Interviews can often be incredibly tricky, whether planned or unplanned, it’s vital that several steps are taken to ensure that everything is captured correctly. More often or not, it comes down to preparation; has my audio equipment been fully charged? Do I have sufficient storage on my SD? Do I have the correct camera mount for my recording device? All of these are important questions, so how can you help to prepare in advance?
Preparation is the most essential and overlooked part of capturing an interview. The below steps can help you to guarantee that you are fully prepared for the shoot:
- Charge all equipment – This one may sound obvious but it’s really easy to overlook. Whether you’re using a phone or camera, always remember to bring a spare power source (battery, cables) for backup. There’s nothing worse than potentially losing power in the middle of an interview.
- Storage space – Another step that’s easy to miss. Check that you have plenty of space on your memory cards and storage devices (it’s worth checking your resolution settings on your phone/camera as this can affect file size too)
- The little things – Remember to pack ALL of your equipment (camera mounts, tripods, windshields and cables)
Now that you’re fully prepared for the interview, the next stage involves set-up.
Whilst on location, the first thing to consider is the area in which you decide to film, it’s always preferable to choose somewhere quiet and with fewer people. A noisy environment can affect the quality of the audio recording and more people can result in unwanted background distractions. If you decide to film outside, consider using a windshield over the mic as this can help to reduce the ambient background noise.
Given time-constraints and so forth, it’s unlikely that your interview subject will be around long enough for multiple takes, it’s therefore crucial that your equipment is rigged correctly before even starting. Begin by mounting the camera to the tripod, ensure that this is fixed securely to avoid wobble and drift. Once you’ve rigged the equipment, consider what you (the viewer) can see in the frame; is the background clear? Will the ambient lighting affect the quality of the shot? Are there other company logos present in the distance? If you’re happy with the set-up, the next stage is to apply the rule of thirds setting to your recording device. This guideline is visualised as a series of gridlines that help to improve the overall composition. The subject of the interview should be positioned at the points where the lines cross (as demonstrated in one of our videos below)
To help ensure that your subject remains in position it’s a good idea to set a floor marker to indicate where he/she should stand (it may prove useful to do the same for your interviewer so they remain well out of shot during filming) Below are some other tips to help you get the most out of your interview:
- Avoid looking directly at the camera – This one sits more with the interviewee, but it can make a big difference. Your subject should always be addressing the person asking the questions. Reaffirm this before the interview starts.
- Allow for head space – It’s never possible to keep your subject exactly still throughout the filming so it’s a good idea to allow for ‘head space’ in the frame to account for movement.
- Stay clear of the tripod – Try to actively avoid standing near the tripod as the slightest knock will be noticeable in the captured footage.
- Capture everything! – Whilst ingesting and logging can be a tedious task in post-production, it’s always better to have more footage to work with!
- Brief your subject! – Before filming, you may find it useful to talk through the questions with your interviewee, it can help to provide clarity and give a better understanding of what’s being asked. Briefing can also help you to tackle the interview in stages which can really help during editing!
- 3 second windows – 3 second windows are a simple way of signifying the start and end of a take. This measure will prove useful during editing.
With these tips and pointers in mind, you should be on the way to capturing a perfectly good interview, whilst there will always be stumbling blocks along the way good preparation will ensure that you’ve accounted for these errors throughout.