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Old December 18th, 2007, 10:38 AM   #1
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Advice on simple "interview" setup

So I want to "interview" my grandparents about their lives and opinions, for both historical and personal reasons. I will probably make a DVD and send it to a lot of my relatives. I would like this little project to be relatively high quality, so I am looking for advice from people who know about this stuff.

I have a Canon HV20 and a tripod. Any equipment that I might look into? Any settings on the camera I should look at?

I have read about microphones, and it seems the two options are something like the Canon DM50, or lavalier mics. I am leaning towards the DM50 because of the complexity of running two lavalier mics with a mixer. I don't want to intimidate my grandparents.

Thanks for your help.
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Old December 18th, 2007, 10:42 AM   #2
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*Lighting* !!!

Audio and lighting are the two things that will make or break a production.

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Old December 18th, 2007, 01:00 PM   #3
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Best to get the mic as close as you can. If they are seated close to each other, a lav might cover both people if they are wedding close, put it on the person who speaks the most softly, and let your AGC do the work. Alternatively, use boundary mic on an end table located between them.

A shotgun on the camcorder will not give good sound unless the camcorder is right in their face (i.e., within a few feet), and that is intimidating.
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Old December 18th, 2007, 02:59 PM   #4
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Hi Justin,

I do quite a few interviews each year and as Carl says your two most important aspects for a nice looking effect are lighting and audio...

If I can't get away with simple reflectors and out doors usually you can. You may need to opt for adding lights... I use Lowell Totas and a Rifa lightbox for most of my set ups...

Audiowise, any mic on-camera will sound poor... even a cheap lav mic will give you better results than a shotgun on your camera. For your camera, which I suppose has a minijack mic input, you'd need a Beachtek or double adapter I believe ... but something like a pair of Audio Technica ATR35s will be better than a cheap shotgun... I used these in the early days of doing interviews with adapters and a Beachtek on my first DV camera, and they are not bad for the money.
The other thing you need to decide is if you want the interviewer to be heard... I often ask questions myself but cut out my voice...(You'll need to structure your questions accordingly and not but in while the interviewee is talking, to may for an easier edit)
If I use an interviewer and want them in shot I'll do two takes (I've only one camera) one shooting the interviewees and then a shot the other way often over the interviewees shoulder as the interviewer asks his questions again... this way you get your noddies too...
You can mix the audio track and the video track in post... this bit is fun, but don't forget your cutaways... ie. shoot close ups of as many things they mention in the interview to break things up... this is my latest one to give you an idea:
http://www.questbaits.com/wmv/fletchinterview.wmv
The subject you'll find a bit strange, it was for a UK fishing bait company, but it might give you a few ideas..(I used a pair of Sennhieser G2's with the the Totas providing the light)
Finally check out the way they do things on your local TV... more ideas there.

cheers
Gareth
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Old December 20th, 2007, 03:02 PM   #5
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Great, thanks for all the good advice. I decided to go with 3 AT35 lavalier mics and an Azden "Cam-3" mixer. Hopefully this will give me some good sound. As far as lighting, I will just have to try to get as much light as possible from the lamps that are already set up. I actually have a nice light that I use for photography, but that would be too intimidating I think. So I'll just have to make do.
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Old December 20th, 2007, 03:32 PM   #6
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check here and google for 3 point lighting

http://www.mediacollege.com/lighting/
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Old December 27th, 2007, 06:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Watkins View Post
Hi Justin,

I do quite a few interviews each year and as Carl says your two most important aspects for a nice looking effect are lighting and audio...

If I can't get away with simple reflectors and out doors usually you can. You may need to opt for adding lights... I use Lowell Totas and a Rifa lightbox for most of my set ups...

Audiowise, any mic on-camera will sound poor... even a cheap lav mic will give you better results than a shotgun on your camera. For your camera, which I suppose has a minijack mic input, you'd need a Beachtek or double adapter I believe ... but something like a pair of Audio Technica ATR35s will be better than a cheap shotgun... I used these in the early days of doing interviews with adapters and a Beachtek on my first DV camera, and they are not bad for the money.
The other thing you need to decide is if you want the interviewer to be heard... I often ask questions myself but cut out my voice...(You'll need to structure your questions accordingly and not but in while the interviewee is talking, to may for an easier edit)
If I use an interviewer and want them in shot I'll do two takes (I've only one camera) one shooting the interviewees and then a shot the other way often over the interviewees shoulder as the interviewer asks his questions again... this way you get your noddies too...
You can mix the audio track and the video track in post... this bit is fun, but don't forget your cutaways... ie. shoot close ups of as many things they mention in the interview to break things up... this is my latest one to give you an idea:
http://www.questbaits.com/wmv/fletchinterview.wmv
The subject you'll find a bit strange, it was for a UK fishing bait company, but it might give you a few ideas..(I used a pair of Sennhieser G2's with the the Totas providing the light)
Finally check out the way they do things on your local TV... more ideas there.

cheers
Gareth
Fantastic advice! Thanks for that.

R
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Old January 11th, 2008, 01:09 PM   #8
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So I am back from doing the interview, and it was a lot of fun. It was stressful too, for both me and the people being interviewed!

I had an audio problem thought that I hope you guys can help me out. There is a noticeable "hum" in all of my video I shot.

Here is a sample clip:
http://trexvis.com/audio%20sample2.mov

Like I said before, I was using AT35 lavalier mics and an Azden "Cam-3" mixer, going into the mic in on the HV20. I know this is inexpensive gear, but I thought that I could get some decent audio without an unwanted hum like this. Also, on this particular clip, the camera was running off battery power.

Thanks for your help.
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Old January 12th, 2008, 03:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Trexler View Post
There is a noticeable "hum" in all of my video I shot.
It sounds to me like some kind of motor (ac, refrig, fan, heater etc.) in the room or in a room nearby, not AC (alternating current not air conditioning) or other electrical hum.

The freq. response of many mics is different from our ears AND human beings tend (via various neurological mechanisms and or because of hearing loss) to not always hear various repetitive background noises. This is why one always, always, always has to monitor location sound through a good set of headphones, starting with the sound of the room with no one talking (the "room tone" or "ambient sound").

The Sony MDR-7506s are widely used for this purpose.
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