Don’t Look At The Camera: Who came up with that stupid idea?
Robert McNamara tells all…
The clip above is from The Fog of War, a documentary film by Errol Morris.
We talked a bit about Morris yesterday, and we’ll talkÂ about him more later, but one of Morris’ great inventions was the idea of interviewing through the Telepromoter.
The Teleprompter (I think the correct trademarked spelling is teleprompTer but don’t ask me why), is that big mirror thing that sits in front of the camera.Â It’s a two-way mirror, so you can see through it from the front, but it reflects from behind. In TV studios they hang it over the front of a camera and run text through it. That’s how ‘anchors’ are able to read so much text. The only real talent you need to be an anchor is to be able to read without moving your eyes. Learn that trick and you too can make $14 million a year for working 22 minutes a night.
OK. Enough on that.
In any event, what Morris did was to run his own image through the teleprompTer, and in doing so, was able to conduct his interviews in this way. The result it that the subject ends up looking not only at Morris, (or his video image as he asks the questions), but also directly at the viewer.
In ‘conventional’ TV, we were always told to tell the subjects – ‘don’t look at the camera’.
Don’t you WANT the audience to have eye contact with the subject?
What conventional TV wants is for the audience to have EAR CONTACT with the subject.
Take a look at this clip of an interview with the same Robert McNamara on the ‘highly rated’ 60 Minutes program[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hDjvKF_X78&feature=related[/youtube]
Now, you tell me.
Which is the more powerful moment.
McNamara looking at you, or McNamara looking at Mike Wallace off to his right?
So let’s ditch Mike Wallace.
It’s great that HE has a very intimate experience. Unfortunately, it’s the audience who pays the price for his good time.
The subliminal attitude here is ‘screw the audience, this is a movie about how close our ‘stars’ are to the heavy hitters. You, the viewer, get to watch’.
Well, the web of course is a different animal.
Online video is a much more intimate experience. After all, it’s really just you and the video.
You and the subject.
So the subject should look at the camera. Because by looking at the camera, they’re also looking at the viewer.
And after all, that’s who you’re making the video for, no?
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