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Old January 21st, 2015, 09:05 AM   #1
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Interviewing 101 | Low Budget Tips and Techniques

Not positive this is the best category to post this, but I am teaching a class at IIT (Illinois Institute of Technology) about videography (centered around interviewing and creating content by talking to others). One of my lessons will be about interviewing techniques - and these students will not have access to professional equipment; just camcorders - like many people out there. Keep in mind this is not a videography class per-se. It's about research.

In any event, I created 8 short clips to show off what I thought were some important tips.


Video Tutorials on Interviewing


Any feedback or things I missed would be greatly appreciated. And if there are some of you that just find them helpful - that'd be great to know too.

“I suggest keeping your camera less than 6 feet from your subject.”
“Place the camera near the window and have your subject face the light.”
“Overhead lights cast unwanted shadows on your subjects face.”
“Resist the urge to comment while your subject is speaking.”
“Have your subject state the question in their answer.”
“Ask Open-Ended Questions.”
“Using a close-up is engaging and provides the best audio fidelity.”
“Utilizing the rule-of-thirds makes your shots more interesting.”
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Old January 21st, 2015, 01:24 PM   #2
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Re: Interviewing 101 | Low Budget Tips and Techniques

You covered the basics nicely, but one thing I would have added (in your particular situation) is dealing with echo. Even when you were close to the mic, there was a substantial amount of echo from being in such an empty room. Perhaps talking about room choice (having soft furniture available, hanging some jackets around or even putting a blanket/coat on the floor.
I'm not sure if it was mentioned, but having a steady shot is crucial. If they are using their phones, then a cheap spring-clamp tripod adapter is great to have. Anything to avoid the handheld shake.
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Old January 22nd, 2015, 09:32 AM   #3
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Re: Interviewing 101 | Low Budget Tips and Techniques

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Pabst View Post
“I suggest keeping your camera less than 6 feet from your subject."
My advice to anyone trying to do video interviews is to first conquer the audio problem. On-camera mics, even from 2m away, are unacceptable. As in, I'll get up and walk out. If you can't afford to buy a decent mic, then rent it. But get the mic off the camera, and get it within about 50cm of the speaker's mouth, if not closer. Signal to noise ratio in dialog and interviews is all about mic positioning. And the very worst place a mic can be is on the camera.

If you're a one-man-band, a lavalier mic is your friend. And a wired lavalier mic is not only very much less expensive than a decent wireless system, it also gives higher sound quality and higher reliability.

Good sound isn't optional. Don't teach your students that it is.
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Old January 22nd, 2015, 03:05 PM   #4
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Re: Interviewing 101 | Low Budget Tips and Techniques

Radio Shack lav + headphone extension cable = $40

Fantastic investment for budget interviews with any camcorder having a mic input mini jack. Day and night difference in audio quality, echos are not cool. Never use the camera mic for interviews if it can be helped.

EDIT: I've now watched your videos and those are great for beginners, nice job. One thing I noticed missing from the written rules, before viewing vids - I would include instructing the subject WHERE to look (not at camera). That's a biggy I think. You did briefly mention during "wide-medium-close" but I would drive that one home.

Also, great that you covered distance to subject, lighting, framing, but you might mention checking out the background. Often it is very simple to reposition the talent and/or camera just a little to get a much more pleasing background. For instance, not having a plant growing out of someone's head (or exit sign as seen in one of your clips). Easy to overlook the background when setting up the camera and focusing on the talent. Perhaps not so noticeable on small camera LCD when shooting, but on a larger screen the background can often be a distraction later.

Thanks

Jeff
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Old January 22nd, 2015, 04:31 PM   #5
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Re: Interviewing 101 | Low Budget Tips and Techniques

Cut-aways, the noddy shots. So often on TV now you see interviews where they didn't shoot anything to cover edits, and you get those horrible mixes and weird cuts where the interviewee shudders and jumps.
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Old January 22nd, 2015, 04:56 PM   #6
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Re: Interviewing 101 | Low Budget Tips and Techniques

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
Good sound isn't optional. Don't teach your students that it is.
1000x this.
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Old January 22nd, 2015, 07:09 PM   #7
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Re: Interviewing 101 | Low Budget Tips and Techniques

He specified this wasn't really a video course, and that all the students would have is an almost bare camera.

The point of his tutorial is to get the best out of an interview when provided only X. And in that regard i think it covers about all you can accomplish in such a circumstance.
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Old January 23rd, 2015, 09:26 AM   #8
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Re: Interviewing 101 | Low Budget Tips and Techniques

Darren is right. I am fully, if not painfully aware as a professional in the industry of the shortcomings of gear. I my self own several thousand dollars in audio equipment alone including shotgun mics, lapels ect... Some of these students will be using phones no doubt. This is not explicitly a video class. I'm trying to help them because I know they have such limited resources.

That said there are some great comments in here and things I will add to our class discussion about room size, echo, background, steady/tripod, and additional suggestions.
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Old January 23rd, 2015, 10:42 AM   #9
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Re: Interviewing 101 | Low Budget Tips and Techniques

These cheap-o mics from Amazon.com are cheap, they are 10 for $12.50. I don't think you'd win any academy awards, but it'll be 1000x better than on-camera audio.

Amazon.com: Neewer 3.5mm Hands Free Computer Clip on Mini Lapel Microphone (3X Lapel Microphone): Musical Instruments

You'll need a 1/8" mini extension:

Amazon.com: Hosa MHE125 1/8 Inch Headphone Extention Cable - 25 foot: Musical Instruments

I was always taught that if you shot video without shooting audio, you're only doing half your job. In fact, I worked with a new producer yesterday who was surprised that everywhere we shot b-roll, I lav mic'd somebody. It makes for great audio. I always do it.
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Old January 25th, 2015, 03:58 AM   #10
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Re: Interviewing 101 | Low Budget Tips and Techniques

You want cheap. Here's cheap and chearfull.

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