Pro Moviemaker October 2022 - Newsletter


It’s a kind of magic Magic Video Box’s wizardry makes for winning content with next-level interviews – talking heads have never looked so good M aking interview subjects feel relaxed is a key skill every filmmaker should have. But increasingly, the modern

style of an interviewee looking down the lens is what’s called for. This more intimate and direct approach creates a real feeling of authenticity and openness that can really engage an audience. But when faced with the imposing glare of the camera, it’s difficult to relax. For members of the public, it’s a huge hurdle, and their discomfort in talking to a lens will show. That was the challenge faced by production company Flexible Films, which wanted to get the look popularised by TV shows like Channel 4’s 24 Hours in A&E, and in the BBC’s Children in Need appeal shows. Large TV companies have rigged- up systems to achieve the look, but these take time to build – far from ideal for a nervous interviewee. S0 the Flexible Films team invented a far simpler, faster system and the Magic Video Box was born. Whether using a large broadcast camera or a smaller DSLR or mirrorless, it’s easy to set up and comes complete in a fitted flight case. The kit is available to buy or rent, and the British company also offers training, as well as online instructional videos. Fit the box to your standard tripod – no batteries or any extras are necessary. It’s easy to put together, with a plate that sits between camera and tripod. This accepts included 15mm rods, which a large locator tray baseplate fastens to. The box unit goes right on top. Inside the box unit is a beam- splitter mirror glass at 45°; shoot through it with no quality degradation. The talking head looks directly into the lens, but sees the reflection of the interviewer. This makes it far easier to create rapport and build trust. It was recently used in Police Code Zero - a TV programme that features police officers who have been attacked. Despite being a challenging subject for the officers to discuss, director Rob Lambie said the Magic Video Box helped immensely.

BOXING CLEVER The camera shoots right through the Magic Video Box (above), but interview participants see a reflection of each other (below) – which puts nervous subjects more at ease than just talking to a camera lens

“The interviewee can’t see the lens, so any nervousness from being filmed disappears. The device also helps create a space for the interviewee where they are ‘cut off’ from the crew, which reduces any embarrassment they might feel from recounting their story and experience,” he explained. “Having a full face to look at in the glass gives them a connection with the interviewer. The process is quick, simple and comfortable for the interviewee, which has meant the interviews are emotional and authentic.” If you change the set-up, the Magic Video Box can even be repurposed as a teleprompter using a tablet on the locator tray inside the unit. That’s why it’s been deployed by Sky, ITV and Channel 5 – and why Pro Moviemaker readers voted it the winner in the lens accessory category of 2022’s Gear of the Year Awards.

“The process is quick, simple and comfortable for the interviewee, which has meant the interviews are emotional and authentic”

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