Award-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris pioneered the use of a device used in front of the camera lens that made all of his interview subjects appear to be talking directly to the viewer, and not to some unknown entity lurking just off-camera. This technique worked effectively on his films THE FOG OF WAR and THE THIN BLUE LINE.
The Eye-Direct system takes a similar, yet more modern streamlined approach to this technique by designing a hardware system that is both accessible and affordable to filmmakers. It is an amazingly simple, effective and powerful tool to employ. It requires no power, works with most professional camera/lens combinations and can be rented directly from me. Watch it in action here.
Its effective use can negate a disturbing trend in the oft [over]used news/video magazine interview style. One involving the use of 2-cameras, with one framing the subject looking slightly off-camera at the interviewer, while the other frames more of the subject’s profile (usually on some kind of slider-dolly). While it may seem stylistic and fashionable to dress up an otherwise boring interview with multiple camera angles and movement, it comes at a cost. In the end, the edits are jarring and there is an inherent disconnect between subject and viewer. To me, on-camera interviews are all about engagement and this expository-only method fails in this department every time.
I’m not exactly sure how or why the news/magazine-style interview has become the sort of de-facto standard that it has. Perhaps it harkens back to the “Breaking the Fourth Wall” convention of acting. To me, it’s impersonal and outdated. Though not ideal for every situation, I find the Eye-Direct approach to be far more intimate and engaging than traditional interviewing techniques. So, wherever appropriate, I’ll try to convince my video clients to go this route.