Shooting Video Interviews: 13 Guidelines To Follow
A large majority of special interest videos will include on-camera interviews. While these can be shot almost anywhere, having them look and sound professional does come with its share of challenges. If you are not a skilled videographer, don’t panic. By following these guidelines, and taking time to dedicate to practice, you should be prepared to deal with many types of interviewing situations and come away with a good interview.
For example, a few years back we arranged to shoot a series of interviews in Venice Beach, California. I was concerned when I saw the tiny size of the room and the fact that the walls were bright orange. Cars kept driving up right outside the room, slamming doors or leaving their motors running.
However, I noticed there was a nice sidelight coming in through the window so I positioned and framed the interviewee so that I was able to throw the orange wall out of focus. Doing so made it look like a seamless backdrop and it worked out great. While dealing with the intermittent car noise, we resigned ourselves to stopping during the shooting session to wait for the car noise to go away. Even though that was a bit of a pain, we did manage to shoot a dozen short interviews within the space of an hour. The takeaway here is that you just can’t give up in situations like this, you just make the best of a situation, especially if this is the only chance you are going to get to have this person on camera.
Here is a quick overview of the 13 guidelines for shooting interviews I will cover in the coming weeks. Thanks go to cinematographer Ron Dexter for sharing some of his personal tips with us.
Perfect lighting, a great background, good sound and camera work can’t overcome an interviewee who is not at ease. That discomfort will show up in the quality of your interview. One of the best things you can do is get to know who you will be interviewing.
Plan on taking some time before the interview to get acquainted with the person. Ask “getting to know you” questions while you, the camera operator or coordinator gets the person set up for the shot.
Consider the interviewee’s posture and what you want it to be. Is it comfortable and relaxed, authoritative, or in the “hot seat?” What the person will sit on, or not sit on, will influence this.
Write down the questions you want to ask in advance. To prepare your interviewees, you might want to give them an idea of what you’ll be asking, but don’t give them the exact questions as you want them to sound spontaneous.
What your interviewee wears is also important. If possible, give him advance information about what to wear and more specifically, what not to wear. Neutral colors are best and light clothing on dark complexions should be avoided.
A two person side-by-side interview is a trickier shot, especially if there is a significant height or skin complexion difference. This is one you’ll need more practice doing.
Before your shoot you want to assess the location’s audio conditions and prepare for noisy interruptions.
As with the location’s audio conditions, you will need to consider how your subject will be lit. In all likelihood, you’ll need to add additional lighting.
When selecting backgrounds, consider where the camera will go and if the interviewee will have decent lighting AND good sound.
Staying on the same shot, like a medium shot, of even the most interesting person soon gets boring. This is where changing your framing will make a big difference in the quality of your video.
Here is a common scenario: you are the camera operator and the interviewer, so you can’t be on camera during the shoot. If you want to be shown asking the questions, then you will need to shoot yourself and add the two clips in the editing process.
12) Get A Release
Be sure to get a signed release from the interviewees before they leave. Granting an interview is an implied consent, but one on paper is insurance.
Plan on things going wrong during an interview and think about how best to deal with them when that happens. Again, this is an area that will improve with practice.
Over the coming weeks we’ll delve more into each of these guidelines. Next week, we’ll talk about tips and tricks to make your interviewee comfortable. Having a comfortable interviewee will not only make shooting easier, it will make your video much better.
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