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Old July 29th, 2017, 02:16 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Charlotte, NC
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How much time to setup a simple interview?

As I'm just starting out, I feel my setup time is too long for a simple interview. After arriving at my location and taking to the subject, it sometimes takes me about 30-45 minutes to setup:

tripod and camera
one or two lights
boom pole and mic and/or setup lav mic
check focus/composition
white balance
do audio check with subject

Is this about normal or will I just get faster with more experience?

Also, is there a sequence you more experienced SPC follow to speed up the process?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

John
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Old July 30th, 2017, 07:31 AM   #2
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Re: How much time to setup a simple interview?

There is really no single answer to this. When I one man band it, for green screen, I request two hours, a regular interview 90 minutes. I am a DP, I don't just slap lights up, I take my time and really make sure that it looks good. Most of this time is allocated to background art direction, not lighting. Moving props, plants, pictures on the wall, moving furniture, etc.

That said, I have been shooting two documentaries I am producing also and it has been myself, one man banding it for a few and many have been with me and with my producing partner setting up too. We have purposely been trying to get away from making our interviews look super lit and perfect, we have wanted to them to appear much more informal. Two Kamerar Brightcast LED panels running on V-mounts, one keyed through a 42" diffusion disc, one bare as a rim. Total setup time is about 6 minutes, plus another 10 minutes for audio for a total of 16 minutes. But this is for a documentary look, that is supposed to appear more naturalistic, would not be a great look for most corporate videos.

I don't feel 45 minutes is too long at all. If clients expect you to set up, by yourself, in significantly less than 45 minutes, it simple, you can tell them it will look like news, not professional video. News guys can setup in 2 minutes. But it looks like news, flat, unflattering, harsh lighting, no background lit, no hair/rim, no finesse, no art direction. If they expect quicker, simple, tell them you need an additional $500.00 to hire a gaffer, then you can be set up and ready to go in 30 minutes.
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Old July 30th, 2017, 11:05 PM   #3
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Location: Sydney Australia
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Re: How much time to setup a simple interview?

+1

Exactly as Dan says. How good a job do you want to do? 2 hours is my average set up time for a properly lit and finessed interview.

Chris Young
CYV Productions
Sydney
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Old July 31st, 2017, 05:11 AM   #4
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Re: How much time to setup a simple interview?

45min for SPC seems to be the minimum before you cut serious corners. As others have commented, the extra time makes a difference and most clients will appreciate/expect it.

I think the trick is not to have the interview subject stand/sit around while you do that. Have someone let you in the building and do it before they arrive, grab someone else to stand in for light and sound check. So when the real subject arrives they feel fresh and motivated, not bored out of their minds.

If you are limited to a fast setup (e.g. senior executive, VIP interviews), make sure you have the extra hands to speed things up. There is a place for SPC and a place where it doesn't belong.
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Old July 31st, 2017, 10:47 AM   #5
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Re: How much time to setup a simple interview?

Another +1 for Dan's comments. I will only add that if given 15 minutes of setup, it's going to be a bare-minimum type of work, with perhaps key and fill and maybe even just lav mic. Given 30 minutes, I might be able to add a boomed hair light and audio boom. Greater than 45 minutes, you tend to finesse the light more, and perhaps even move things around for a better background. I request 1 hour as a minimum, but that isn't always up to me. I've been tossed into a conference room, told I have and hour, and then talent walks in 30 minutes later.

Focus on getting things done in order. Setting up camera first to scope your shot, choose the appropriate lens and mind the background. Throw up the key light, and a wired/wireless mic and you're minimally prepared when talent walks in the door.

My best tip is to find a solid PA, work often enough with them that they get to know your preferences and equipment. The time saved here means a better overall product for only a slightly bigger budget (sometimes as little as $25/hour here in overpriced California).
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Old August 3rd, 2017, 12:54 PM   #6
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Re: How much time to setup a simple interview?

Thank you all for your input and suggestions. I feel better about the time I take to setup now.

John
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Old August 7th, 2017, 02:45 PM   #7
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Re: How much time to setup a simple interview?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan Klier View Post
45min for SPC seems to be the minimum before you cut serious corners. As others have commented, the extra time makes a difference and most clients will appreciate/expect it.

I think the trick is not to have the interview subject stand/sit around while you do that. Have someone let you in the building and do it before they arrive, grab someone else to stand in for light and sound check. So when the real subject arrives they feel fresh and motivated, not bored out of their minds.

If you are limited to a fast setup (e.g. senior executive, VIP interviews), make sure you have the extra hands to speed things up. There is a place for SPC and a place where it doesn't belong.
This is spot on and being said more than once. I do a lot of executive interviews. It is not unusual to do a one or two hour set up (often with an assistant) and sometimes the subject is "on set" for ten minutes. My professionalism is judged by them based on how prepared and efficient I am when they sit down in front of the camera. Their time and looking good is all they care about. An impressive set that is ready when they walk in is a big deal to them. By them I am referring to big time physicians and executives. Rarely I am I the first guy to interview them. Many of them have a surprising amount of time in front of cameras. They size you up quickly, do their thing, and want it over and out.

I prepare for this by booking plenty of set up time in advance.

Kind Regards,

Steve
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