Crossing the line: conversation

Ian Hider from the BBC Academy outlines how to shoot a conversation so that eyelines match and your shots cut together.

When you shoot dialogue between two people, it is important to consider the direction they are looking in for your close-ups.

"A shot that is the wrong side of the line is bound to confuse the viewer." – Ian Hider

Imagine a straight line between each subject's eyes. If your close-ups are shot from the same side of that line as your wide shot, they will cut together well, because the subjects will appear to be looking in the same direction in both the wide and close shots.

If you cross the line and shoot a close-up from the opposite side, it will look to the viewer as if the subject has gone from facing right to left to facing left to right, or vice versa.

Close ups will appear strange to the viewer if they are shot from the other side of the line between the two subjects.