of psychological intensity is a little much for most stuff. plus, for him to pull it off he uses a special telepropmter setup with his face showing up on the teleprompter- so the subject is looking "at" the interviewer and into the lens at the same time. otherwise it would be hard to get people to engage with the lens so directly for an extended period. if you're not errol, it'll usually look like either an anchorman, or the lame "confessional booth" shots from "real world."

03-22-2006, 09:31 PM
watch "Fog of War" for examples of how to pull off looking into lens camera style. Else, use the interview style (no lens looky look)

03-23-2006, 12:34 PM
Looking into the lens has become more common for confessional type situations. I dont recommend it very much, it makes it autobiographical, which wont work for many docs.

ash =o)

03-25-2006, 10:31 AM
Check out the doc "the corporation" if you want to see how lame it looks.