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Old September 27th, 2003, 09:20 PM   #1
Inner Circle
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: San Jose, CA
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quick coaching for talent ?


I'm having trouble with many subjects avoiding the videocamera lens. My lens hood is quite intimidating. They like to make eye contact with me. So, to point them toward the camera lens, I end up peeking over the video viewfinder. Any tips on quick coaching for talent ? Would anyone recommend a book or resource on the topic? So far, my talent results are actually better with the cruddy digital camera videos even the though image and video quality rot.

Thanks !
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Old September 27th, 2003, 11:31 PM   #2
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You don't say exactly what type of work you are doing but I'll assume you are working on a film/video.

I deal with this issue every day at the Actor Training Classes I tape. It is the hardest bit of training to do for some reason. To get the person to look at the camera and then hold the pose until the director say's, "cut." is almost impossible for some people.

In hollywood style shooting (single camera) the actors normally play off each other. The off camera actor stands right next to the lens and the on-camera talent then looks at that person. In most productions you really don't want the actor looking into the camera as it isn't normal for a film/video. Slightly off camera is less intimidating and we normally don't have the audience POV in a film/video. The actors are always talking to other actors, either off camera in an over-the-shoulder shot. Rarely do films line the talent up like they were on the Johnny Carson show, all facing the camera.

There is a great video on the subject done by Michael Caine called, 'Acting for Film.' It was done by the BBC and is now out of print. I was able to find a copy on ebay for about $15. It is so good I was willing to pay $50 for a copy.

If, on the other hand, you are shooting a commercial, then it is fair for the talent to talk to the audience. For commercials we normally tell the talent-in-training to imagine that the camera lens is a dear friend/child/dog/cat (whatever they are selling) to whom they want to tell their message. And to hold the damn pose at the end until we yell, CUT!"
Mike Rehmus
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Old September 28th, 2003, 03:53 PM   #3
Join Date: Apr 2002
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Glints. As Mike said, not sure what you're shooting, but I guess if I offered any advice it'd be - it's a matter of trying to get the person to love the lens. To imagine and feel as though it's a real person. To get over that selfconsciousness (Which I'm just assuming is their problem)

Don't know if they're more seasoned people or newbies but maybe shooting some stuff of them looking into the lens, and playing it back for them several times might help them get comfortable with what they look like on the screen. Then they might not be so intimidated. I was so uncomfortable just being filmed, let alone looking into a lens, but once I saw myself and though "hey, that's me, that's what I look like - can't do much about that" I was more happy with it. The baggage dropped off a lot and it got a lot easier.

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Old September 29th, 2003, 01:04 PM   #4
Inner Circle
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I'm shooting sports videos and interviews. Since I don't have the
opportunity to work with the talent, I was wondering if a reference existed that had a list of directions that would quickly
get the interviews in the ballpark. Such as: have them sit,
have them hold a heavy object in one hand to reduce hand waving, stand behind the viewfinder to get their gaze at the lens or perhaps get out of the way and put an object above the video lens and ask them to look at that. Or, at least, some shooting
situations that would help reduce the main problems in group instruction and one-on-one interviews. I notice that the longer news shows have dramatic two person interviews with camera switches between, say, Barabara Walters, and her subject. However, I'm not totally convinced that a lot of the interviewer's drama is actually taped during the interview.

Last weekend, I found that I was able to get better commentary from a martial arts instructor when he was sitting on a couch, but I was unable to capture his usual dynamic body language. I'm really starting to learn the value of planning and rehearsing shoots, but in my situation, the planning often gets in the way of someone trying to make money off a seminar.

Mike, thanks for the Michael Caine film tip. I'll look for it.
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Old September 29th, 2003, 03:13 PM   #5
Hawaiian Shirt Mogul
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you tell them where you want them to look .. down the lens ? your left shoulder ( put something on it) , put a c-stand with tape/tennis ball on it and tell em to look at it ... you're the director ... so pick your spot . ask them what object can you out there for them to feed their lines and feel comfortable. maybe attach something bright to each side of lens shade so their eyes go to it and not the lens when they look around room ?
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Old September 29th, 2003, 04:00 PM   #6
Capt. Quirk
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Hey Gints- I know what you are going through. I was an editor for a website that featured the same type of videos. All I can suggest is, sitting down with the talent/interviewee before taping, and tell them what you want. If you are working with the same talent on a regular basis, it will get easier. If you are always using different people, just go through the pre-game speech and hope for the best.

You can also try taping a little yellow bird, or similar item, to your lens visor. It may sound silly, but they use this technique in photographing children.

Whatever you do, DO NOT RELY SOLEY UPON THE TALENTS LAV AS THE ONLY MIC! As I was merrily editing one tape (First time I had seen the event coverage), the young lady who was the talent was doing an interview. The company was cheap and half assed about most things, so they give her a mic flag on a screw driver for show, and put a lapel mic on her to record the interview. After each question, she would turn towards the interviewee and thrust her chest towards them. This had me both rolling with laughter, and moaning at the show's idea of a serious interview.
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Old September 29th, 2003, 04:25 PM   #7
Join Date: May 2002
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If you are shooting interviews, the easiest way to do it is to put the camera lens right over the interviewer's shoulder.

If the subject looks directly into the lens when you are doing an interview, it will look like s/he is playing to the audience, not responding to the interviewer.

If you put a piece of the interviewers body in the frame . . . neck and shoulder, it will establish the whole setup.

Unfortunately, it takes 3 cameras in a live shoot to get good shots of both the interviewer and the interviewee.
Mike Rehmus
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