There’s a rule in filmmaking that an actor should never look directly into the camera. It’s called the eyeline match, but it’s a guideline more than a hard and fast rule.
There are times when an actor should look at someone or something other than the camera, and there are times when breaking this rule will make your film better.
The risk with breaking the eyeline match is that it can be distracting for the viewer.
If you’re making a film about two people having a conversation, then it would be appropriate for them to be looking at each other but not at the camera.
If you’re making a movie about someone who delivers pizzas, then it would make sense if they’re always looking at the camera instead of where they’re going while they ride their bike through traffic.
There are also times when it just won’t work. An extreme close-up of an actor means they have to be looking directly into the camera, or else their face won’t fit in the frame.
And if you’re keeping track of multiple characters in different places, keeping track of them all by their eyelines gets confusing very quickly.
An eyeline match, therefore, is a shot where two characters make eye contact.
Let’s take a look!
What Is an eyeline match?
Eyeline matches have been used in movies for a long time. The technique is pretty simple, but it can be hard to get right without practice.
Eyeline matches are used in filmmaking when the point of view of one or more characters is to be matched with the point of view of another character.
An eyeline match is a shot that will show an actor’s eyes looking directly at another actor as a cut occurs.
What Are Eyelines In Film?
Before we move on to eyeline matches, it’s important to understand what eyelines are themselves.
Eyelines are the focal points in a scene, usually the place where the audience should be looking. The eyeline of a character is where the camera is looking at them when they are speaking or a shot is focused on them.
The eyeline is often used to direct the audience’s attention to another actor or object. It can sometimes be difficult to notice an eyeline because it doesn’t always have to be looking directly into the camera.
Eyelines can also help you understand where a shot is being filmed. If the director has chosen an angle that gives depth and perspective to a shot, it might be because that eyeline is important in understanding what the scene is about.
We can see an obvious example of this in horror films, where the main character will inevitably look down as they go past a dark alleyway and see something horrific. If you then see other characters also looking down that alleyway, you know something is coming.
Eyelines are also used in online video content, like YouTube videos and social media videos. For example, if you were to film yourself talking about how to grow tomatoes, you might choose to use an eyeline that looks directly into your camera lens.
This would allow your audience to focus on your face and avoid background distractions as you address them.
What Is An Eyeline Match?
A significant part of filmmaking involves matching shots. Whether you are doing a simple pan and scan edit or a complex visual effects scene, matching shots will involve some form of eye-line match.
For example, you could have a shot of a character looking to the left and then cut to another shot of another character looking to the left. The eye-line match will be obvious to the viewer, even though you are seeing different characters in each shot.
We often use this technique in film when editing multiple takes together for a single scene. Suppose you have two actors talking about something and your director didn’t get it quite right in one take.
The director might feel that the actor’s eyeline doesn’t work, asking for another take from the actors so that they look at each other instead of away. An eyeline match would help convey that sense of connection between the two characters.
It gets its name from the fact that both of their eyes line up within the frame. The eyeline match can be challenging to create and even more difficult to get right.
For an eyeline match to work, it’s generally necessary for the actors to have similar heights. If they stand too far apart, the shot will look awkward and feel unnatural.
One of the actors’ heads will seem too big or too small in relation to the other actor’s head. An eyeline match can work between actors of different heights if the camera is low enough to the ground, but this is often very difficult and usually not worth it unless you have a lot of time and money at your disposal.
The best way to create an eyeline match is simply to shoot the scene with both actors side-by-side. Then, you can cut from one angle (where both characters are visible) to another angle where only one actor appears on screen (the other actor is off-screen but still in view of the camera).
The two shots work together because you’ll use editing techniques like cutting on action and sound effects to create a feeling of continuity between them.
Eyeline Match Techniques & Benefits In Filmmaking
The eyeline match is a technique used in filmmaking to ensure continuity between shots. Eyeline match is when two or more actors are filmed at one time, but the camera never cuts to a different angle.
The director will direct the actors to look at each other, and the camera will be placed in a position where there is an eyeline match between the two actors. If a cut is made, the editor simply lines up the shot with a shot of another actor who is looking directly at the actor who was initially being looked at.
For example, if we are looking at Actor A and Actor B looks directly at Actor A, then there is an eyeline match. When filming begins and it cuts to another angle of Actor B, we can line up that part of the shot with footage of Actor A looking back at Actor B.*
Eyeline match is used for several reasons:
- It helps with continuity because you can see what both actors are looking at throughout all parts of the scene.
- It allows for a seamless transition from one person’s thinking process to another person’s thinking process (i.e. two people talking about a solution while they’re in two different rooms).
- It makes scenes feel more realistic because we always look from a grounded/in-person perspective.
Cut In Film Editing
In film editing, eyeline match refers to the use of a cut to emphasize similarities in the behavior or emotion of two characters that are not seen together on screen. In other words, when two actors talk to each other, but don’t show up at the same time on screen.
The term can also refer to cuts between people and objects, an editing technique used to transition from one scene to the next. There are several ways you can use eyeline matches in film editing. One common technique is called an eyeline match cut (or m-cut). An eyeline match cut is when one shot ends with the main character looking at something or someone offscreen and the next shot begins with that thing or person now on-screen.
In other words, the eyeline of the subject in each scene is matched before the cut to transition from one shot to another.
The main purpose of the eyeline match is to maintain continuity between scenes by keeping the viewer focused on the central character or idea. For this type of editing technique to be effective, it must be executed properly.
Here are some tips for different situations when using an eyeline match cut:
- When Transitioning Between Two Shot types in some cases, you may want to transition from a wide shot to a medium shot or vice versa. In these instances, use an eyeline match transition so that the viewer can more easily follow what is happening in the scene.
This technique helps guide people through your movie and also helps them focus on what you want them to see. When Matching Eyelines Between Two CharactersIt’s important that you always match the eyelines of characters who are speaking with one another.
This helps audiences follow conversations and understand who is saying what and why. If you aren’t careful with your eyeline matches, it can confuse viewers and break their concentration on what they’re watching.
- Eyeline match cuts are used throughout movies for comedic effect, to create suspense and drama, and even to create a story arc for the main character.
Let’s look at an example of a match cut from the movie Toy Story: In this example, the line spoken by Woody (Tom Hanks) matches up with Buzz’s (Tim Allen) action lines, as he says them. This helps show how serious Woody is, creating dramatic suspense.
Eyeline Match Examples In Filmmaking
Eyeline match is a staple in film and video. It’s a simple technique that can add clarity, depth, and power to a scene.
It’s also used extensively in music videos and television shows such as American Idol or Dancing with the Stars.
The two subjects are looking at each other. There are two different ways of doing an eyeline match.
One way is for the camera to stay focused on both subjects as it moves between them, which is called a soft eyeline match. The other way is to focus on one character and then move to the next character that has their eyes looking directly into the camera, which is called a hard eyeline match.
A soft eyeline match typically happens during an interview. As the interviewer asks a question, she turns to look at each character being interviewed so that they appear on screen looking back at her as she asks them questions or speaks directly to them.
This keeps the focus on one subject while also keeping the other subjects present in the scene as well. While it may not be obvious to some viewers, the eyeline match is a technique used to show the audience what a character is looking at.
It’s a common filmmaking technique that you see in almost every movie. Eyeline matches can be done in a variety of ways, but the basic idea is to have the camera shooting from one angle and have another angle filming the character you want to show what they are looking at.
The two angles are then edited together so that as the camera moves around in one shot, it looks like it’s staying still while the other character is moving around. Here’s a video that explains more: Eyeline match is an extremely important concept to know when making movies because it helps make your audience feel like they are right there with the characters.
It can help draw them into the world of your movie, and make them forget that they are just watching something on a screen.
Why Eyeline Match Is Important In Filmmaking
The eyeline match allows directors to tell their stories visually and engage audiences with different characters and locations. Without it, films would often feel cold and uninviting. Eyeline match is a technique used in filmmaking to ensure that the audience’s attention always remains focused on the most important person in any shot.
The eyeline match is made by keeping the character’s eyes visible at all times in the shot. This can be accomplished by angling the camera so that just his or her eyes are seen, or by using a close-up of their face and using a bit of editing so that the character is looking at another character (usually the protagonist).
Eyeline matching also refers to keeping a character’s gaze centered on another character as they shift position throughout the scene (usually as they talk to each other). For example, if two people are talking and one shifts their head to face their partner, then the other should shift their head so that both people are looking at each other again.
For example, in this scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, both Indy (Harrison Ford) and his love interest Marion (Karen Allen) are looking at each other: Although you might not realize it, even cartoons use eyeline match.
Another example: in The Simpsons episode “Homer Badman”, Homer is watching TV when Bart and Lisa burst into his room: It’s hard to imagine how otherwise well-crafted films would be without this basic filmmaking technique.
How To Build An Eyeline Match Cut In Film Editing
Eyeline match is a technique you can use in film editing to connect two different shots together seamlessly. It’s particularly effective for making edits between characters of different heights, or if you want your audience to follow an object from one shot to the next.
Truly seamless eyeline match cuts are difficult to pull off with any degree of regularity. This is because it’s hard to get the two shots lined up exactly, especially when you’re cutting between two shots taken from very different camera positions.
However, precision isn’t always necessary. The best eyeline match cuts are often slightly out of place, which can help draw the viewer’s attention to something more important on-screen.
In the examples below, notice how the eyeline match cuts aren’t perfect, but they still draw your attention to what matters most. Eyeline match cuts are a staple of film editing.
They’re used to help make the story clearer, and they can be used to create a stronger emotional connection between two characters. An eyeline match cut is when you cut back and forth between two different places on screen, but keep the eyeline of each character the same.
It’s one of the most basic ways to create a visual storytelling device–and it’s also one of the most effective. Eyeline match cuts are simple to create.
Here’s how: Find two shots that you want to use that have similar framing. In this video, I’m using a wide shot of an apartment and a close-up shot of a computer screen.
I’m going to use these shots for an eyeline match cut so that it looks like someone is sitting at their computer and then walking into their living room.**These shots were taken from my short film “Fading Memories”.
Check it out!
Eyeline Match Examples In Cinema History
Eyeline matches are a very common film technique. They can be used to show the relationship between characters or to set up a joke.
There are endless variations of this type of match cut, and they are all very effective in different ways. Here are a few examples from movies you may have seen, with a brief description of each one.
- The Graduate (1967)–This frame immediately cuts to the same frame from another character’s point of view. It is not seen through Ben’s eyes because it would have been impossible for us to see Mrs. Robinson in this shot. The two characters now share a moment together, and we know that Elaine feels the same way about him as he does about her.
- Blue Velvet (1986)–In this famous shot, the audience is positioned outside Frank Booth’s house as he carries Jeffrey into his house. As Frank enters the door, we see Jeffrey looking back out at us, symbolising his manipulation by Frank.
At first, we believe that Frank has hurt him, but then when Frank closes the door, we realise how much power Frank has over Jeffrey.
What Does An Eyeline Match Do In Filmmaking
What does an eyeline match do in filmmaking? The term eyeline match refers to the act of matching a character’s eye level with the eye level of someone or something else. In film, this is often accomplished by matching the camera angle, but it can also be done by matching the actor’s position on-screen with another character or object.
This is sometimes referred to as “checking your eyelines.” Eyeline matches are important in filmmaking because they create a sense of continuity and realism.
If you don’t do this correctly, it can create a jarring effect and make your audience feel disoriented. When you’re shooting a scene, the most important thing is to keep the actors within their imaginary space.
It’s easy to get distracted and move out of place; doing so will ruin the continuity of your film. When you’re looking through the viewfinder and shooting a scene, you want to make sure that every shot has an eyeline match.
How do you accomplish this? Most experienced filmmakers will use off-screen cues to help them remember where to look for an on-screen match later on. For example, if an actor needs to make eye contact with someone standing behind him or her, then you’ll need to pivot your foot in that direction when shooting an eyeline match (also referred to as a match cut or visual match), which is a type of film editing that helps guide the viewer’s attention from one shot to another. It is most often used in films and videos when two characters are facing each other, but it can also be used in landscapes or other types of shots. Eyeline matches can either be direct or indirect.
In a direct eyeline match, the camera cuts from one shot to another with the same character in the same position looking in the same direction. This helps viewers connect two separate shots into one continuous scene.
An indirect eyeline match occurs when one character looks around at another character and then the camera cuts to a different shot where we see the other character. This technique draws attention to a different character while still establishing continuity between the two scenes.
Eyeline matches can also include multiple people looking at each other. This helps keep viewers oriented within the scene and makes it easier for them to follow what’s happening on screen.
When an eyeline match is poorly executed, it can be distracting to both viewers and editors alike. An overused eyeline match can create unrealistic continuity by giving off the impression that characters know where each other is without having any way of seeing each other.