Unlocking Interrotron: Elevate Your Documentary Game

The eyes are the windows to the soul.

They blink and stare and flicker, communicating on another level to the words that come from our mouths. When creating a documentary film, capturing the actions and reactions of these expressive portals can be a challenging task. And here is where the Interrotron is a real game-changer.

interrotron interviews
Interrotron interviews

The common structure of a documentary interview is the subject interacting with an interviewer to the side of the camera, resulting in a detachment between subject and viewer. The subject speaks to the director and the viewer listens on the sidelines.

In the 2003, Oscar-winning documentary film ‘Fog of War’, director by Errol Morris eliminates this third wall with the use of a two-way optical devise coined the Interrotron – a word blended from ‘terror’ and ‘interview’. Its use enables direct eye-contact between subject and camera lens, resulting in an intensely personal re-telling of times past.

This compelling story-telling is not only achieved by the direct eye-contact, but also by the interaction between the subject and the camera itself – because the subject is speaking to a screen displaying the interviewee in front of the lens, some of the more daunting aspects of being filmed are removed. The subject can relax and provide more natural responses.

How it Works

interrotron - how it works
How Interrotron works

While dedicated machines are available, the simplest way to achieve this effect technically is to follow Morris’ example, employing autocue monitors and cameras.

In this setup, the interviewer (red) and the subject (blue) both view autocue units. A camera captures the subject and outputs to the monitor in front of the interviewer, while B camera films the interviewer and feeds the autocue unit on A camera.

Fog of War

In ‘Fog of War,’ former US Secretary of State Robert S. Namara captivates audiences with his compelling narrative about lessons learned in the Vietnam War.

The direct ‘eye-contact’ facilitated by the Interrotron conveys authority and evokes strong emotions on a topic entangled with the complexities of war strategy and human nature. This underscores the effectiveness of the Interrotron technique in elevating traditional interviews into powerful storytelling experiences.

FAQ: Why Should I Use the Interrotron?

The Interrotron can be an vital tool to take your documentary game to the next level by transforming run-of-the-mill interviews into something more penetrative and insightful.

Remember, the Interrotron can:

1.  Help your documenray interview go more smoothly
2.  Help the interviewee be more relaxed and more comfortable talking
3.  Enable direct eye-contact between the subject and the camera lens
4.  Often, this solicits more natural responses and, so, more revealing interviews are captured and richer stories told

The Interrotron can truly make for more compelling storytelling and documentaries.

Not sure how to incorporate the Interrotron into your documentary production? Then hire experienced production experts like Broadley Studio to make sure your interviews really do tell the story you want them to...

Broadley Studio - THE Production Experts

At Broadley Studio, we have over 25 years of experience helping productions like yours; which includes using the Interrotron to elevate interviews from ther mundane to the extraordinary.

To get a flavour of what we can do for you, check out our latest showcase, case studies and studio specs. Or take a virtual tour of our studios.

To discover how the Interrotron setup can enhance your next documentary film, please call us on +442077255858 or email us at [email protected].

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