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  • Writer's pictureWoody Harrison

What are you looking at?

Eye contact is what makes conversations normal. Without it, there's a missing connections. It just doesn't feel right.

Interviews for videos are no different. Eye contact is infinitely more engaging for the person watching the video. It's like grabbing someone by the eyeballs and not letting go.

So here's a tutorial on how I achieve eye contact with the interviewee.

First, Errol Morris is a pioneer in this field. He practically invented this style. He named the set up: Interrotron. But to pull it off takes a lot of gear.

2 Cameras


2Monitors and all the other fixin's...cables, mics, etc. The basic idea: The output from camera 1 goes to the input on the teleprompter monitor on camera 2 and vice versa.

looking at the camera interview
Direct eye contact interview

looking at the camera style interview
Errol Morris interrortron interview set up

It's interviewing someone through a TV screen. Each person, interviewer and interviewee, has their own camera and teleprompter. If you're familiar with a teleprompter, it usually displays scrolling words on a monitor projected onto a piece of glass at a 45 degree angle in front of the lens. With the Interrotron, instead of words, it's showing the face of the other person because the monitors that usually have words are being fed a video signal from the opposite camera. See below:

looking that camera style interviews
direct eye contact interviews

Notice the two separate camera and teleprompter setups? This is what it looks like when you're looking into your camera. You see the person, not words.

interviews looking at the camera
direct eye contact interview style

So you got? It's pretty simple once you see the parts.

Iv'e shot hundreds of hours of interviews this way and it is a huge PITA!!!

But guess what, there's an easier way. Much, much easier.

Enter the EyeDirect. The EyeDirect is a simple plastic box with mirrors. That's it! It fits onto the front of the camera just like a traditional teleprompter, but instead of having to set up a whole other camera system, the interviewer simply sits next to the camera, which they would anyway, and the internal mirrors do the rest.

how to get direct eye contact interviews
direct eye contact interviews

looking at the camera style interviews
eye direct box

Normally, you'd be looking at the face of the interviewer. Now, when you look at the face/reflection of the interviewer, it's reflected IN FRONT of the lens, thus, you're looking at the interviewers face AND into the lens at the same time. This achieves direct eye contact with the interviewer and ultimately, the person watching the video.

This is exactly what I used recently in a series of interviews for Nasdaq during SXSW. This little box was super easy to use, and everyone was totally comfortable, which is the most important thing. Here's some screen grabs of the results.

kino flo diva lighting set up
looking at the camera style interviews

kino flo diva lighting set up
looking into the camera interview set up

You can see clearly, direct eye contact. No electronics, no cables, no separate cameras.

This little box is going to be part of my kit very soon. I absolutely love filming interviews this way. The importance of eye contact cannot be overstated. And, since we can easily shoot in 4K these days, we're free to zoom in and out whenever we like, provided we're on a 1080 timeline.

Feel free to message me if you have any other questions about this, or, if you'd like to film an interview like this. Take care, Woody C. Harrison, Owner, Woody Harrison Films.


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