Shooting Video Interviews: How To Record Good Audio
So far in our series of 13 guidelines to shooting video interviews, you have found out how to shoot better quality video interviews by learning why you want to make your interviewee comfortable and how to do that. We shared why it is important to the quality of the interview to get acquainted with the person first before you start filming and what type of questions should be asked and how to prepare them. You also now know where you want to place your interviewee and what you should have them wear, or not wear, to the interview. Then last post I shared some tips for making shooting a side-by-side interview easier on you.
Shooting an interview should not only look good, it also needs to sound good too! This is where investing in and picking the best microphone will pay off for you.
There are other audio challenges you’ll want to control in order to get the best interview you can. Here are some things you can do before you start shooting:
Make signs that say “QUIET PLEASE, SOUND RECORDING.” Put these signs on doors you don’t want opened, toilets you don’t want flushed, etc. Have signs made for the interview room door that says “Recording in progress, Please do not enter.” Bring tape and sign posts if necessary.
Be still and listen to the room for several minutes. What do you hear? If you hear it, your microphone will most likely hear it to.
Clap your hands to check for echoes. If the location is good for everything but echoes, putting the mic close helps, but consider adding things that helps reduce the echo. In studios they hang up sound blankets. Moving blankets work almost as well. I buy them from my local moving company for $15. You can also get moving blankets for a good price on Amazon.
Is there an air conditioner vent nearby? Can you turn it off?
Sometimes air conditioning controls are not convenient or can be locked up. Tungsten video lights make a room much hotter and can trigger the air conditioner to come on too. A wet napkin over a locked and covered air conditioning control will fool it. (Make sure you take it off when you leave!)
If it will be too uncomfortable without the air conditioner on, then try to find a location in the room away from the vents.
Is there traffic noise coming through a window? Other noises like airplanes overhead, leaf blowers, children playing, etc?
Some of these sounds in the background may work for your shot. For example, if you are interviewing a teacher right outside the school’s playground, it makes sense if it isn’t too loud. But many times you don’t want to hear a lot of distracting noises. You may need to switch locations or if you can’t, definitely shut the window if it’s open and move your subject away from the window. If what you are hearing will end soon and you can wait, do that. We’ve also been known to ask gardeners to stop leaf blowing and keep people from walking by while we were shooting.
If you are shooting in a home and can hear the refrigerator, unplug it (put a large sign on it to turn it back on and don’t open often while it is off).
Are you using a shotgun mic on a boom? Look at what is behind the interviewee. It’s usually better to aim it down at the subject rather than up at them. Aiming at the ceiling can create a hollow sound. If the interview room has bare wooden or concrete floors, putting rugs or blankets on the floor around the interviewee can improve the sound. It also reduces noise your interviewee may make if they shuffle their feet.
Also when people are nervous they can get a dry mouth. This will show up in audio, so have bottled water for both the interviewer and interviewee.
Next we’ll cover some lighting challenges you may face in shooting your interview.
- Check the room for unwanted sounds and do your best to control them.
- If necessary, make and post signs stating “recording in progress.”
- Pay attention to your mic placement.
- Don’t hesitate to ask people who are doing noisy activities to stop while you are interviewing.
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