Join Anthony Q. Artis for an in-depth discussion in this video Preparing for interviews, part of Video Production Techniques: Promotional Videos.
So, one of the main things that I'm thinking about when I'm on the location scout for a project like this that involves interviews, is where am I going to shoot those interviews. What I'm looking for always, is the most visually attractive location that also helps to tell my story, visually on screen. And in creative letter press, the answer was obvious. It had to be one of these printing presses. So, my original concept was to do a black infinity background effect, where I would light the subject with hard light and just have a single shaft of light on that subject, and then somewhere behind them in the background, I would have a single shaft of light falling on one of these printing presses, and everything else falling off into black infinity.
And that's a great concept. The only problem is that, with this particular location, because they have white walls, it would have involved a lot of setup in the lighting to flag off those white walls, to keep the light from reflecting. And also, one of the other issues with it is that, I had a choice of lighting four different machines, which would be four times the setup, or I could have a single machine for all 4 interviews which could also get a little visually boring. So, the simple and easy solution that we came up with for this problem, was to just use a green screen background.
The advantage of going with the green screen background was that I could put anything that I wanted behind each subject, and then I could decide after the fact, what image will be most appropriate to put in there. So, the green screen background also has the advantage of only having to light it and set it up one time and to just swap out all my different subjects in the chair. So, what I decided to do was, for each person's interview, I'm going to go and get a variety of different shots, close ups and maybe a little bit of movement going on with the machines, anything that might be appropriate for them.
And I'm going to get them in master shots, as well as extreme close-ups for each background plate, so that I have some options an I can figure out which one's going to look best, behind who. Once I decided on what the interview setup was going to be, the next thing I turned my attention to, was mic choice. So normally, when it comes to sit-down interviews, my preference is to have a Lavalier microphone, as well as a shotgun mic in addition. Just two mics is always better than one, and gives you options in the editing room in case you have clothing noise or any other issues.
In this case, though, we decided to go with just a single shotgun microphone, simply because, once I put the loud mic on some of the subjects, I notice that it kind of took away from the frame visually and was distracting. So, we decided to lose the lav mic and go with just a single 416 mic, which is always fine. It just meant that I had to listen a little more carefully for any potential audio issues I might have. The other advantage of going with just a single shotgun microphone mounted on a stand, was that I could quickly and easily move different subjects in the chair. So, it saved me again, time and money.
For this particular project, we had four different interview set ups. Three of them were regular single person interviews. However, one of them, the most important one, was with the owners, Doug and Bruce, and that was a two person interview. Now, two person interviews aren't that different than single interviews. However, there are some simple things that you want to take into consideration. One of them is, making sure that the size of my green screen was big enough to accommodate two people. The other thing I had to think about, where the camera placement, and how it's going to cover both people at the same time.
So, it was important for me to have two cameras, for this particular setup, so that I could get, both, a master shot ff two people in it, and then I could also get a single shot at any given time of whoever was speaking. This gives me the option in the editing room to then chop it up, and either be a two person interview or, if I wanted to, after the fact, I could make it appear that I had Doug and Bruce sitting in two different chairs at two different times. So, it just gave me some options in editing. The last thing that I had to consider with regards to the two person interview was audio.
Now, I could have captured this on single shotgun mic, but sometimes the axis, especially on the Sennheiser 416 mic we're using, can be very direct. So, if somebody's a little bit off axis, they can be a little bit softer. So, typically if I'm doing that, I would back up the mic, but fortunately I have the options of using two microphones for this setup. So, I gave each person their own shotgun mic, and then the only thing I had to watch out for during the take to be aware of, is that when one person wasn't speaking, you could often pick breath nose because these mics are so sensitive but because I split them into two separate channels on to separate cameras.
We are going to easily the option of editing to get rid of any excessive noise that might have come from the extra microphone. Now, another very important consideration when you're doing promotional videos is that your clients look good. Remember, this is not documentary. We don't have the same rules as documentary. It's very similar to documentary, but it's different in one very fundamental aspect, and that is, that I have a very direct goal to make sure that my clients and their business look good every time, and a big component to helping me do that, apart from the lighting and the camera, is simply using makeup.
Remember, you're putting regular people down in front of bright lights, and in many cases, you're shooting them in closeups on HD Video. You're not doing them any favors by not making them up. So, by simply carrying a little bit of translucent powder makeup in at least three different skin tones, I can make sure that I'm able to cover the shade of anybody that might be sitting in my chair ,and most importantly, I can make sure they look their very best on camera. And in many cases to be honest, I can make them look better than they do in real life, and everybody appreciates that.
So translucent powder makeup is a vital thing to bring along on any type of shoot like this where it's important that people look good. When it comes time to do the sound check for people sitting in the chair, I recommend that you don't just do the old sound check, one, two, three. It simply never lasts long enough, and people often raise their voice when they know it's a sound check. Instead I recommend that you sit your subjects down, and just have a normal banter conversation with them, or if you can't get a normal banter conversation going or time is tight, I like to just always ask people what they had for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
And ask them a few more questions about it to get them talking about it in a normal conversational tone. And while they're doing that, is when I like to adjust the microphones right before we start. Right now, I want to be clear that I'm just going over some specific choices that I made for this particular project and this particular set of interviews. However, please check out my interview course on lynda.com, where I get into full and glorious detail on lighting, camera placement and audio, as well as shooting group interview and many other interview related topics.
- Attracting clients
- Crafting a concept
- Producing a statement of work, budget, and contract
- Assessing your resources
- Scheduling the shoot
- Working with cameras
- Editing the footage
- Using text, music, and visual effects
- Setting your rate and paying the crew