How to Film an Interview

Interviews are a great way to connect with an audience and viewers by allowing them to create a personal, intimate relationship with the person being interviewed. An interview gives us insight into a specific subject from someone who has credibility in their field. In order to provide the same credibility from a film production stand point, it is very important to film the interview in a way that highlights the subject in a way that complements their style of speech and the subject of which they are talking about.

Corporate_Interview_in_StudioWhen filming an interview, the first thing you want to think about is the subject. Who is being interviewed? What is the topic of the interview? What is in the background of the interview? If you are filming an interview with a doctor or a lawyer, you want the background to show they are studious and educated. If you are filming a personal trainer then you may want to film with a gym in the background. If you are filming something with darker subject matter then a darker background will be necessary.

Once you have thought about what the background will be, you will also want to think about what the subject will be wearing. Usually in an interview you only see someone from the waste up. The style of clothing they wear can have a meaningful impact on the interview if their attire matches the subject. A doctor should wear a medical lab coat; a lawyer should be in a suit.

Pixel ProductionsOnce your background is set and the person being interviewed is wearing proper attire, you want to set up the lighting. The way you set up lighting varies with each project, but there are similar lighting techniques that are universal when lighting for an interview, known as Three Point Lighting. First, you will want to light the background. Each background is different, so you will have to keep that in mind. Next, you will want a backlight behind the subject facing the back of their head. This backlight allows for the subject to be separated from the backdrop. A key light is the main light on the subject. This will often be the brightest light and focused on one side of the persons face. In order to balance out the shadows, you will put a fill light on the other side of the subject to light the other side of the persons face. There are various ways to bounce light using flags, and reflectors, but for a basic interview a three point lighting system is the best way to go create a professional looking production.

One of the most important aspects of an interview is the audio. Since what the person being interviewed is saying is the most important part of the video, it is important to record the highest possible audio. There are multiple ways to record audio for an interview. One technique is to use a wireless lav microphone. A lav mic clips to the subjects collar or shirt, and a wireless receiver is clipped to the person out of frame. Another wireless receiver is plugged directly into the camera to feed the audio into the recording. A boom microphone is another option to record audio for an interview. There are multiple types of boom microphones that are available and each one serves a different purpose for where the interview is being filmed.

The last thing to keep in mind when filming an interview is where the camera will be placed. The camera should be set at eye level of the person being interviewed. If available, a second camera is highly recommended. By having two cameras you can have a medium shot and a close up shot, which allows you to switch back and forth between the two angles, and it keeps the viewers more interested. It also allows you to cut between takes without the viewer noticing.

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1 Comment

  1. Rick McClellan - June 3, 2015

    The audio portion of this article has errors.

    The statement that reads, ” it is important to record the highest possible audio.” Is misleading. It suggests possibly recording the highest possible audio level to the camera or recorder. Such a practice could lead to clipping the audio which can cause distortion. Spoken word volume can be quite dynamic, so leave yourself some headroom to allow for loud peaks in volume.

    Error #2. The statement reads, “A lav mic clips to the subjects collar or shirt, and a wireless receiver is clipped to the person out of frame. Another wireless receiver is plugged directly into the camera to feed the audio into the recording.” It should read, the lav mic plugs into a wireless TRANSMITTER that is clipped to the person out of frame. A wireless RECEIVER is plugged directly into the camera input.

    Note: A wireless mic system consist of a transmitter and a receiver, not two receivers. The transmitter (bodypack with lav mic) goes on the talent, and the receiver mounts to the camera to feed the audio from the transmitter to the camera.

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