Thursday, October 27, 2016

Shooting Video Interviews: What Should They Wear?

video-wardrobeIn the past few posts in our series of 13 guidelines to shooting video interviews, we’ve covered why you want to make your interviewee comfortable and how to do that, why it is important to the quality of the interview to get acquainted with the person first before you start filming, what type of questions should be asked and how to prepare them and where you want to place your interviewee.

What your interviewee wears is also important to shooting a good video interview. What looks good in real life is much different than what looks good on camera, whether it’s photos or film.

As in determining how you want your interviewee to come across and where to place them, you’ll do the same with their wardrobe. Each situation will call for a different look. Interviewing a scientist in a lab? Having her wear a lab coat makes sense. Shooting a farmer in a field? Then it only makes sense he would be wearing his work clothes.

If possible, give him/her advance information about what to wear and more specifically, what not to wear. While it is important that they feel comfortable in their clothes, you not only want to make sure what they are wearing makes sense to the shot, you also have to keep in mind the limits of your camera. The camera doesn’t “see” colors and patterns the same as your eyes.

It is best that the person wear solids (except red) and avoid stripes, houndstooth and other patterns. The latter shows up as a moiré pattern on the video which is distracting to the viewer. Red colors also cause flickering.

Have them avoid pure white or black clothing as the camera will boost the contrast. White on screen can blind the viewer and black and navy will look as dark as midnight. This is especially problematic if your interviewee has dark skin so light clothing on dark complexions should be avoided in that instance. A white shirt under a darker jacket is okay but a light blue shirt is preferable. Have them stick to more muted, neutral colors or pastels.

Also they need to avoid wearing anything with sparkles or sequins.

As I shared previously, video cameras have problems with saturated reds, thin stripes and small patterns, but we often have to live with such problems to avoid making a big issue of it if the person shows up wearing such a clothing item. However if it is possible, have them bring a few sets of clothes in case the first colors they choose counteract with the background. For example, the dark purple he’s wearing is an exact match for the background and he’d look like a floating head. We once had a client who wanted us to shoot her on a green screen in order to drop in different backgrounds. She showed up wearing, you guessed it, green! (Luckily we were prepared to shoot her on a solid white background that worked out. I know videographers who keep a selection of neutral colored shirts in their studio in case people show up wearing taboo clothing colors. It’s best to have options.

The color and pattern of clothing material isn’t the only thing to think about. Some material, like nylons and polyesters, may also be “noisy”. We had that problem once with a subject when we used a lavalier mic on her. While she chose a great color for the camera – pale blue – her blouse made a swishing sound every time she moved.

One thing that is tough to deal with are glasses as they reflect the glare of the lights. You can position them to cut down on the glare. You may want to ask them if they have contacts or wouldn’t mind taking their glasses off. Of course, in the latter circumstance, you want to make sure you don’t see indentations on their noses from their glasses. A little powder or makeup comes in handy in this situation. In fact, using makeup is smart, even for men.

Also ask the person to not wear or if they do have it on, take off any noisy jewelry. Be particularly mindful of noisy necklaces or dangly earrings on women.

With men, have them remove their wallets, change, cell phone, car keys, etc. from their pockets. You don’t want anything in their pockets that might create a bulge or start jingling in the middle of a shoot.

If you are shooting at an event, make sure you take any name tags off.

Keep a clean hankerchief handy. The person may be nervous and they may perspire. Have them bring a comb and whatever hair products they use. It’s a good idea to have hairspray, a new comb and mirror on hand as well.

We’ll be talking about how to handle shooting two people in the same shot in our next post.

Action Steps:

  • Think about how you want your interviewee to come across in the interview.
  • Give the person advance notice as to the types of colors, patterns and material that should be avoided.
  • Before you start shooting, make sure the interviewee doesn’t have any flashy or noisy accessories that will be distracting.
  • If the glasses glare is a problem and if they can, have them remove them.
  • Have handkerchiefs, makeup, new combs and hairspray on hand.
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