For ProsYour Questions Answered

What are Eyelines and Why Should You Care?

By May 11, 20124 Comments

Here is a video that I shot after reading your book. Most woodworking videos are painfully boring, but I and another woodworker are trying to change that.

Can you give me any more tips?


I have to admit it did not take much imagination for me to picture a boring video about woodworking. But Brian’s done a great job of making his pretty cool.  Fun action shots, nicely framed, well edited.  This video is probably fascinating for anyone more likely to pick up a lathe than I am.  Which is pretty much everyone.

But for those who come to this site for video tips, let’s talk “eyelines.”

An eyeline is simply where an actor is looking when you’re shooting. (the famous Christian Bale Rant happened because someone walked through his eyeline– i.e. where he was looking– while he was acting a scene.) We care about eyelines because where an actor looks on screen give us information about his character.

For example in this video, I was wondering if Brian would be hurt by his lathe because he is obviously blind.  Why else would he always be fixedly staring into the distance while talking to us?  Okay, he’s not blind, as his master woodworking proves.  But some of the interview shots it’s hard to be sure because of where he’s looking– his eyeline.

For a more intimate interview look next time, Brian, try seating the interviewer right next to the camera, with her eyes at lens level.  Then when you look at her, you’ll be looking almost right at us.

Check your eyeline by playing back your video.  Make sure you like the message your look sends.

Do you have a question about video? Of course you do! Ask it here.


  • Should people in videos look directly into the camera or away from the camera?

  • adamg says:

    Yes, split screen not needed. I notice the lathe shot once is enough for me.Brian can you show us action of other processes; finding wood,on location,etc? You are an artist-interested in how you connect with this art.The human story.Thank you!

  • Paul says:

    I agree. There's looking off camera and then there's a profile shot that looks like he's looking at something much more interesting than the video. Also, putting the stills off to the side makes it look like he's blissfully wishing he was with trees instead of being in this video. I'd do full-screens instead of supers.

    It's not a bad video. A couple of tweaks could make it great.

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