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Composing a 2-camera interview with two subjects

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Matt Tarpley
Composing a 2-camera interview with two subjects
on Aug 1, 2018 at 6:18:24 pm

I was doing documentary work over the weekend, and ran into a bit of a debate with another shooter. We had a 2 -camera setup and were interviewing a couple (where each of their heads was roughly on the left and right upper third f the screen). The wide shot was of both folks, and I was operating the 2nd camera for closeups and recomposed and reframed when each interviewee would answer our interviewer. Since both subjects were looking to the left while answering our interviewer, I framed both of them on the right third, so that there would be enough lead room. In the middle of the shoot, the other shooter suggested that I put the subject on the same third that they are on in the master shot. I disagreed, and said that I believe that "rule" to be effective when the subjects are talking to eachother or delivering a scene of dialogue. But in this case, my argument was that the closeup for each subject should be framed with the most lead room on the frame, since they are looking off camera. Obviously the rules are made to be broken, but can anyone suggest a best practice for these unique, 2-camera, 2-subject interviews?
Thanks!


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Mark Suszko
Re: Composing a 2-camera interview with two subjects
on Aug 3, 2018 at 9:58:41 pm

You can make a lot of shots work better as long as the eyelines are right... I mean "eyeline" in both the sense of the direction the eyes are aiming at, AND an imaginary line across the screen that the eyes rest upon, regardless of the framing.

The viewer subconsciously keys on eyes and mouths and their relative positions on the screen. Any discontinuity or change in those relationships jars the awareness - we call those "jump cuts" and they can be used to deliberate effect or minimized to improve the visual flow.

Specifically to your question, then, (and I wish you could post stills to illustrate the point better), I ask, does the 2-shot of the couple still preserve the line of sight and overall spatial relationship, when the 2- shot switches in and out of singles? This is what I would strive for, that in the live switch or the edit, the viewer's subconscious never has to figure out if the seating arrangement has changed or the look-space has been steered to a new target.

And does it violate the line of action rule? If so, is it justified for some creative or dramatic reason? Or just to monkey wit the viewer's spacial perception?


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Matt Tarpley
Re: Composing a 2-camera interview with two subjects
on Oct 10, 2018 at 11:58:02 pm

Hi Mark, I appreciate your feedback and I think we're in good shape either way, as the eyelines work in both cases. Sorry that I'm replying months after my original post, we've been busy and I forgot to check back. Anyway, here are screen grabs of the two shots. My point was that the one-shot where the man is on the left third, doesn't give enough lead space and it felt weird to me, so my preference was to keep him on the right third in the one-shot. Thanks again!
https://f1.creativecow.net/12783/2shot-1shot?uploaded=file


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Steve Weng
Re: Composing a 2-camera interview with two subjects
on Nov 21, 2018 at 5:57:33 pm

have you thought about shooting 4k? with 4k footage you might be able to zoom into each person in post by cropping, what do you think?

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