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How to Produce a Video Interview

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Video interviews, or "talking heads", are common in all types of videos, from documentaries and newscasts to marketing videos and customer testimonials. Producing a video interview is a straightforward process that you can complete with nearly any type of home video equipment.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Varies

Here's How:

  1. Prepare yourself and your subject for the video interview by talking about the information that you're going to cover and the questions that you're going to ask. Your subject will be more relaxed and the video interview will go more smoothly if you've talked it out ahead of time.
  2. Find a good backdrop for conducting the video interview. Ideally, you'll have a location that illustrates something about the person you are interviewing, such as their home or workplace. Make sure that the background is attractive and not too cluttered.

    If you can't find a suitable backdrop for the video interview, you can always seat your subject in front of a blank wall.

  3. Depending on the location of your video interview, you may want to set up some lights. A basic three-point lighting setup can really enhance the look of your video interview.

    If you're working without a light kit, just use whatever lamps are available to adjust the lighting. Make sure that your subject's face is brightly lit, without any odd shadows.

  4. Set up your video camera on a tripod at eye-level with your interview subject. The camera should only be three or four feet from the subject. That way, the interview will be more like a conversation and less like an interrogation.
  5. Use the camera's eyepiece or viewfinder to check the exposure and lighting of the scene. Practice framing your subject in a wide shot, medium shot and close up, and make sure that everything in the frame looks right.
  6. Ideally, you'll have a wireless lavaliere microphone for recording the video interview. Clip the mic to the subject's shirt so that it's out of the way but provides clear audio.

    A lavaliere microphone will not get a good recording of you asking the interview questions. Use another lav mic for yourself, or a microphone attached to the camera, if you want the interview questions recorded as well as the answers.

    If you don't have a lav mic, you can always use the camcorder's built in microphone for the video interview. Just make sure the interview is done in a quiet space and that your subject speaks loudly and clearly.

  7. Seat yourself right next to the camcorder on the side with the flip-out screen. This way, you can subtly monitor the video recording without directing your attention away from the video interview subject.

    Instruct your interview subject to look at you, and not directly into the camera. This will give your interview a more natural look, with the subject looking slightly off camera.

  8. Press record and start asking your video interview questions. Make sure to give your subject plenty of time to think about and frame their answers; don't just jump in with another question at the first pause in conversation.

    As the interviewer, you need to be completely quiet while your interview subject is answering questions. You can respond with support and empathy by nodding or smiling, but any verbal responses will make editing the interview very difficult.

  9. Change up the framing between questions, so that you have a variety of wide, medium and close up shots. This will make it easier to edit different segments of the interview together, while avoiding awkward jump cuts.
  10. When you finish the video interview, leave the camera rolling for a few extra minutes. I've found that people relax when it's all over and start talking more comfortably than they did during the interview. These moments can yield great soundbites.
  11. How you edit the video interview depends on its purpose. If it's purely archival, you can just transfer the whole tape to DVD without editing. Or, you may want to watch the footage and choose the best stories and soundbites. You can put these together in any order, with or without narration, and add b-roll or transitions to cover any jump cuts.

Tips:

  1. Find your interviewee a comfortable chair to sit in. This will help them be more relaxed in front of the camera.
  2. Ask your interviewee to remove any bracelets or jewelry that could clank together and disturb the audio recording.
  3. Check the frame closely to make sure there are no background objects poking out from behind your subject's head.

What You Need

  • Video camera
  • Tripod
  • Lavaliere microphone (optional)
  • Video lights (optional)
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