3. Setting the line

Martin Johnson - Friday, December 30, 2016

3. Setting the 'line of interest'

Generally the camera is placed so that it looks over the shoulder of the interviewer, looking at the interviewee. This means the eye-line of the interviewee is just to the side of the camera as they look at the interviewer. You shouldn't see the interviewer in this frame.

Once you've decided which side of the interviewer to put the camera (assuming the interviewee and interviewer are facing each other) you need to make sure that any other shots of the interview are taken on the same side. 

Imagine a line between the two of them. This is sometimes called 'the line of interest'. It's important that you don't cross that line by moving the camera to the other side. (See diagram below). Any 'noddies', 2 shots, etc must be taken from the same side of the line as the initial shot. 

When you're filming two people, this is pretty straight forward. When you have a group of people who are all interacting, it can become quite confusing and so you do need to consciously workout where the line is. 

Observing this convention will mean that no matter what sort of a shot you use, reversal of the interviewer, two-shot over the shoulder of one person looking at the other or a side-on two shot, the audience will know exactly where they are. 

Whilst some audiences may not know you've 'crossed the line' (if you do by mistake) they generally are aware that somehow the two people are not relating to each other as they thought. This is unnecessarily confusing, so it's good to make sure you get it right.

These conventions apply right across film making. Even if you're filming a giant sporting event, such as football, you still need to stay on the same side of the line. (In this case, it generally runs between the two goals.) If the angle suddenly cuts to a shot from the wrong side of the line, the team are suddenly running in the wrong direction - which is confusing).


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