Ethical dilemma: Is it ‘wrong’ to flip a person’s direction in post production?

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    • #52287

      I was having a lively debate with my colleague earlier about whether or not it's 'ethical' to flip a person (mirror image) in post producion.  We produce talking-heads style programs, usually containing about 6 interviews. Ideally, we'd have a balanced number of people facing left-right as right-left. However, there are two reasons why this doesn't always happen. Firstly, 1-3 people usually dominate due to the strength of their responses and sometimes they're all looking left-right or vice versa. Secondly, we are more often trying to fit a large number of interviews into one day. To change screen direction takes time that we often don't have.


      I believe that it is perfectly fine to flip the direction of some of the people so that we end up with a balance of each screen direction.  My colleague believes that by flipping someone, you are changing ("distorting") their face drastically and that it's morally wrong to do so. I personally don't think there's any ethical dilemma with it at all and think it "distorts' their face about as much as a mirror does. 



    • #205162

      I don't see a problem with it.  Why not modify your forms/releases to allow for this to accomodate your post-production editing.  It's not like you are altering what they say or their facial expressions to mis-convey a different message.


      It's kind of like the 180 rule, isn't it?  And, if the discussion is suppose to appear to be a "us on the left" versus "them on the right" kind of event, you may have to reinforce that to the viewer so that it visually makes sense in our brain.  The way to prevent any argument about this is to record them looking straight at the camera as though there is no "opponent" present and if they are indeed at the same table, this would be very un-natural for the participants.

    • #205169

      interesting question. I just had to reverse a still shot so the way the subject was facing worked with the screen layout.


      I find it disturbing if two headshots facing the same way are butted together, but if there is some narration or b-roll, or something to break up the transition then it's not as big a problem.  I would prefer that route if possible. People do look different and may not be as recognizable when mirrored, heck just changing the side on which one parts their hair can have an effect.


      I guess since I have done it with a still I don't have a huge issue with it, but I was concerned that he looked the same (he did) but I would prefer an alternative solution first. It would be a last resort.

    • #205189

      Newspapers and magazines do it all the time, but I'm not sure if they do it on purpose or just make stupid mistakes!



    • #205208

      I just watched " Meet The Press " about a half an hour ago. There were more than one shot around the table which " crossed the line ", producing a temporary disorientation . . . .


      Rick Crampton

    • #205228

      I did'nt see anything wrong in flipping people direction. It only get distorted but can be fix. It is commonly do by any production. So, it is normal.

    • #205317

      It would seem to be OK, if facial asymmetry, which we all have to some extent, doesn't give the show away. With mild facial asymmetry, and no great dwelling on detail in close-up, you might well get away with it. However, extreme facial asymmetry and especially the change of direction in lighting if the scene is prominently lit from one side, would render the practice undesirable. Most of my 'talent', is animals filmed in their natural habitat(s) and I have quite often resorted to flipping, and zooming in on part of a 1920 x 1080 frame. On those occasions, anything would seem 'kosher' if not carried to extremes. I prefer to do it that way, because I am no fan of 'Digital Zoom'. In fact, disabling it, is the first thing I do on trying out a new camcorder.


      Ian Smith

      Dunedin – New Zealand

    • #205164

      Thanks for your reply! I think it's a great idea you suggest to raise it with the participants before-hand and get them to sign off that it's ok – or not, if they're uncomfortable with it. Surely no one can argue with that πŸ™‚

    • #205210

      Yeah, we don't want that to happen. Fortunately, if we do flip someone, they stay facing that direction for the entire program.

    • #205211

      That's what my thinking was, i.e. that it's done quite often (if needed). I was surprised to hear my colleague's objection. 

    • #205212

      Thanks for your response. Good points you raise.

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