Today, I’m going to teach you about the Interrotron, a secret device used by experienced filmmakers to create up-close, face-to-face interviews. I’m going to go into detail on what the Interrotron is, how it works, and how to build one using beamsplitter glass! In addition, I’m going to show you how to set up an Interrotron and actually use one so you can see for yourself exactly how an interview style teleprompter works.
Have you ever watched a documentary and felt that the person talking was literally looking at you through the screen? That you could feel their emotions, as if they were right in front of you? This is a sign of a seasoned filmmaker and an amazing production. But how do filmmakers create that effect?
When the Interrotron was invented, it was designed to prevent inexperienced talent from being frozen and nervous on camera, eyes squinting, darting all over the place. Or just staring at the director instead of making eye contact with the camera.
An Interrotron allows filmmakers to streamline their interviews, allowing their talent to relax and make eye contact with them, while simultaneously looking straight into a camera.
How is this accomplished? With a special type of beamsplitter glass, which allows a camera to film through it without degrading the video clarity. If you’re making your own Interrotron, I recommend using the 30R/70T Teleprompter Mirror for the best recording quality through the mirror.
The Interrotron is a device used by documentary filmmakers, who want to interview people in a candid way. It is the teleprompter & camera version of a face time call.
Instead of seeing words on the teleprompter screen, a video of another person is shown. The concept behind this was that those who are interviewed can get easily distracted by the production set up, look off camera, appear nervous and unsettled.
Using the Interrotron, the interviewee will see a person who they can talk to. Much like with an in person conversation, this will relax the person talking. This makes even the most untrained people to relax and appear calm on camera.
The cool thing about this is that you can also use it as a teleprompter by putting a tablet or phone within the Interrotron so you can read your script instead of seeing someone’s face.
HOW IT’S SET UP
The set up of the Interrotron isn’t very complex! It’s very simple…IF you know what you’re doing. It’s the basic concept of teleprompter recording, mixed with a monitor and video feeding device. Instead of seeing text on the teleprompter, the interviewee will see the interviewer’s face. This allows for perfect eye contact for the interview.
WHO IS IT FOR
The Interrotron is for filmmakers who want to create documentaries or record interviews for various news channels or their own personal channel. No matter if a filmmaker is novice or advanced, the Interrotron is for everyone. Anytime you are doing an interview style video in person or via teleconference, it allows the recording process to feel much more natural. It has a relatively easy set up, and it is possible that a filmmaker can even create their own, but we’ll get into that later in the video!
HISTORY OF THE INTERROTRON
The Interrotron was created by filmmaker Errol Morris. Morris was known for wanting to create an intimate environment during interviews, so his interviewees would feel as comfortable as possible. He found that even if he did this, those he was interviewing would still become uncomfortable, especially if it was every day, average people. His subjects would get distracted by the film crew and would lose eye contact.
He decided something needed to change, so he created the Interrotron. The Interrotron came from the words interview and terror, as his device removed terror from his interviews. He never patented this device so people are free to make their own! Over time, many companies started using this device. 60 minutes is known for using the Interrotron for many of their serious interviews.
DOES IT ACTUALLY WORK
Now, everything we have talked about has been great, but will it provide results? The exciting answer is Yes! The creator of the device, Errol Morris, used it for many of his documentaries. His documentary, Fog of War, used the Interrotron and helped him win an academy award! People loved the authentic feel of the interviews throughout the film. If you want to create award winning documentaries, the Interrotron will be your new best friend.
One of the great things about an interview style video is that you can simply ask questions instead of spending hours on a script. The talent can simply speak from experience. Here is what the Interretron looks like in action!
CAN YOU MAKE A DIY VERSION?
We get many calls asking: how can I make my own Interrotron? It’s actually quite simple…IF you know how! I’ll leave you all the details below. Quite simply, it’s created by combining a beamsplitter mirror and blacking off the camera side with binder clips and a black cloth or poster board.
Students in film school, videographers transitioning to documentary work and really anyone looking to up their film making game -reach out to us with the question: Can I make my own Interrotron?
The answer is: it depends! If you have accessible film making equipment around you, it is possible to make your own! Things you will need include: a teleprompter mirror with a camera setup, a monitor and a video feeding device. You will connect the two together. If you or your school have these supplies readily available, you should be able to make it work!
PURCHASING BEAMSPLITTER GLASS
If you need to buy a teleprompter mirror, you can head to our website telepromptermirror.com.
The advantage to using a high quality beamsplitter mirror, as opposed to two way mirror or film, is that you can record through it with flawless picture clarity.
We supply the best teleprompter mirrors in the business, with quick turnaround times and custom creations, focused on providing our customers with exactly what they need.
If you are on an absolute bare minimum budget, and have some time on your hands to work on the kinks- you can replace the video feeding device and monitor by having two ipads facetime each other. These have to be adjusted to make sure the client can see your face close enough, but it has been shown to work by various filmmakers on YouTube!
WHERE CAN YOU BUY THIS
If you want the completed Interrotron, ready to go, you can purchase this online! There are a few different off brand versions as well, that create the same effect. It is much more expensive to buy a completed version, but it may save you the precious time your production needs!
And that’s an in depth look at the Interrotron. Using this device, you can create a candid atmosphere for interviews. You can increase the quality of your work, while showing your level of skill and knowledge on the subject of interviewing people.