“Often, hard shots can revolve around kids and dogs. How do you get them to look at the camera?” asked Steve McWilliams, the inventor of the EyeDirect® Focusing system.
In 1997, Steve was asked to shoot a television commercial for Target Department Stores featuring their “spokesdog,” PBS’s Wishbone. When the animal trainer told Steve that she could ‘pull’ the dog’s look FROM the lens, but could not ‘send’ the dog TO look directly into the camera, Steve had an idea. He fashioned a MacGuyver-style solution out of a pizza box, foam core, and a couple of mirrors, and the first EyeDirect prototype was born. Wishbone saw his trainer’s face in the mirror and looked directly into the lens behind it.
The first patent on the device came three years later and Steve founded EyeLiner, Inc. to market and sell his devices. He began as a small operation, handcrafting each device, personally loaning them out, or splitting the commission with rental houses. Since 2000, EyeDirect sales have grown and the accolades have not stopped coming. “It is SOOOO simple, I should have thought of that”, is the comment we often receive, says Steve.
As sales have grown, directors and photographers from around the world have had no issue getting their subjects to look into the camera lens regardless of their surroundings… or their mood! “If I have a difficult subject, I usually ask a member of their entourage to ‘look’ in the EyeDirect and interact with the subject, and that interaction is captured as eye-contact footage”, says McWilliams.
Steve says, “it is not that different to maintaining eye contact with a backseat passenger through the rear-view mirror. You just need the slightest connection to make human contact”. EyeDirect creates an intimate experience between the audience and the subject. Clients such as Masterclass, Disney, Facebook, Apple, NASCAR, BBC, ESPN, Google, and numerous colleges and universities have used EyeDirect to foster a more authentic experience.
EyeLiner, Inc. remains a small operation with laser-focused expertise for all of its success with big names. While other devices like EyeDirect have appeared over the years, Steve has stayed true to the spirit of his first handcrafted designs, high craftsmanship, and OVERNIGHT PRIORITY response to producers and directors. Filmmakers choose the EyeDirect devices over its competitors for their superior build quality and flexibility to use with any camera.
Always understanding the quick response needed in film production, Steve believes in offering superior customer service. He can be reached directly through EyeDirect’s main number 214-850-7063. EyeDirect offers same-day, expedited shipping for all units and spare parts.
“If you can have someone telling their story to the lens, that creates an even stronger experience than if they’re telling their story off-axis,” Steve says. “I don’t think we’re ever going to lose our appetite for eye contact.”