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Old November 1st, 2009, 08:15 AM   #1
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Interview Angles:

Hello,

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.

Thanks!,

Simon
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Old November 1st, 2009, 09:14 AM   #2
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I normally do the second option and get the interviewee to answer in full for corporate videos.

In terms of angles for both scenarios I would set up the camera so the person was framed on the left or right (use thirds rule) then I would interview on the opposite side, so there eye line goes across the frame. If Im doing the interview I normally place them more to the right of the frame so I interview on the left hand side of the camera. I do this because it allows me to see the camera LCD during the interview. If someone else is interviewing it doesnt really matter.

If the interviewer is an important part of the video, e.g. the presenter, then you could have them on camera with the interviewee or record some reaction shots from the interviewer after the interview which you can add during the edit.
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Old November 1st, 2009, 09:21 AM   #3
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Sitting screen right and looking to the left if they're the good guys, sitting screen left looking right if they ain't (bankers, vivisectionists, oilmen, divorce lawyers).
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 07:50 AM   #4
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LOL!

Thanks for the advice guys.

I will try it out.

So it is not good to have them look at the camera if you never see interviewer?

thanks again,

Simon
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 08:11 AM   #5
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The closer their eyeline is to the camera, the more "intimate" their conversation with the audience. Looking straight at the camera is a no-no usually. Though it is sometimes done for videos where the audience is the only focus. Things like dissemination of factual information, etc.
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 08:16 AM   #6
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I'll admit right up front that I haven't done many of these but all have them have been cut using option 2. I'm a one man band so I sit with the camera to my right and ask the questions of the subject while looking at me... all until this last one which kind of threw me a bit.

Last month I had interviewed Ken Squier about a long closed race track in northern Vermont where he announced and raced(!). For those not familiar with Ken, he's the preeminent veteran journalist for American motorsports who called the first full live national broadcast of a NASCAR race back in 1979. For those in Europe, he's our James Allen... but I digress.

I set up my kit in the standard way and started asking questions. Ken answered the first few questions by looking straight into the lens. That's not surprising given his years in front of a camera, but I didn't expect it. As the 20 minute interview progressed, he started responding more to me and less to the lens which let me use the locked B camera's shots a bit more. Overall I got some good stuff but if I'd asked him to look either at me or the camera at the start, I would have gotten more consistent visual results.

Or you could just say that I was too chicken to try and direct someone of his stature, and you'd be right.
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 09:28 AM   #7
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Interesting!

So it seems like the norm is to have the interviewee sit near the right or left side and have the interviewer ask questions next to the camera. The interviewee should be looking at the interviewer the whole time across the frame as someone mentioned here.

Thanks for all the good advice.

Simon
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 10:23 AM   #8
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Hi Simon,

I don't do corporate stuff, only short & long docs
(one-man-band mode) but here are my two cents:
I explicitly ask the interviewee NOT to "talk to the camera",
but to me (I'm sitting close to the camera, left or right,
depending on the interviewee's position). I strongly feel
that talking to a human being is a much more natural thing
to do than talking to a dark piece of glass: you'll end up
having a deeper connection with your interviewee, a stronger
bond, a more intense interaction, and thus much better answers.
Whether or not your questions will be heard is, IMHO, irrelevant.
Here's a short and humble example (it's a very "light" story,
not necessarily representative of the kind of stories I usually do,
but it's the only thing I have available in English...):
Helvetia, WV News (Hel-VEE-shah) Helvetia, West Virginia - A Short Story by Vasco Dones
Hope this helps...

Best

Vasco
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 02:32 PM   #9
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Hello,

Great advice from everyone.

It makes sense. I will try out the new methods mentioned in this thread.

Thanks again everyone,

Simon
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Old November 3rd, 2009, 05:14 AM   #10
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Scenario 2 would be what I would aim for. It's a little harder to do right but I think it looks (and sounds) a lot better. You can always use Scenario 1 as a backup if you don't get what you need.

And make sure you get the subject to answer in full sentences. Consider the following situation:

Q: What's your favorite number?
A: 763

That doesn't give much to work with in the editroom.

A: My favorite number is 763 because... [insert reason]

Gives you a lot more to choose from and lets you use either some or all of the dialogue instead of none. Sometimes it's as simple as asking "and why?" to a question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
The closer their eyeline is to the camera, the more "intimate" their conversation with the audience. Looking straight at the camera is a no-no usually.
This is a very good point. If you have a particularly deep subject, having an eyeline close to the camera can be rather confronting, and that's what some people go for.
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Old November 9th, 2009, 03:32 AM   #11
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Vasco loved your video.
Question: we gotta interview an huge group of old veterans of the II worldwidewar, then well' put all this footage on archive historical museum. I was planning to go for the second option as i always do for my interviews, but somebody (anthropogues told me that is not a good idea, they have to look straight to the camera), what's your point of view about my footage?

thx
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Old November 9th, 2009, 07:12 AM   #12
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Hola Marcus,

well, who am I to argue with anthropologists?

And yet: don't have the interviewees talk to
that dark piece of glass!: it's not going to work.
Have the interviewer sit next to the camera,
as close to the camera as possible: that will do.

Unless you want to contact Erroll Morris
(Errol Morris) :-)
and ask him for permission to use his "Interrotron"

(quote: "The Interrotron is a device similar to a teleprompter: Errol and his subject each sit facing a camera. The image of each person's face is then projected onto the lens of the other's camera. Instead of looking at a blank lens, then, both Morris and his subject are looking directly at a human face. Morris believes that the machine encourages monologue in the interview process, while also encouraging the interviewees to "express themselves to camera".
The name "Interrotron" was coined by Morris's wife, who, according to Morris, "liked the name because it combined two important concepts terror and interview."
source: Wikipedia)

Here's how the Interrotron works:
Interrotron

Good luck with your interviews, Marcus
All the best

Vasco
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Old November 9th, 2009, 08:16 AM   #13
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Not that anyone asked (really outside the scope of the OP's Q), I really hate it when someone is talking off camera. I wave at the TV and say "Hello! I'm over here! Who are you talking to over there?"

I guess I'm largely alone in this... (Well, me and Errol)
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Old November 9th, 2009, 02:12 PM   #14
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Agreed:

I agree Andy.

It would seem to me that talking to the camera makes it more personable.

But I had one client who hated that we did it this way. I won't make that mistake again.

Some people just like sticking to normal standards I guess.

Simon
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Old November 9th, 2009, 11:20 PM   #15
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I have to disagree with Simon and Andy - this IS my predominant line of work and I can't STAND watching people bore down the barrel of the lens, as a photographer OR as a viewer. Psychologically, it's intimidating and it's hard to maintain a consistent eyeline (without the interrotron any way...)

The key is to keep the interviewer AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE to the lens axis. If I'm JUST the shooter and someone else is asking the questions/carrying on the conversation, I'll shoot from BEHIND and literally ALMOST include their ear - THAT is how tight I am to them so the subject is looking JUST (and I mean JUST!) off the lens axis. Otherwise, I'm as close to the lens as I can get.
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