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Old April 18th, 2011, 01:57 PM   #31
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Re: Interview Angles:

I haven't read the whole thread, but watch a few Errol Morris docs. if i remember correctly his interviews always seem to be visually interesting.
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Old June 23rd, 2011, 11:00 PM   #32
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Re: Interview Angles:

Originally Posted by Mike Wade View Post
When filming non-professional presenters of information I try to get then to speak direct to camera. Some do a brilliant job, some find it almost impossible. Any advice on how to get the best out of the amateur presenter ?
If I am doing "One Man Band" work with the camera, acting as cameraperson AND interviewer, I often set my shot, do VERY little adjustment during the interview, (will vary someone, depending on questions. Use tighter shots for more probing "Human Response" questions,) and will just talk to them for a few minutes until they're calm.

That big hunk of glass is REALLY intimidating and I've seen it turn incredibly educated people who are world class individuals in the topic they're discussing into inarticulate buffoons. Don't draw attention to the camera, (which ain't easy,) treat it like a piece of furniture.

If I've got a separate interviewer asking the questions, and I'm just on camera, I only look at the interviewee THROUGH the camera VF, I don't look up at them, and I avoid eye contact whenever possible. If the subject's eyes wander about, then they seem distracted on camera, and they can lose a lot of credibility in the eyes of an audience. So, I try to be as much an invisible part of the scenery as I possibly can be.

There's been a couple occasions where I was asking the questions, but I had to be behind camera, and so I got a person to just sit in the "Interviewer Chair" (as close to one side or the other of the lens as possible, depending on if I had them frame left or right in the shot,) and told the interviewee to answer the person in the chair, not me. (Those are the LEAST ideal conditions, depending on the interviewee, because SOMETIMES they want to shift their attention back and forth between the person in the chair and me, the guy who asked the question. They typically remember pretty quickly though that they're supposed to address the person in the chair, because I don't look at them. If someone is looking at you while they're talking to you, and you don't make eye contact, they tend to look away. This is a good thing in this situation.)

In at least TWO instances I can remember, I broke a cardinal rule of interviewing: I videotaped an interview without the person interviewed knowing that I was rolling tape. Now, I don't recommend this AT ALL. It crosses a line of ethics that I don't like to come anywhere near, but there WAS a reason, and there WAS a purpose, and I handle the situation as elegantly and as professionally as the situation allowed. If you ever have to do the same, I would try it, but ONLY as a last reasort. Here's the scenario and how I handled it the first time.

The person I was interviewing is an absolutely BRILLIANT surgeon, and they were INCREDIBLY confident, articulate, and obviously knowledgable. Easy interview, I thought. But with the camera in front of them, they just choked up. They couldn't keep what they wanted to say straight, and while they were doing fine, the slightest pause or "flub," and they'd apologise and want to do it again. They were thinking about the INTERVIEW too much, and not about what they wanted to say. I was running out of time, and desperate, so I asked if he'd like to take a break and get something to drink.

While he was gone, I turned off the tally light on the camera, and set it recording. When he got back, I said, "OK, let's go over what you want to discuss without the camera rolling, so let's just go through the questions, one at a time."

So we did, and he did GREAT.

After it was over, and I asked if he was ready to do the interview, he froze up again.

That's when I told him he didn't have to unless he wanted to, and I told him what I'd done.

I told him that I'd show him what we'd just recorded and if he didn't like it, I promised I would erase that tape, and we'd do it again. He watched part of the interview, and was very happy with how it came out, and most of all was thankful that he didn't have to sit through that again with that camera in his face.

"You should have gone into psychology..." he told me.

"I produce video," I told him, "In a way, I did."

Good luck!
Daniel G. Trout
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Old June 24th, 2011, 04:32 AM   #33
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Re: Interview Angles:

Thanks Daniel.

Your tip about not looking at the presenter/interviewee while filming but staring fixedly at the camera v/f and asking he or she to address their comments to some one alongside the camera is a very good one.
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Old June 24th, 2011, 05:02 PM   #34
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Re: Interview Angles:

I had a situation when there was an interviewer but the talent at the start also looked at me behind the I ducked down behind the camera and sort of out of sight and he never did it again. Made me think that in similar situations it mightn't be a bad idea to shoot through a screen of some sort that hides the camera and operator...
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Old June 25th, 2011, 12:49 PM   #35
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Re: Interview Angles:

I think that "fencing yourself off" can backfire too. SAYING "Ignore the man behind the curtain" is like saying "Don't think of elephants." It's self-defeating. I sort of feel the same way about the Interrotron, and other products like it.

It's gadgetry, and gadgetry gets distracting. I tend to do a lot of documentary and documentary-like corporate and small business video. Therefore, I'm typically working with people who are not accustomed to being on camera. So I try to keep things as absolutely minimal and low-key as I possibly can, especially if I'm shooting in their office or home.

My shoots of this type generally consist of interviewer, (which is sometimes me pulling double duty there,) interviewee, camera and tripod, wireless microphone, Softbox and maybe a backlight, depending on what natural light is like, and that's about it.

Yeah, I could get through stuff faster with a camera assist/grip, but I've had interviewees that end up looking from the interviewer to the grip, (invariably because the lighting guy, with nothing to do while the camera is rolling, is looking at them. So they make eye contact, which causes that "wandering eye" syndrome which can subconsciously affect the audience's belief in the interviewee's sincerity.) Plus, invariably working with a crew, if they're GOOD, they move in and immediately go to work.

The bustle before the shoot sets the pace and the mood, and can cause the interviewee to get flustered, or try to rush through their answers.

When I'm setting up, I do so in a leisurely way, talk to the interviewee/interviewer, and maybe joke a bit, just to keep the mood light and relaxing.

It makes a difference.

Now, I'm not advocating this method with people who are accustomed to appearing on video, nor with people who are just "Natural" interviews, (those naturally relaxed and jovial folks that may have no experience at being on camera, but come across exactly the same, no matter how much gear or how many people you invade their space with.) With them, take the time, use the gear to make your picture and sound the best they can be. Just be aware that there's such a thing as "overproducing."
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Old October 13th, 2011, 06:21 PM   #36
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Re: Interview Angles:

Dear Simon,

I would search "60 Minutes" on YouTube and look at how the do interviews. That's the industry standard.

Always put your subject 1/3 from left looking right, or 1/3 from right looking left. This is regardless of whether interviewee shoulder is showing or not.

I always split up interviewees 50/50 left and right, which looks better in editing.
Erich Toll, writer/producer
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Old January 15th, 2012, 06:59 PM   #37
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Re: Interview Angles:

There are many techniques to shooting promotional-style interviews. Here's an in-depth article covering precisely that

Originally Posted by Simon Zimmer View Post

What do people recommend for interview angles regarding the person being interviewed for the following scenarios?

Scenario 1:
You don't see the interviewer, you just hear the questions.

Scenario 2:
You don't see the interviewer nor hear the questions; You just hear the answers.

The interviews are generally for corporate types of interviews.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.



Last edited by Trent Watts; January 16th, 2012 at 03:20 PM. Reason: fixing broken link
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Old January 16th, 2012, 03:10 AM   #38
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Re: Interview Angles:

Film and video is entertainment, unless yourinterview is straight news. Even promotional/corporate videos should have drama, as well as information.

Being prepared is a crucial part, just as a good screenplay is for a fiction film. What questions will likely provoke which answers, emotional level, movements.

My documentaries often have a confrontational style, which has won them awards and exposure on TV & festivals. I like to build an interview like a story, meaning that I vary camera angles and shot values as the interview progresses. I often use wide shots at the beginning, then tell the cameraperson to use close-ups or extreme close-ups when I get to the sensitive points. If strong emotions are involved and you want to unmask them, do not hesitate to get your subject to look straight into the camera.You can shove the lens into people's noses if that's the effect you need (and if they'll still talk to you after).

Of course, if you vary positions, angles etc, you need footage to cut away with, so you need to plan this ahead carefully. If you include the questions, you may want to tape the interviewer separately, giving you material to cut away. You can then take the final decision in the editing room.

One of the trickiest things is background. Too much distracts, too little deprives.
My rule: background has to add valuable information to the interview, otherwise keep it neutral or out of focus.
Never use B-roll !! but I occasionally use voice-over if I have material which is directly relevant to the subject matter.

A big enemy of interviews is stiffness. Oddly, the interviewer may be as stiff as the interviewee, especially if the latter is distressed or very powerful.
That's why I like to conduct interviews walking, driving... whatever activity, especially if it is meaningful. A killer interviewed as he's cleaning his gun: he might look at you, at the gun , at the camera as he's answering - or just fidget, saying nothing.

Which kinda is my answer to your initial question.
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Old January 16th, 2012, 03:08 PM   #39
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Re: Interview Angles:

Claude, great answer. I mostly do corporate shoots so the setup calls for a totally different approach. I think for documentaries, your technique is brilliant and can convey so much more of the person's character to an audience.
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