How to Create a Simple Video Interview Setup
1. MAKE SURE YOUR EQUIPMENT IS READY
— Ensure your camera battery is fully charged and your memory card has enough space.
— A tripod will keep the camera steady during the whole interview. Attempting to handhold the camera will make much of the footage shaky and unusable. Even a simple tripod, like the Joby Gorillapod pictured at the right, can be a good choice.
— A lavalier microphone that clips onto the interviewee’s shirt will give you much crisper sound than any on-camera microphone. Make sure the microphone is plugged into the correct jack on your camera. Speak into it to make sure it’s working.
— Headphones that cover your ears are best because they help you more clearly hear the audio. Earbuds are an OK option, too. You should always use these to monitor the audio throughout the interview. Can you hear the interviewee?
2. FIND AN INTERVIEW LOCATION
— Ensure background noises are kept to a minimum. Anything from cars beeping outside to people walking down uncarpeted halls to phones ringing can ruin an interview’s sound and make editing later very hard. Definitely avoid any location where music is playing in the background; it will be nearly impossible to create a clean-sounding edit with it. I’ve been known to unplug refrigerators and take batteries out of wall clocks to keep down background noise.
— Make sure the light looks pleasing. Just like when you shoot a portrait, if you’re inside, turn off all the lights and position the interviewee near window light or in the path of light spilling in from an open door. If you’re outside, look for a shaded area where the interviewee will be out of direct or speckled sunlight.
3. POSITION THE INTERVIEWEE, THE CAMERA AND YOURSELF
— Sit in chairs that don’t swivel or squeak.
— The eye level of the interviewee and the camera should be the same, and you and the interviewee should be at the same eye level, too. The interviewee will be looking at you during the interview, so you don’t want him/her to look as if she’s looking down or up.
4. FRAME THE INTERVIEWEE
— Use the rule of thirds so that the interviewee’s eyes are near one of the top crossing points.
— The direction the interviewee is looking should be the direction where there is more space in the frame.
— Manually focus on the person’s eyes so they’re sharp.
(All photos and screen grabs © Laura Elizabeth Pohl)