Join Amy DeLouise for an in-depth discussion in this video Positioning the subject, part of The Art of Video Interviews.
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Female 1: Let's talk about positioning your subject. It's probably one of the most important things you're going to do when you're on location. Male 1: Yeah, it's really important that you get the person in a situation where they're going to feel comfortable. So, one of the things I often look for if I'm doing an interview is, is there a particular place that they spend a lot of time? Within their work environment. The last thing you want to do is transplant somebody and they're constantly feeling out of place. Female 1: You really want them to be comfortable, because probably we're a lot more comfortable around cameras than they are.
But, that being said, one of the things you have to be careful of is what kind of chair they're sitting in, especially if you're in somebody's home or office, there might be a lot of swivel chairs. It seems like inevitably, they're all squeaky. Male 1: Yeah and sometimes a chair can be bad, because people become too relaxed, you know? We all have our favorite chair, and you sort of slump, and you know, you're leaning back. You don't have good vocal quality. So if you can get people really sitting up straight, that's going to help. Sometimes stools work well. I often prefer to do interviews standing if I can do it, but if it's a long time, then people's energy may go down.
Female 1: That's true. And also, I like to think about the position of the chair in relation to where my key is going to be. If I'm going to do a regular key or perhaps a reverse key, I have to think about where the camera position is in relation to the subject. Male 1: And sometimes the chair will be ideal if it has a smaller back so it doesn't show up. You have to be careful, right? If the chair is a huge backed chair with wings. And all you're thinking about is, boy that's some nice upholstery. It could really get in the way of the interview. So a lot of times we look for very minimal chairs.
In fact, like right now, we're sitting on some very small. Relatively, you know, miniscule stools that are giving us good back posture, but aren't really, there's nothing there. There's no big sides. They don't swivel. They're just nice and simple. Female 1: Also, you want to think about the distance from the subject to the background. A lot of times I find people who are new at doing interviews will put somebody plastered right up against the wall. And that's probably not the best place for them to be, want the background to be able to fall off a little bit into the distance. So give them a little separation. Male 1: The good news is, is that cameras with shallow depth of fields are becoming very common.
We're seeing you know, larger sensor cameras, DSLRs, micro 4 3rds type cameras. And this works well. But you still need some distance there in order to put that. What you don't want to really see happening is people during the interview going, oh, what's on the bookshelf? Or starting to read the books. Or starting to see the background elements or counting people. You want enough that the background reads. But at a lot times, we would like to use that boca or bouquet. And sort of have things fall off. So, there are many ways to position the subject. You'll find comprehensive training available here on lynda.com, all about lighting and interviews and these techniques.
But do make sure that as the producer or the director, you think about how the subject is comfortable and the environment you are putting him in.
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- Planning interview goals
- Anticipating interviewee's answers
- Conducting background research
- Scheduling interviews
- Building rapport
- Teasing out supporting points
- Getting transcripts
- Avoiding obstacles with challenging interview subjects