Shooting interviews, 1 camera or 2? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Documentary Techniques

Documentary Techniques
-- Discuss issues facing documentary production.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old October 17th, 2012, 11:09 PM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 469
Shooting interviews, 1 camera or 2?

Hi guys,

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on shooting standard head-and-shoulders interviews. I'm used to simply shooting them with a single camera at a mid-shot, and then cropping into a close-up in post when I need to cut between awkward snags in the interviewee's speech etc. but this never looks quite right to my eye (perhaps because it simply seems too obvious that the perspective of the shot hasn't changed at all - even though the framing has).

So I'm wondering how many people shoot their interviews with 2-camera setups instead?

- How much easier does it make cutting a clear and concise interview together (without awkward zoom-cuts back and forth)?
- Is it worth the extra time/trouble of transporting, setting-up and dealing with footage from 2 cameras?

Cheers
Mark Kenfield is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 18th, 2012, 12:33 AM   #2
Trustee
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Mesa, AZ
Posts: 1,384
Re: Shooting interviews, 1 camera or 2?

I always try to do 2 cameras but it all depends on the budget. Some clients go for it, others don't. Whatever they choose is fine and I make it work.
__________________
A7RII, C100, 1Dx, 5Dmk3, 70D, Kessler goodies, Adobe, Pro Tools and more!
Robert Turchick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 18th, 2012, 11:09 AM   #3
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Calgary
Posts: 27
Re: Shooting interviews, 1 camera or 2?

Another option is zooming in or out with the camera between questions. You get better resolution rather than scaling in post and you can get in much closer.
Chris Hsiung is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 18th, 2012, 01:34 PM   #4
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 6,609
Re: Shooting interviews, 1 camera or 2?

I actually prefer 3 cameras but it does depend on the setup or sitting arrangement and of course the budget.
I like 3 then put the interviewer and viewee placed across from each other. I put 1 camera in the middle as a 2 shot for the master then one behind both people shooting across. I have done 2 camera setups (Lose the master) and with 1 camera but with 1 they better be close to each other (physically) and not step out or lean out of the frame. Not a lot of wiggle room. Generally with one camera I run a 2 shot and leave it a bit loose just in case.
I hate pans and zooms in talking heads.
__________________
What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
Don
Don Bloom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 22nd, 2012, 05:26 PM   #5
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: LA, CA
Posts: 43
Re: Shooting interviews, 1 camera or 2?

The issue you see zoning in after the fact could have a lot to do with the loss in resolution (aiming final out put at 2k). With 4k cameras, you can crop without losing resolution at 2k output, and next year, Sony's 12k consumer chip will let us do wonders in post.

I'd shoot 2 cameras minimum, one as a backup. You can put the 2nd on a slider, etc for more 'exciting' shots.
David Chien is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 24th, 2012, 04:18 PM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Creswell Oregon
Posts: 380
Re: Shooting interviews, 1 camera or 2?

Are you shooting the interview as well as conducting it? Or do you have someone else to ask the questions while you shoot?

I have shot TV news for years. This means shooting a lot of interviews and on all but a few occasions all I ever used was a single camera.

Here is the problem with cropping, no matter how much resolution you have, to cover an edit- Very seldom is the subject exactly in the same spot. The person's mouth may be in a different position, their head could be tilted slightly differently, maybe their eyes are looking off in a different direction. Though it may not seem obvious, these slight differences can really make the edit feel off when you are moving between shots, especially when the shot is from the same exact angle.

In news, we would always shoot cutaways. Something else to go to to cover an edit in the interview. Most frequently this is a reaction shot of the person conducting the interview reacting (the intent listening look). This can also be a two shot of the interviewee and the interviewer. Maybe instead of going into a close up you could go to an ultra wide shot where differences in the person's expression would be less noticeable. If the person is doing something with their hands, that makes a good cut-away as well. Finally, if you have the option to cover the interview with b-roll that might be visually more interesting.

Personally I feel that talking head interviews are, for the the most part, visually boring. I always try to ask myself if there is a more exciting way it can be shot. For example, if you are interviewing a person about their prize tomato plants, maybe interviewing them in their garden as they work with a wireless mic?

If you are forced to do a sit down interview, having another person there to ask the questions while you shoot can be very helpful. Move the camera around between questions. Train your interviewer how to stall for time and make small talk while you move the camera. This way instead of just one single angle of the person talking you have all sorts of interesting stuff to work with.

After the primary interview is done, have them keep talking while you move the camera around to get the cutaways.

Bottom line is it comes down to sequencing. An interview is just like anything else you shoot and needs to be edited- You need to sequence it. Get your wide medium and tight off access shots, get your cutaways, then you have freedom in the edit room. A second camera isn't necessary.
__________________
My Website - www.nweventvideo.com
Adam Grunseth is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 24th, 2012, 04:37 PM   #7
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: LOWESTOFT - UK
Posts: 2,124
Re: Shooting interviews, 1 camera or 2?

For me - the key feature is when you only have the talent for a limited time and need to take time resking questions with a reset 1 camera shoot. Some are happy to spend time, and will even repeat their answers for you, while others get bored and fed up, and some don't even understand why you have to do this. I think I'd always do two if time permitted, and if the extra camera was available and not a hire charge, then for the sake of media cost, I'd certainly run it.
Paul R Johnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 24th, 2012, 04:44 PM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Boca Raton, FL
Posts: 2,979
Re: Shooting interviews, 1 camera or 2?

I get a productivity boost during editing when I setup a DSLR 30-45 degrees off axis of the main camera making sure it gets the interviewee's hands. I can cut to that side shot or use a CU of the hands to cover edits. A DSLR rig is smaller/lighter and therefore easier to haul around than a second unit. My DSLR doesn't record longer than 12 minutes so I have to use ML which means loss of a second or so between 12 minute seconds and a little extra time in the edit to sync up each clip. Most of my interviews are in a studio where there's only one angle so those alternate angles Adam talked about aren't an option. YMMV.
Les Wilson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 12th, 2012, 05:20 PM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 249
Re: Shooting interviews, 1 camera or 2?

Hello guys,

Instead of starting a new topic i thought i'd bump this relatively new one.

I have a small job (low/no pay) filming an interview involving an interviewer and an interviewee with a highly regarded professor in his field. It will be a sit-down style interview approximately 15 minutes long.

I have the option of using my Sony V1, 2 Sony Handicams and a 5DmkII with a 24-105mm lens.

I want to use the Sony V1 and the DSLR - is this wise? I want to use the DSLR for following the action/mid shots/cutaways, with the V1 on a wide with sound! However, this setup could all change depending on the room arrangements (out of my control). I also only have 1 tripod and 1 monopod, so using 3 camera's might not be a great option.

So let's say ill be shooting with 2 cams, is the static wide 1 and 'mobile' cam 2 the best approach? As these are academic professionals i'm not sure how well they will react with being asked to repeat questions/answers/reaction shots.

Many thanks guys.
Jordan Brindle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 16th, 2012, 08:32 AM   #10
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Fayetteville, NC
Posts: 522
Re: Shooting interviews, 1 camera or 2?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jordan Brindle View Post
So let's say ill be shooting with 2 cams, is the static wide 1 and 'mobile' cam 2 the best approach?
Best & safest approach is a A Cam CU/MCU of your interviewee (he/she is the reason you are there after all) and B Cam an over the shoulder MS, reversal, 2 shot of your interviewer. Alternately a static, wide/master shot from the B cam would work too. Audio - A Cam Ch. 1 gets subject, Ch. 2 nats. B cam - Ch. 1 interviewer, Ch. 2 nats. Moving your B cam around IS distracting & noisy.
__________________
"The good thing about science is that it's true whether you believe it or not." Neil deGrasse Tyson http://nautilusproductions.com
Rick L. Allen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 16th, 2012, 01:19 PM   #11
Major Player
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 249
Re: Shooting interviews, 1 camera or 2?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick L. Allen View Post
Best & safest approach is a A Cam CU/MCU of your interviewee (he/she is the reason you are there after all) and B Cam an over the shoulder MS, reversal, 2 shot of your interviewer. Alternately a static, wide/master shot from the B cam would work too. Audio - A Cam Ch. 1 gets subject, Ch. 2 nats. B cam - Ch. 1 interviewer, Ch. 2 nats. Moving your B cam around IS distracting & noisy.
Fantastic advice Rick, many thanks. What do you mean by reversal/2shot?
Jordan Brindle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 16th, 2012, 02:10 PM   #12
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Boca Raton, FL
Posts: 2,979
Re: Shooting interviews, 1 camera or 2?

He said "reversal, 2 shot". That's a reversal shot (of interviewer from behind interviewee) and a 2 shot (angled or side shot including both participants).
Les Wilson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 17th, 2012, 11:13 AM   #13
Trustee
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Worldwide
Posts: 1,589
Re: Shooting interviews, 1 camera or 2?

If there is time to do more than one take, I often do interviews using only one camera but using various different lenses or a single zoom lens.
Just film the scene and record similar questions & answers from various angles, and then edit the best clips together in post to form an interesting and visually dynamic interview that looks like it was filmed with more than one camera.
__________________
www.WILDCARP.com
www.NIKON.me.uk
Tony Davies-Patrick is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Documentary Techniques

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:42 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network