Boring talking heads – how to make interesting?

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    • #36859

      I shoot a LOT of talking heads – and I’m looking for production and post-production ideas to make them a little more "interesting" visually. Basically, these are salesmen talking to a specific customer, so eye contact is necessary. Some of these look like the guys are sitting on sticks, if you know what I mean. I usually have to salvage the production with a LOT of b-roll! Are there any web sites or examples of really cool talking heads?


    • #163707


      Adding to compusolver:

      If selling is the point, give yourself a dose of nationally produced commercials on TV (as opposed to locally produced commercials about local businesses). You will find that distance to talking head is changed at the end of almost every phrase (i.e., could be several times in a sentence). Might start at medium then go to medium close-up then go to C.U. then go back to medium, etc. Also, watch local news; for no apparent reason except variety for the audience (?!?) and keeping studio talent on their toes, the anchors/talking heads are changing the angle of their heads to look at 2 and 3 different cameras on a steady basis.

      Regarding B roll: Perhaps the perspective might be that B roll (normally cutaways/reaction shots/atmosphere/background shots) is really more like A roll, the main point, the product/process/ultra special keen stuff to look at that is the main point for the audience; not someone talking about it; the saleman is not for sale; is he/she? This will take more time, but 1st rate does; adjust your fee.

      As an aside, Im always on the lookout for a unique approach to shoot interviews. It is odd that audiences are totally at ease with talking heads looking to the right or left of the cam, avoiding eye contact with the audience in a sense. It is, however, in this idiom, interviews in docs, an accepted convention. I was recently watching an excellent conventional doc about a unique personality in the world of film directing, John Waters; the docs title In Bad Taste. I think it may have won an academy award equivalent from the Independent Film Channel (IFC). The director of In Bad Taste made the decision to have his interview subjects shot consistently at an angle close to the diagonal rather than the standard up and down vertical. He might have been making a statement with this, or not. At first I thought it was a goof, but it was consistent throughout the film. As an aesthetic technique, I ended up liking the approach. This doc is well done and due to the subjectmatter is consistently amusing and never less than interesting. Consider it for your research! More info on this doc at (internet movie data base); not available at amazon.

      REGARDS TOM 8)

    • #163708

      Let me preface this with the fact I am somewhat new at this and an amateur at that. But I have done a few videos for my company (my real job is programming) that have been met with critical (from our management at least) aclaim.

      There is a product out there called Ultra2 from Serious Magic ( may do the trick for you – Just video the "talking heads" in front of a green screen, then use Ultra2 to chromakey them into some amazing virtual sets. The package has some very nice sets and they also provide the masks so you can make your subject look like they are really there.

      It may be pricey but if you can boost sales, that might make up for the extra cost.

      Just MHO.

    • #163709

      Thanks everyone – I appreciate the suggestions and advice.

      I just looked at Ultra’s video on the Serious Magic web site. That is really cool s/w – I’ve tried keying with Premier Pro, and it the results have been OK, but less than ideal… it may be just me. But, Ultra, combined with what Tom and Hank had to say will give me a lot to work with!


    • #163710

      B roll and cut aways. Shoot shots of the room or their hands and throw them in there. Works every time.


    • #163711

      It’s amazing how our jobs require us to watch TV. But not only watch it, but pay attention to movement techniques otherwise barely noticed. One neat look is the Ashton Kutcher "Punk’d" look. Put 2 or 3 cameras on one subject a swtich to them at odd times. Have one "floater" doing the CSI movement providing close framing and crazy movement. Maybe try a dutch angle or extreme cropping purposly breaking the rule of thirds. It takes alot of thought to pull that off, but the result can be pretty spectacular.

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