Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Stage Left

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Twilight

There is a commercial currently running for Centurylink’s PrismTV.  In it, the camera switches back and forth between different families talking about how they enjoy the service.   But there is something else going on.

In the first shot, a man and woman couple talk about service benefits. In the second shot, three family members are sitting on a couch behind someone in the foreground who is also praising the service.  But while two of the family members are looking at the speaker, one of them, a young woman, is looking intensely off to her right.  This is clearly not something the producers could have wanted, but somehow, the shot didn’t get re-shot.  So now, instead of the audience listening to the benefits of Centurylink, I can imagine people are sitting at home looking at this woman and thinking, “What is she looking at?”

You don’t want any of your on-camera subjects doing something that is not involving the audience because their distraction will distract the audience from your message.  If their looks or movements are intended to ignore the viewer, people get that.  But if it’s unintentional, the audience will spend the rest of the commercial wondering what are they missing?

That kind of thing, along with jackets that mysteriously button and unbutton between camera angles and glasses that appear and disappear on tabletops is called a continuity problem.  Usually, camera crews have someone whose only job is to make sure those kind of things don’t happen so that the audience isn’t disrupted by jagged flow.  Considering this spot has been running for several months now, Centurylink must’ve decided it doesn’t care that the young woman is staring at something stage left.

But it is distracting.

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Written by Interviewer

January 5, 2016 at 13:48

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