Archive for October 8, 2020

Eyelines

Posted in FILM with tags , on October 8, 2020 by dcairns

I don’t know whether Mike Pence has conjunctivitis — a possible Covid-19 symptom — I don’t know whether he’s bleeding out of his eyes, out of his wherever — but I wish C-Span would get its eyelines sorted out.

The above shot clearly establishes the layout of the debate.

But in the Warholian splitscreen shot we see most of the time — a format, incidentally, that makes it easier for any speaker who wants to interrupt to do so and grab the viewer’s attention — the positioning of the cameras means that Kamala Harris looks off screen left when addressing the moderator. This is surprising and confusing to the viewer who naturally expects her to look slightly to camera right.

So this tends to weaken Harris because her closeup is puzzling and Pence’s makes more visual sense. It’s quite possible that things turned out this way because, for social distancing reasons, no camera could be positioned more logically. Still, a thing like this couldn’t happen twice, could it?

Well, actually it did, and on the previous occasion it was the Democratic side who were disadvantaged also. I don’t think this is deliberate sabotage, and as I say, it’s probably caused by some practical consideration, but still, I wish the Dems would insist on equal QUALITY coverage as well as equal airtime (which they don’t get anyway since Trump turns every appearance into a campaign speech, something that was particularly egregious when he was supposed to be informing the American people about the Coronavirus and instead just talked about what a great job he was doing).

I may use this piece to help my students understand eyelines, though, so it serves some small positive purpose.