Video Tips - Looking Down The Lens vs Off Camera

Whenever we go and film with any of our clients, we set up the camera for an interview and run through what we are going to ask that person during the recording, everyone then asks us ‘where should I look?’. This sounds like a simple question but that all relies upon the purpose of the video. In this blog we’re taking a look at some ‘video tips’ when it comes to filming an interview.

There are two options when you are interviewing/filming someone which we refer to as ‘into camera’ and ‘off camera’. ‘Into camera’ is when you typically have one subject looking directly into the lens of the camera. The subject could be interviewed or they can project their pre-scripted words with this set up. ‘Off camera’ is when a subject has their body twisted about 45 degrees off camera, facing the interviewer. They normally respond when asked a question by the interviewer in this set up. 

Here is an example of a case study where the interviewee’s are looking off camera:

Here is an example of effective piece to camera: 

So why would you want someone to look into a camera?

It may be good to have your subject looking straight into the camera when you are addressing your audience directly. This could be useful for an event video which you can’t be present at, or maybe you want to inform colleagues of a change of protocol on an internal video. We don’t use this option much unless it fits the purpose and really enforces the point of our client’s video. 

When is it good to look off camera?

Typically we film most of our interviews with the interviewee looking off camera as it usually relaxes that person. We use off camera interviews in case studies, testimonials and promotional videos and therefore is the most commonly recognised by audiences. 

We may have someone look into the camera if they have a lot of dialogue that they want to convey e.g. a quarterly update. This would be a perfect opportunity for us to use the auto-cue which helps the person in front of the camera to illustrate their point, rather than stop and start because it’s too much to remember. 

Pieces to camera typically have the subject in the centre of the frame, with a simple background so it doesn’t distract from the message. This gives this section of the video a more clinical look and emphasises the importance of the message. 

Looking off camera will make your subject feel more at ease as they are talking to a person as opposed to an alien object with three legs! It creates more of a conversational approach and could produce more natural answers from your subject. The environment that you set your interview up in all helps to tell the story of the person speaking. You could have a workshop in the background or branding, which all helps: to tell your story, make the subject feel at ease and produce a more unscripted approach. 

Whatever style you go for, you always get people whose eyes look away from the interviewer or the camera, depending where they’ve been told to look. This is usually down to nerves so make sure that you put these people at ease. Many people find the camera quite alien so either can’t stop staring at or will avoid it at all costs. Again, it is a case of reassuring that person where their eye line needs to be and to fix that in order to make the video effective. 

Once you have solidified your idea, you need to pick what style you are going for, are you having your person talking into the camera or off? When you have made your decision you should stick to that throughout your video rather than swapping between the two styles. We would advise not switching between the two methods as this creates a conflicting tone and may confuse the audience as to what the importance of the information is. 

In Conclusion

Ultimately it is your own decision if you want yourself or your colleagues to address the camera or not. You have to bring the focus back to the purpose of the video that you are looking to produce, and ensure you are using a style that will be most effective. We at Stone’s Throw Media can help you choose a style that would suit your video needs best, in order to make your video as effective as possible. 

So get in touch if you think video production can be of use to your organisation! And for more video tips head over to our Knowledge Centre!

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