People communicating in an informal and "natural" setting


A Team Interview

You are developing your production skills by setting up an interview situation. Interviews are easy to set up and shoot; they don't require scripted performances, props, action, etc. You will be gaining skills arranging the scene, recording, conducting, and being the subject, and editing; you will do this working in a small group.

Each member will use the group's collection of assets to create 1-minute interview segments. Use one interviewer and one or two subjects.

These productions are normally a team effort. They involve the contribution of a producer, director, writer, art director, videographer, sound recorder, lighting director, interviewer, and possibly a tele-prompter or cue card person. On small productions these roles may all be done by one or two people.

The subject will be a member of your team. You will take turns in the key roles; subject, interviewer, camera operator, sound recorder. We are all friends here, so relax and support one another.

Your end product will be 1-minute spots with a 3-second logo superimposed at the end. Keep this in mind as you do the interviews. You may use one long statement, or you might build a series of short statements.

The interviews will all be different and reflect the style of the actors. You might want to try several interviewers with one subject to get different energies. The interview may flow naturally or you make refine it as you go. This is "show biz" and we want great stuff, so you can repeat questions and restate answers. The custom is to say "take two", "take three", and so on, while you record.

The exercise:

Your workflow

  1. Define your topics and general direction. An interview can have a semi-scripted structure, or be unstructured. You should define the purpose of the encounter; is it message-driven, or impromptu chatting? It will depend on your subject and interviewer how much planning is done. At a minimum, a list of sample questions is good insurance against awkward pauses and loss of focus.
  2. Decide on a location for the shoot. If this were a serious project you would scout your location. You would look at the visual qualities of a location; and also details like permission to film, time when it is available, power supply, ambient noise patterns, natural and artificial light, and privacy.
  3. Make a rough floor-plan diagram of the position of talent, cameras, lights, etc. Record subjects talking and some silence; then listen to the results on a good monitor. This may reveal nasty echoes, or bad HVAC noise and ambient sound.
  4. Organize your talent, props, and gear. Print out any scripted materials.
  5. Record your sound on the best device available. This may be the lavalier, shotgun mic., Zoom recorder, or ???. Use something positioned closer than the in-camera microphone.
  6. Perform the shooting. Your style should be flexible enough to do several takes of answers and questions. We are all invested in the success of this and you don't have to be formal and well-behaved, as you would if you were interviewing the mayor, for example. You may do some takes with different camera angles to get wide, and close-up shots, and reaction shots of the interviewer. Always imagine what you may need during editing, and shoot plenty of video. Videographers with a single camera will shoot "B-roll" of the subject from different angles and framing; close-ups of hands, over-the-shoulder shot of the interviewer, etc. Also shoot reaction shots, "fake" footage of the interviewer listening, nodding, taking notes, and otherwise looking engaged. This can be edited in to break up a long take or a bad moment of video.
  7. Collect your video files and store them in your group's folder on the server. Each member can pull the assets out to do their own 1-minute edit.
  8. Combine the audio, and various video clips, and the logo into the final piece.
  9. Save a final movie file of the project.