The Interrotron vs the EyeDirect
Interrotron Rental | EyeDirect Rental
An old and true proverb asserts that necessity is the mother of invention. A need or problem presents itself and emboldens imaginative efforts to resolve the problem or meet the need.
Updates to the Interrotron Mark III – Bill Milling
…Then Bill Milling, a director who has done 20 features and many documentaries himself, entered the picture. His company, American Movie Company and its subsidiary, TeleprompterRental.com rent the Interrotron, which includes a trained person to ensure proper setup.
“I read an article by Errol Morris about what he had done and thought any documentary filmmaker would want this,” Milling recalled. “If the director is looking right at his talent, why would he want to work any other way? They’d get the interview on the first take. It would save hours of time. I thought ‘God if I had this when I was a documentary filmmaker.’ ”
Further elaboration from an interview with Morris in 2004. He explains:
We are used to, on television, seeing people interviewed 60 Minutes-style. There is Mike Wallace or Larry King, and the camera is off to the side. Hence, we, the audience, are also off to the side. We’re the fly-on-the-wall, so to speak, watching two people talking. But we’ve lost (direct eye contact)…We all know when someone makes eye contact with us. It is a moment of drama. Perhaps it’s a serial killer telling us that he’s about to kill us; or a loved one acknowledging a moment of affection. Regardless, it’s a moment with dramatic value. We know when people make eye contact with us, look away and then make eye contact again. It’s an essential part of communication. And yet, it is lost in standard interviews on film.
The Mark III, with a trained operator, rents in the New York City and Los Angeles metropolitan areas, but can travel to other locations for an additional charge. The New York rate is $845 a day, while the Los Angeles rate is also $695 a day.
A Mark IV unit, now in prototype, rents for $100 extra a day in New York City only. It adds speaker audio to the front of prompter so the voice of the director comes directly toward the talent from its source. The unit currently uses a push to talk microphone by the director as the research continues on how to focus the audio without getting feedback.
“This is a combination of our top-of-the-line Interrotron with the addition of a live stream studio. It is basically an Interrotron at a distance. It has four cameras and can do a face-to-face interviews with two people at once,” Milling said.
Errol Morris using the Interrotron.
“The director stands the whole time, instead of being comfortably seated. Also, the director has no idea what the camera is seeing because he is completely removed from the camera. He is only involved with the talent.”
Though American Movie Company has built and sold a couple of Interrotrons, it discourages clients from buying the devices. “We are not in the sales business,” said Milling. “We like to send out a trained operator to set the thing up. When we sent out regular units without an operator, they always came back broken. It’s not worth it to go through that. That’s why we made the smaller unit. These are complex devices and need trained operators. Rental works best for everyone involved.”
Incidentally, Morris was asked if Robert McNamara, a man who had been interviewed a thousand times, liked using the Interrotron. “He walked into the studio and asked, ‘What is that?’ I smiled and said, ‘The Interrotron,’ Morris said. “He responded, ‘Well, whatever it is, I don’t like it.’ Then he sat down, and we proceeded to record over twenty hours of interviews. I guess he came to like it, too.”
What is an EyeDirect?
The EyeDirect Mark II is the professional toy that absolutely guarantees direct eye contact between subject and director. It can be configured to handle DSLRs and accommodates larger cameras with huge zooms. iPads can be attached and convert the Mark II to an AutoCue/Teleprompter. The interviewer can be on either side of the camera.
Folding Mark E (FMKE)
This particular device was constructed as a much lighter, smaller solution to absolutely guarantee eye contact. It actually folds to the size of a laptop.
The EyePrompter – Teleprompter/AutoCue
This device is, in essence, a teleprompter that folds and is used for tablets and phones. The EyePrompter affords the director/producer a much wider field of view in small setup spaces. It uses a high-quality beamsplitter and folds to the size of a laptop.
As you can see, there are choices!