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Pro Video Tips is designed for busy videographers like you. This series brings you a new tip every week, on everything from controlling reflections to hiding mics. Host Anthony Q. Artis covers shooting techniques for particular video challenges like portraits, tools to help you control light and judge exposure, and advice for the traveling videographer, such as putting together a great lens kit or packing a truck. Come back every Tuesday for a new round of tips.
- One of the things we try to do with Pro Video Tips is to focus on tips and techniques to help you squeeze a little more production value out of limited resources. Camera moves, of course, are a huge one. But even more basic than cool camera moves are the number of cool camera angles. Can you show the action before your camera from more than one angle? The easiest way to show multiple angles of any action is to shoot with multiple operators on multiple cameras. However, shooting with multiple cameras is the easy way but not, by any means, the only way.
Today on Pro Video Tips, I'm gonna share with you a method of shooting single-camera interviews so that they can actually be cut to look like two, or even three camera interviews by the time it's all said and done. Check them out. The simple trick to pulling off the illusion of multiple cameras for your audience, is to carefully edit in your head, and periodically change your camera angle as your interview progresses, so that with your one camera, you can still at least get some of the same shots you would get if you did have two or more cameras. I'm gonna walk you through the technique of how to fake a multi-camera interview shoot with just one camera.
For this technique to really work, you have to think through when it's most appropriate to cut to another angle, and be prepared to adjust your shot accordingly. As bonus coverage, it may come in handy later. The first few moments a subject comes in the room and sit down can also be used to pop off some close-ups of hand gestures, greetings, and help establish a subject's demeanor and state-of-mind prior to a formal interview. Only you can decide whether it's fair or appropriate to show your subject beforehand, but nervousness, confidence, concern, or other emotional states are often more apparent in people's less guarded body language in the moments just before a formal interview starts.
Again, our goal here is to capture as many visual aspects of this conversation as possible with only one camera. Now, when it comes to shooting our main interview, we aren't gonna do too much differently than normal. When it's time to dive into the interview itself, we're gonna stick with a fairly traditional medium shot. However, to vary our coverage of the main content, we can go to tighter close-up shots during a few strategic points in the conversation. I say "strategic", because the close-up is our power shot. It's the strongest emotional tool we have in our interview composition tool-belt, so we only wanna use it during the strongest points of our content.
Every time my subject is making a key point, or the conversation gets to its most dramatic or emotional points, we wanna do a dramatic zoom-in while they're talking, or a quick punch-in just before they answer, and then hold on that tighter shot for the drama. When the drama subsides, or when the emotion of the moment is reset by a new line of questioning, we can then pull back out, so that when the next dramatic moment comes, we'll still have that close-up in our back pocket to go to. Now, we can check off our medium shots and close-ups.
A riskier variation of faking multi-camera coverage for interviews, is to periodically reset your entire camera position. By shooting from a more extreme angle than the normal frontal medium and close-ups we're used to, it really helps to sell the audience that the project was covered with more than one camera. So, that's a reward, convincing and dynamic multi-angle coverage of the action. The downside to this method, however, is that you never know what a subject is going to say while you're locked into your B-cam shot. So, the person you're shooting could make some really passionate point, or give us the perfect golden soundbyte we'd hoped for, but using this riskier technique, we could end up with our only coverage of that golden soundbyte, captured from a less-than-ideal vantage point.
Generally, if someone is making a strong point, or delivering an emotional moment, we usually wanna capture it from a more traditional frontal viewpoint with a strong emotional eye-line that connects with the audience. So, it's a film-making gamble that often pays off, but occasionally it can burn you. You'll have to decide for yourself if the risk is worth the reward. Using these techniques so far, we've got our medium shot and a few close-ups, and if we're really feeling ourselves that day, we may also have some profile shots, and one or two other different camera angles of parts of our main interview.
However, this technique of faking, or as I prefer to think of it, creating the illusion of multi-camera coverage, can be entirely pulled off immediately after you shoot your main interview. In the next movie, I'll break down exactly how to do it all after the fact.
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