In video interviews as in real life, eye contact is essential for fostering a sense of connection and trust. While person-to-person eye contact is fairly easy for most people, maintaining eye contact with the audience in video interviews can be challenging. Enter the EyeDirect—a revolutionary tool designed to simplify eye contact and elevate the impact of video interviews. In this blog post, we will explore what the EyeDirect is, how it facilitates effortless eye contact with interview subjects, and why eye contact is such a potent way to captivate your audience.
What is the EyeDirect?
The EyeDirect is an innovative device specifically created for eye contact in video interviews. Placed in in front of the camera lens, it’s basically a box with 2 parallel panes of glass: a regular mirror and a beam splitter mirror. This configuration—similar to a periscope—allows the subject to see a reflection of the interviewer’s face while looking directly into the lens, resulting in video of footage that makes a powerful and authentic connection with the audience. The EyeDirect has been utilized in documentaries and TV programs around the world, such as numerous installments of ESPN’s 30 for 30, Netflix’s infamous Fyre Festival documentary, PBS’s America in Primetime, Oprah’s Belief, and countless other documentaries and commercials. It’s fair to assume that anything you’ve seen on TV in the past 20 years where someone being interviewed is looking directly at the camera (i.e., unscripted delivery), it was probably done with the EyeDirect.
Simplifying Eye Contact
Normally, maintaining eye contact in video interviews is challenging. Humans are wired to prefer talking to another person and look them in the eye. Producers sometimes ask interviewees to look at the camera when answering questions, but this tends to cause them to lose their focus on the conversation and break the sense of engagement with the audience. And pretty much everyone who isn’t an actor or reporter finds it intimidating to engage with the cold, unblinking eye of a camera’s lens. One alternative to looking right at the camera is having subjects look at the interviewer sitting next to the camera, which means the subject never makes eye contact with the audience. It’s a common, albeit flawed, setup for most interviews—unless the interviewer is a part of the video and edited to appear on-camera with the interviewee (as seen on 60 Minutes features or Barbara Walters specials), the audience is left to wonder, “Who are they talking to?” For most corporate videos, though, the interviewer is never seen or heard.
The EyeDirect revolutionizes this process. By placing a beam splitter mirror in front of the camera, the subject sees the reflection of the person they’re speaking to, and the camera sees the subject looking directly into the lens. As a world-famous actor said in the outtakes of an interview that utilized EyeDirect, “This is Tom Hanks looking right down the barrel of the lens.” (See the video below.) This unique and patented setup allows interviewees to naturally maintain eye contact with the interviewer while also making direct eye contact with the audience. (FYI, in the video below in which the stars are commenting on how cool the EyeDirect is, they’re clapping to help the editor sync the multiple camera with the audio–it’s a common trick in the video business.)
A wonderful example of Pixl putting the EyeDirect to use was in videos we produced for To Be Like Me, an organization that provides disability awareness education led by people living with disabilities. In one video, two interviewees with Down’s Syndrome were able to look directly at the lens while talking to our producer who was interviewing them. Having the producer’s face reflected right in front of the lens meant the interviewees rarely looked away from the camera. They naturally glanced away briefly at times, but their gaze would always come right back to the lens. (See other examples in our Portfolio.)
Benefits of Eye Contact in Video Interviews
Eye contact is a fundamental aspect of human interaction, conveying trust, sincerity, and engagement. Leveraging eye contact in video interviews enhances the impact on the audience in several ways:
- Building Trust and Connection: Eye contact is a powerful non-verbal cue that helps build trust and connection between individuals. Research suggests that eye contact actually enhances perceived trustworthiness and sincerity in communication. When interviewees maintain eye contact in video interviews, they establish a sense of authenticity and connection with the audience, leading to increased engagement much more so than if they were looking off-camera at some unseen interviewer.
- Non-Verbal Communication and Emotion: Eyes play a significant role in conveying emotions and non-verbal cues. A 1986 study by C.L. Kleinke showed that eye contact helps convey empathy, attentiveness, and understanding. The subtle nuances and non-verbal cues communicated through eye contact enrich video interviews and make them more compelling, impactful, and relatable.
- Audience Engagement and Attention: Eye contact in video marketing captivates the viewer’s attention and creates a sense of involvement (“That person is speaking to ME.”. And in this era of short attention spans, capturing and retaining viewer attention is crucial. Eye contact acts as a powerful hook, captivating the audience and reducing distractions that might arise from a lack of engagement. Research indicates that eye contact even enhances viewer engagement and recall of information.
- Establishing Credibility: Eye contact is often associated with credibility and competence. Maintaining eye contact enhances the perceived expertise and credibility of people being interviewed for jobs. Similarly, this perception of credibility can positively influence the audience’s response to the interview and the content being conveyed—a big plus when comes to marketing your business.
The EyeDirect is a game-changer in the world of video interviews. By facilitating effortless eye contact, its use gives your videos greater impact and authenticity while cultivating a deeper connection with the audience. Eye contact establishes trust, engages viewers, conveys emotions, and retains attention—all vital components for creating impactful video content. When a production team uses an EyeDirect, interviewees are able to confidently tell their stories directly to the audience, providing a more personal connection in the video.
Take advantage of the power of eye contact in video interviews by booking your next interview shoot with Pixl and our very own EyeDirect.