Obey the 3 Golden Rules of Filming
Firstly and most importantly you must obey all three golden rules of filming! Check them out before going any further!
Do Your Homework
Next, you need a topic for the interview. The topic needs to be one that engages the audience as well as the interviewee. It also needs to be something that the interviewee is familiar with and will have no trouble answering questions about. There is no use in interviewing a male about make-up application techniques for example (although there may be exceptions).
Write Your Questions
The questions you ask also need to be planned before the interview. Depending on the time frame, the number of questions you have will vary. As a guideline, for a five minute interview there should be roughly four or five questions.
The questions need to be broad enough to allow the interviewee to expand on their answers. Asking questions that require nothing but a yes or no answer is not going to provide a very interesting interview. At the same time however, you need to avoid asking questions that are too broad because either the interviewee won’t know where to begin their answer, or they will speak for too long and you will end up having to edit out half their answer.
Do Not Interrupt!
Do not interrupt or talk over your interviewee. Ask the question and then allow the interviewee to answer. Wait a considerable time before asking the next question because the interviewee might think of something else they’d like to say. It is much easier to edit out silence than audio that contains both interviewer and interviewee talking.
Be Deliberate with Your Setup
The location you choose to interview a subject is a decision that should not be taken lightly. What is in the background can affect how the subject is interpreted, not to mention distract the viewer. Generally a bare background with a monotonous colour is ideal as it doesn’t take the attention away from the subject.
There are exceptions, however, as there are to every rule. Depending on the subject and topic of the interview, what you place in the shot with the interviewee can reinforce the message you want to come across in the video. For example, having a bookcase in the shot may add an academic feel to the interview.
Framing is key
The interviewee either needs to be centre frame or on one side open to the other side (frame in thirds). If using centre frame, the top of the frame needs to be in line or just a little above the top of the interviewee’s head. The bottom of the frame needs to cut through the subject’s chest.
If using a frame in thirds (usually used when the subject is sitting on a couch either by themselves or with the interviewer), the camera operator needs to ensure that the subject is sitting either in the first or last third of the frame with one line bisecting him/her, facing the remaining 2 thirds. In other words, the subject needs to be open to the camera.
Where are you standing?
Where you stand as the interviewer will influence where the interviewee will direct their answers. If you would like the interviewee to direct their answers to the camera then you must position yourself directly behind the camera. Similarly, when using a frame in thirds you want the interviewee to face the remaining two thirds of the frame and hence you must stand in that general direction. If the interviewer is to be on camera as well then they must be positioned in the third on the other end of the frame.
Last, but certainly not least, is the importance of SOUND QUALITY to the overall success of your interview. There are two steps you should take to ensure that your interview sound is the best it can be.
Firstly, use an external microphone to record audio if it is available to you. You can either plug this straight into the camera or record it on another device. External mics are often better quality than built-in camera mics and are better suited to interviews. Lapel mics which attach to the interviewee’s collar are ideal for interviews, but a mic held slightly out of frame will also work!
Secondly, the location of the interview will impact the ambient sound and quality of the audio recording. Be aware of what sounds are going on! If you can hear a fridge buzzing, unplug it. If there are sounds coming from outside, shut all the windows and doors. If you need to conduct the interview outdoors, make sure its not a windy day and that your microphone has some sort of windsock.
Good audio quality is imperative for your interview!
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