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Old April 5th, 2006, 10:14 PM   #1
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Technique for Two-Person Interview With a Single Camera

Though this topic deals with technique in video production, I decided to pose this question in the HD/HDV section, because the cameras are so expensive and record so much detail -- I figure a number of people would have similar interests.

I have often thought that it would be possible to do a two-person interview (interviewer/ interviewee) with a single camera, but I'd never read any one who suggested this method. Today I decided do a Google search ["two person interview" "one camera"] and I came up with three helpful links below. The first one is by far the most helpful since it offers setup diagrams and the most detailed description. So here's a few related questions:

1) Have any of you ever used this method and if so can you share anything from your experience that might add to the ideas below?

2) When you change the lighting to focus on the interviewer (as shown in the diagram on page 5 of the first link below), is it obvious in the final edit that the lighting has been changed especially for the over the shoulder shot, or does it all work/cut-together nicely?

3) Supposing that you had both a good lav mic (like the AT899) and a hypercardioid mic for indoors (like the AT4053a), which is your preference for capturing sound during the interview?

4) Do you know of any other resources that discuss this method?

Thanks for your feedback, Shawn

http://www.gre.ac.uk/~ps10/docs/Spec...Situations.doc
(Starting on p. 3) Rather than require two cameras, two camera operators, two sets of lights, a microphone mixer and an audio person to do an interview segment, most short interviews are done in the A-roll, B-roll style illustrated below. This approach only requires a single camera, one set of lights, and one microphone plugged into the camera. It is even possible—although not too convenient—for a interviewer/reporter to handle everything.

http://videomaker.com/scripts/article.cfm?id=3207
... when the subject had left, the lights and camera were re-aimed at the reporter, who read a completely different set of questions from that legal pad. Back in the news room, a video editor would replace the reporter's original-but-stupid questions with the producer's subsequent-but-smart ones, ...

http://www.akaku.org/education/Class...ion_Manual.htm
e) REACTION SHOTS - An example of a reaction shot is a close-up of an interviewer smiling and nodding. Later in editing, the reaction shot can be cut in the middle of a shot of the interviewee during a long speaking segment. In a one-camera production, reaction shots can be recorded from the reverse angle after the interview is over.
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Old April 5th, 2006, 10:34 PM   #2
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Is it Real?

The problem I have with this concept is the Q & A is done after the fact; even if the questions are accurate the second time around, the context in which they are capture is not.

Exclusive of the mic and lighting problems, there is a dynamic between the reporter and the interviewer that only be recorded once. I know this is old school, but if you are going properly represent the interview, you really need two cameras.

Having said that, you can record two shots over the shoulder of the interviewer and interviewee (don't cross the line) and reaction shots or listening shots. Even here you need to be judicious in their use in the final edit.
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Old April 5th, 2006, 11:34 PM   #3
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I agree with you Jack that it would be best to have two of everything (lights, mic, camera). In fact, some of the best interviews are three camera shoots, but I just don't have that. So, if you can't afford all of that or you can't transport all of that (interview in remote situation), I would like to have some idea of how to use this technique. At least tell me your opinion on the mic question (#3) since that would also be the same issue for a two camera shoot. Thanks, Shawn
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Old April 6th, 2006, 08:52 AM   #4
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What I used to do as a TV reporter was do the interview with both of us mic'd. After completing the inveter we would then reverse angle and with both of us in the shot, the interviewee's shoulder, otherwise it looked staged, I would re-ask a few of the questions and the subject would actually start to answer again (several times I wound up using those responses as they were far better, more concise than the original). Since the interviewee was still present and was aware of what was happening, there was little chance of any "shenanigans."

With some competent editing the interview can look like a seamless conversation.

oh, and as for the nodding reaction shot, in news that was a big time NO-NO... you could not react, as it would indicate an editorial comment. IN essence you as the "objective" reporter would be seen as agreeing(or disagreeing) with what the subject was saying. You have to look interested, take notes, shift your head,shoulders etc to add movement, but neither indicate agreement nor disagreement with the subject.
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Old April 6th, 2006, 09:40 AM   #5
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Some of it is in the presentation of the questions. The two person interview, cutting back and forth is seen as a bit old fashioned these days, and the "noddy" shot is VERY old fashioned and a biot awkward - I think people are getting away of the grammar of it.

It is sometimes possible with asking the question the right way, to get the respondant to give the questions the relevant context and then you can edit out the interviewers question's all together.

True there is a certain dynamic to having both the interviewer and interviewee together simultaenously, but then surely, setting up a large amount of ligting, sound and camera kit will also affect that dynamic.
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Old April 6th, 2006, 10:17 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn Redford
I decided to pose this question in the HD/HDV section, because the cameras are so expensive and record so much detail -- I figure a number of people would have similar interests.
But the beauty of HDV is that it's hardly any more expensive than DV, so ultimately the best answer to your question is still to have two cameras. (Heck, two HC1s cost less than one of of many popular DV cameras.) That said, it's an interesting question if you truly couldn't arrange to have two cameras running, or if say one camera breaks when you arrive at a location. As far as microphones are concerned, the obvious thing would seem to be to put the wireless mic on the person being videotaped, then switch it when the other person is talking.

Quote:
... when the subject had left, the lights and camera were re-aimed at the reporter, who read a completely different set of questions from that legal pad. Back in the news room, a video editor would replace the reporter's original-but-stupid questions with the producer's subsequent-but-smart ones, ...
That just sounds dishonest, and I can't see doing that for anything to be seen publicly.
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Old April 6th, 2006, 10:56 AM   #7
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two person

If getting the interviewer in the shot is important and you only have one camera, I would suggest micing both and then have the two interact. They can walk, shoot baskets, whatever would be appropriate. Shoot handheld moving from two shot to single shot. Establish the scene with some wide shots and use close ups for your transitions.
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Old April 6th, 2006, 09:15 PM   #8
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Nods

Shawn:
Agree with these guys. No Nods ever. It is phony. As I said before, even reaction shots can be risky. I do a lot of interviews now and have to do it while running the camera on many occaisions.

You can set this up with left or right look room for the person being interviewed. I try to get someone for them to talk to. I rarely do the two person interview, it just isn't needed.

But there times when you need two cameras, or three if you want a continuous master shot. Takes money and time.

Maybe I am missing something, but did we ever talk about the purpose and the content of the interview? What is the reason to have two people on camera talking. Can you go over that again?

Jack
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Old April 7th, 2006, 01:27 AM   #9
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Thanks everyone for your feedback - it's especially helpful to know that 2-person interviews are less common. Frontline (www.pbs.org/frontline) is one the best news documentary shows IMHO, and they still use the two-person interview format (with MORE than one camera ;) -- most often they do interviews at the end of their segments. The main thing I like about 2 person interviews on Frontline is this; interviewees can be interesting but a cut to the interviewer (the BBC's Mishal Husain for example) can add more interest to the whole thing especially if the interviewer is someone of stature.

Agreed - the nods would be fake - I'm more concerned about the tech part of this - lighting, mics, setup. I'm still wondering if anyone knows how it looks in the final cut when the lights are pulled from the interviewee's shoulder (especially the backlight) - I'm just thinking that at least that one light has got to stay in place. Yes? No? Maybe?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack D. Hubbard
Agree with these guys. No Nods ever. It is phony. ... Maybe I am missing something, but did we ever talk about the purpose and the content of the interview? What is the reason to have two people on camera talking. Can you go over that again? Jack
Basically, I'm doing interviews for academic graduate level topics, but the interviewers may carry as much weight in the academic circles, if not more weight, than the one they are interviewing. As such, it may be important to include the interviewer (though this might really require two cameras). However, because the field deals with cross-cultural issues I may be in remote regions where I would have to use one camera (even if I owned two - and like someone said above - this is good to know if something breaks down). Furthermore, I'd like to be able to reproduce the full interview and include the interviewers questions since students will relate more to the interviewer's questions since they would want to ask similar questions if the interviewee were speaking in their class. If I were just to use segments of the interviews in a documentary, then I can see how it would just be the interviewee and nothing else. I'm not totally set on everything, but as I said above - I really think that Frontline does a very impressive job on their interviews and their shows in general. Thanks, Shawn

Last edited by Shawn Redford; April 7th, 2006 at 12:31 PM.
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Old April 7th, 2006, 10:30 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw
But the beauty of HDV is that it's hardly any more expensive than DV, so ultimately the best answer to your question is still to have two cameras. (Heck, two HC1s cost less than one of of many popular DV cameras.) That said, it's an interesting question if you truly couldn't arrange to have two cameras running, or if say one camera breaks when you arrive at a location. As far as microphones are concerned, the obvious thing would seem to be to put the wireless mic on the person being videotaped, then switch it when the other person is talking.



That just sounds dishonest, and I can't see doing that for anything to be seen publicly.
You've probably been watching it be done for years on TV - I know the BBC doesn't do it so much on their big shows now, but the regional broadcasters still do it a lot. It's not dishonest as long as it doesn't change the meaning of the subjects ANSWERS. Should the revised questions distort the answers then yes it would be horribly dishonest.

One approach that's used a lot now is to take a wider shot of the interviewee listening OTS of the interviewer, and then cutting to s single close up for their response - you get a nice example of it being done in the Noam Chomsky documentary "Manufacturing Consent".
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Old April 7th, 2006, 12:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dylan Pank
You've probably been watching it be done for years on TV - I know the BBC doesn't do it so much on their big shows now, but the regional broadcasters still do it a lot. It's not dishonest as long as it doesn't change the meaning of the subjects ANSWERS. Should the revised questions distort the answers then yes it would be horribly dishonest.
I was thinking the same thing and I agree with you Dylan. In the vidoemaker link that I posted above, the reporter is actually detracting from the shoot and the interviewee and producer both see it. So, by rephrasing the questions after the shoot, the producer gives more credibility to the interviewee by asking the right questions, which was honest with respect to the intelligence and understanding of the interviewee. The only sense in which it may not be honest is that it makes the reporter out to be better than he was as an *individual*, but in reality the reporter is part of a *community* and that community includes the producer who corporately fixed their errors. I seriously doubt that the goal of the interview was to show that the reporter lacked experience or smarts, so I appreciate what they did since it would otherwise detract from the interviewee's answers. Just my $0.02
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