Did you know you can control the mood, and direct the attention of your viewers with the way you focus your video camera lens? This is an optional production technique you could experiment with during your pre-production process (before you shoot your video presentation).
How to Focus your Viewer’s Attention
For example, a “sharp focus” is where everything within the camera frame is in clear focus. This is the typical way for a presenter or product to be filmed.
However, a “soft focus” or the “beauty lens/filter” (It puts a hazy/dreamy effect over everything) is sometimes used for tender moments or memories.
- It can also minimize an actor’s wrinkles and skin texture so that they appear soft, flawless, and dewy in their close-up
- Visually it does not represent the truth of reality
- Another example would be models over the age of 12 appearing in cosmetics or skincare TV advertising
- In storytelling, this technique is used when the actor uses their imagination to recall a dream or memory etc.
The viewer gets subconsciously “pulled in” to the action.
However, when you have people or objects in the camera frame which are different distances from the camera lens, then it gets more complicated. It’s called “depth of field”. You now have to make a choice as to how much of the scene is in focus. This is called “selective focus”, a common technique used in most TV and Film productions. Here the camera is sharply focused on one specific actor (whom the director wants us to focus on) and fuzzy on everyone else in the scene.
Force the Attention
Often the director will alternate the focus, changing from an actor in the foreground to one in the background and vice versa. This quickly forces our attention where the director wants it. If you watch a daytime soap opera, you will see this technique used in a blatantly obvious manner once you know what to look for.
When the camera moves in on a person or object, the viewer gets subconsciously “pulled in” to the action. When the camera moves out, the viewer subconsciously draws back and becomes detached.
This happens subconsciously; we can’t help but follow the actor’s gaze.
Try this On-camera Presenter Technique: Gaze Motion
Another technique to focus the viewers’ attention is what is called “gaze motion”. The viewer will tend to look in the same direction that the people on screen are looking. Again, this happens subconsciously; we can’t help but follow the actor’s gaze.
Advertisers use this technique to get us to focus on objects or areas of the screen that they want us to pay attention to.
For example, a pharmaceutical commercial will probably want us to look up at the brand name and product packaging, not down at the mandatory side-effect warnings that are displayed on the bottom of the screen. To do this they will have the actors looking up, and arrange other visual elements of the scene to make sure we are focused on the brand, not looking down at the side effects!
Think about the different ways could use these production techniques in your video presentations.