Telling stories that have a powerful connection.
The EyeDirect adds a new dimension to talking head interviews in documentary storytelling.
Most documentary filmmakers begrudgingly consider the "Talking Head" to be a necessary evil; it's that one seemingly unavoidable component of non-fiction storytelling, whether it be for documentaries, more contemporary forms of advertising and branded content, and especially in corporate video. Even when I look back on one of my better-known documentary projects [check it out here], the first thing I want to do now is go back into the edit and cover up more of the talking heads with additional b-roll.
That said, there's still a way to make the Talking Head add value and emotion to your project as opposed to being something to hide. Enter documentarian legend Errol Morris, who famously created the Interrotron. The Interrotron is a device that uses a two-way mirror system to enable the subject and the interviewer to maintain eye contact throughout on-camera interview, while the subject simultaneously looks directly into the camera lens.The approach works so well because it creates a powerful, direct visual connection between the subject and the audience without breaking the intimacy created during the actual conversation between interviewer and interviewee.
This simple-yet-brilliant piece of rigging and engineering has become Morris's trademark and signature style for years. For example, in this Morris documentary it can feel as though the notorious Robert McNamara is confessing his sins to you, the viewer. The technique has grown in popularity over the years across multiple formats - we even see it in the Kardashians now - thus various knock-off versions of the Interrotron have emerged. For some of our projects, we like to use a Morris-inspired device called the EyeDirect. It is not as advanced as the original Interrotron (which surely has had several iterations of its own by now) but the EyeDirect achieves the same results at a reasonable price and with a relatively easy setup.
We are now 2+ years into production on a documentary project about the founding fathers of the video game industry, and no matter how far we travel for each shoot, we don't leave home without it.