Eye-lines and the Camera Practical Cinematography
Compass Points of the Eye-lines The Camera is a ‘presence’. It is a kind of ‘stand-in’ for the audience.
• The eye-line is a measure of our feeling of empathy with a character. The more the camera angle, the greater our sense of subjective involvement.• Interactions shot in semi-profile are relatively objective. We, the audience, remain outside and relatively neutral observers.
• With the three-quarter eye-line, close to camera, tension is at its maximum.• It is common practice, as a scene builds in dramatic tension, to use eye-lines closer to the camera.
Complete Side View• As soon as we can see only one eye the shot becomes much more impersonal. Camera feels like an onlooker. We may or may not feel empathy, but we are likely to feel empathy, but we are likely a degree of objectivity, a distance.
Semi Back View• If we can see enough of the curve of the cheek and eye to recognise what expression there might be on the face that is turned away, we may still get some sense of personality. But it is likely to feel like a point of view angle.
Full Back View• Nothing of the face can be seen. Because all expression is left to our imaginations, paradoxically, a back-view can sometimes be used –in certain contexts – to produce a very strong sense of empathy.
Eye-lines and the Camera• In matching what is important is the eyes, not the face.• Notice that when the eye-line is not in the same direction as the face, there is apt to be a suggestion of slyness in the expression.
• An eye-line just below the level of the lens may – in some contexts have a slightly more ‘introspective’ feeling than one over the camera.• Needless to say it is dangerous to theorise about these things.
Eye-lineEye-line is narrowly to left though the faceis turned to the right of camera.
Eye-line is Narrow Left though the face isturned slightly to the Right of camera.
Eye-line is Narrowly Right though face isturned towards the left of camera.
Eye-line is wide right though the face isturned narrowly to the left of camera.
• When the eye-line is well above the level of the lens, the off-screen look will sometimes – in some situations – imply a feeling of awe or admiration, literally of ‘looking up to ’ the off- screen person or situation.
• Conversely, when the eye-line is underneath the lens, a close-up may have a sense of more ‘interior’ and private thought or feeling. It is we ( the camera) who are looking for what is ‘behind the eyes’.