A video interview can be an excellent and relatively simple way of obtaining unique and original content for a promotional DVD or for publication on your website.
If it is your first time conducting a formal interview shoot though, it is all too easy to end up with disappointing and in some cases unusable footage.

Video
  • A dedicated digital camcorder will give vastly more superior results to that of a normal camera, or mobile phone.
  • Having said that, if you need to buy an all-in-one stills camera that also records video, try and get one that supports VGA quality at 30 frames per second and stores video in AVI format.  You may also want to check it can zoom and record at the same time (some can't).
  • Make sure you have decent (preferably natural) light, and that your subjects' faces aren't in shadow.
  • Avoid strong light sources from behind the subject. They will cause your subject's face to appear heavily shadowed in the final video, even if they don't look that way to your eyes.
  • A lightweight tripod is cheap to buy and makes the final video look far more professional.
  • Do a short playback test prior to the interview to test white balance etc.
  • Avoid distracting zooms, if your subject is speaking, it is best to frame the shot and leave it there.


Audio
  • Most camcorders allow an external microphone to be added. This removes camera noise and can be positioned close to the subject, meaning only their voice will be heard.
  • Do a short playback test prior to the interview to test your mic is working!
  • If at all possible, secure the environment against background noise.  Close doors, turn off mobile phones, set up signs saying "Filming in progress, please be quiet" etc.


Subjects

  • Record multiple takes if possible. People are generally nervous for the first one, and it gives the video editor more options.
  • If the subject is nervous, ask them to do a practise run with no camera first.
  • Some subjects will be less wooden on camera if you start filming everything immediately, including giving them their script etc. In other words, as the camera is already rolling they don't suddenly need to "perform". Digital tape is cheap, so it doesn't cost anything  to use this technique for short interviews.
  • Before speaking, the subject should be looking at the camera for a second or more, to allow a seamless fade in when editing for DVD.
  • In the same way, after speaking, the subject should continue looking forwards for a second or so.

Celerity Design are set up to publish digital video online, or produce one or many authored DVDs suitable for playing on home TV systems.  Please send us your requirements and we will be happy to give you a quote.



Article copyright 2006, Adam Sheik