Whoever the subject is, whatever their area of expertise, it can be daunting to speak in front of a camera. It is of paramount importance that whenever we film a person, they are comfortable enough to come across as authentic in the finished video. Following these guidelines, our team can help to ensure that their interviewees are relaxed and happy with the answers that they give.
Make sure the interviewee is introduced to the crew ahead of filming
A simple and friendly introduction will help the interviewee know who they are working with, that this is a professional space and that their voice and image will be treated with respect.
Explain the process to the interviewee
For some subjects, this may be the first time they’ve appeared on camera – and if not, it’s always good to refresh their knowledge of the process. Explain that we can stop and start the filming whenever the subject needs time to think. Clarify that the footage will be edited down, and we will only use answers which show the interviewee in the best light. All of this will help them to feel comfortable; they’ll know that they can talk and make mistakes/repeat things as much as they want to, in order to get their points across.
Show the intended shot to the interviewee
Sometimes, the finished product can be an unknown to the interviewee, which is daunting; there’s nothing more upsetting than doing an interview which you felt comfortable with, but then watching it back and seeing that the camera angle was unflattering. Showing our intended shot to the interviewee can help them picture the finished product, and will reassure them that we are treating their image with the upmost respect.
Make sure the interviewee is aware of the questions in advance – but don’t be afraid to improvise!
It’s important to use pre-planned questions as a guideline, so that you know you have everything the client wants for the edit. But if an interviewee struggles with a certain question, or decides on the day that it makes them uncomfortable, it’s important to know when to move on. Equally, if an interviewee mentions something which they are passionate about, even if it isn’t specifically mentioned in the questions, it’s good to let them talk: if they are excited about something, the audience will be too, and it’s always good to let the character of your interviewee shine through.
A great example of this is a video we made for Daletech in 2016. Although the original brief was for us to capture the process of a company which made circuit boards (which we covered first in the interviews), when we asked the interviewees how they got into this line of work, they shared some enthusiastic personal answers which gave the finished film a warm and affectionate tone.
Understand that English may not be the interviewee’s first language
Through the broad range of clients we work with, we have been privileged to interview a number of international subjects. If English isn’t the interviewee’s first language, take the time to make sure they are happy with the questions being asked, and be patient if they need longer to articulate their answers. Make sure the interviewee has someone they trust in the room, if they require additional help with translations.
When editing the interviews, subtitles can also be used if necessary, to help convey information to the viewer in the clearest way possible, but the use of subtitles must always be considered and respectful to the subject.
Be respectful of the interviewee’s time
It’s important that the interview is conducted long enough for the interviewee to become relaxed, and for them to share all the information that they need to. But at the same time, our interviewees are always professionals, and they have taken the time out of their busy schedule to film with us. Be aware of how long you’ve been filming, and understand when to bring an interview to a close. It’s always good to have an idea of the interviewee’s schedule in advance – for example, make sure you know if they have to catch a train. If a person is eager to leave, it will make for an uncomfortable interview on camera!
ADDITIONAL FILMING TECHNIQUES TO CREATE A COMFORTABLE INTERVIEW
Even if the interviewee is nervous during filming, we will go the extra mile to ensure their delivery sounds smooth and polished in the finished video. We will always look use a multi- camera set-up when filming. This will give us the option for different camera angles to cut to in the edit, so that we can remove any stumbles in the interview without the video looking choppy.
When shooting multi-camera set-ups, we recommend that one camera films a wide shot (in front of the interviewee), and a second supporting camera shoots a close or medium shot, set up near to the main camera to ensure a slick transition between the two angles in the edit. The closeness of the camera will be determined by the style and tone of the video we are going to make. Here is an example of when we used a multi-camera set-up for The University of Bath:
If the interviewee needs to look directly into the camera – a daunting prospect for many people – there are two additional tools we can implement in order to help them feel relaxed:
This is a great tool which shows the script on screen (viewable only to the presenter), so that they can simply read the words if they feel nervous or struggle to remember what they wanted to say. On large, complex shoots, we can hire in specialist autocue operators through our network of trusted freelancers – but on a day-to-day basis, we can still offer this service without additional costs or set-up times, due to modern autocue apps installed on our iPads.
The ‘Eye Direct’ is less well-known than an autocue system, but it has proven to be an invaluable tool. It uses a series of mirrors (known as an ‘Edison mirror’) to project the interviewer’s face just in front of the lens (again, visible only to the interviewee), so that both the interviewer and interviewee can look at each other while they talk. The result is a video where the speaker looks directly into the camera, but with a more relaxed atmosphere on set, as they will feel like they are speaking to a human being, rather than a piece of machinery.
Dynomite owns an Eye Direct, so there are no additional costs for the client if you want to use this groundbreaking technique. Here is another example of work we did for The University of Bath, this time implementing the Eye Direct during interviews.
Are you interested in having an interview filmed at your business, but in need of more information about making the subjects feel relaxed? Email firstname.lastname@example.org – or why not pop into our offices for a friendly chat?