One man show… Any advice/recommendations?

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    • #53428

      Hello!  I'm looking to conduct some interviews of local pilots, aircraft mechanics, restorers, etc. for a series of profiles and promos.  I have some very generous friends willing to be my lab rats so I can try things out with them before going on trips for special interviews.  I have several technical questions, as well as one about my overall approach and plan.


      It is a one person operation.  I have two cameras to use, a Canon VIXIA HG20 and a T3i, three studio lights.  My question is, how do I best utilize the equipment I have while keeping it simple so I can shoot AND conduct the interview?  When is it appropriate for the interviewee to talk to the camera?  do i have them look at one camera so i can use more creative framin with the other?  I know the content will be interesting, but I want it to be visually interesting as well.  And I will have clips/photos of them flying, etc. throughout as well.  



      Here's what I'm doing already… I'm giving my first interviewees a set of basic questions ahead of time, for them to e-mail to me to use on my blog.  Then i will shoot the interview, with followup questions and greater detail.  This enable me to: stay on top of current events, grow interest in the topic while I produce the video, give my blog readers an opportunity to come up with follow up questions, and also helps mesh my blog fans with my YouTube fans.


      this sounds like a good plan in my head, but does it actually sound plausible?


      Thank you so much for your help, you guys always come through for me. πŸ™‚




    • #205638

      When in doubt…cheat like hell! πŸ™‚


      If they are friends, it opens some doors as to what you can do that you can't when interviewing a celeb or political figure. First and foremost is a script. A script will let you know when you are going to cut away to a visual and can get away with a camera movement. Set a target next to the camera for them to talk to instead of the camera to set a good eye line. They can be responding to it, maintaining eyeline while you switch to camera b for a tighter shot or a camera movement to add some interest. This way you could set yourself up with a camera on you later or before of you asking the questions and cut them in later in the edit. Also remember it doesn't have to be continous shooting, you can start and stop anywhere. You can ask questions over and shoot different angles all you want. 


      You'll wind up with something that looks like a multi person gig in the end that is also visually interesting. Just make sure you film yourself asking the question in the same environment for a sound match. It might take a try or two to get your talent used to speaking to a target but they usually take to it rather fast and are actually more comfortable with it in the end. I see less eyes dropping or drifting when they do and its a fun ice breaker for someone on camera for the first time. 


      Good luck with the shoot. 

    • #205645

      Great response Woody – this will help me too in my foray into interviews.  You have suggested a "target" for the interviewee too look at – what do you use for them to look at?  And I might be over-the-top exasperating to ask this, but, could you please post a pic to demonstrate what you mean?



    • #205647

      I've used a focus target and a white balance card and sometimes I've used a cardboard happy face, even a stuffed animal. I attatch it to a light stand and I can position their eyes right where I want for an eye line when I compose for the shot. Not sure if you need a picture to visualize that.


      I set and compose camera "A" for the main shot of them and make movements with the "B" cam. Sometimes I will adjust camera "A" for a close up but no to often.


      I didn't come up with the idea, I saw it in a shoot on VH1 years ago when they did a pull out with camera "B". There was a sign next to their "A" cam with a red "X" on it and it said "Eye's Right Here" and no one was within ten feet of camera "A" and no prompter.


      I've used it while filming by my self and I've had it work well with little kids and a couple people that were just uncomfortable looking me in the face while they talked as the subject was sensative and they felt a bit embarassed to talk about it. People just feel like they are practicing with it and thats how I present it. I'll do a run and sometimes stop and show them a clip from camera "B" and say something like " Look how natural you look" and that usually sets them at ease and their inner actor comes to the surface. 


      It doesn't work for everybody and like I said, I would never attempt it filming a politician or celeb but if I was in Jason's shoes on a flightline or in a hanger with friends around planes, I would go crazy getting creative with it. I've had worse problems getting people to look directly into the camera and talk without looking all over the place than I have some bland object like a focus target except for kids, they need something they are interested in if you're not face to face with them. 

    • #205652

      Woody is right on with his advice.  Another option if you  don't want to reposition Camera B is just to put it on sticks and get a different framing of the interview. I've seen it done with a full profile shot, and even making that shot B&W in post.  This way, both cameras are stationary and you can be the target and just sit and conduct the interview.


      I had planned to do this on a recent doco shoot, but the room we were able to secure for the interview didn't lend it self to it.

    • #205666

      @ Woody- no pic needed – your description covered it just fine (and BIG thanks for going the extra mile on that).

    • #205669

      Anytime ophelia. Wasn't sure if you were after a picture of a target or a schematic of a target set up.

    • #205690

      I would shoot the questions seperately. Since you are not the focus it should not make a difference, you could set this up before the shoot or after. You can edit them in later. This will free you up to operate one camera during the shoot with your guest. It will make you look like a pro. 

    • #205698

      [quote=fight2flyphoto]I have several technical questions, as well as one about my overall approach and plan.[/quote]

      Having done more interviews than I can remember here’s a few tips off the top of my head.


      First determine the subject and the total length of the interview.


      Then assemble your questions in order of priority and then using those questions write a script around them, a handy way to do so is to use a wire bound white pad and always double space your lines to allow for an easy on-the-fly editing of the script.


      On the left side of your script number the questions and then read off the question and note the time you consumed doing so and note that time on the right, doing this will help to keep you on-the-clock and allow you to pace yourself without having to think too much about time while rolling.


      When live, check off script as you go, you don’t want to ask the same question twice and look silly, and yes some of the best have tripped over that one.


      Your script should also set-the-scene, that is to say camera angles lighting and will it be stand-up or sit-down.


      Once your script is out-of-the-rough it’s time to do a few pre-interview takes, set yourself up (cameras lighting audio and action) and ask your questions on camera, then play it back and watch closely, my guess is if you have not done a lot of interviews you will watch your first few takes and while biting  your knuckle think to yourself “there is no way that crap is airing,” it’s nothing to take personally we have all done it and keep in mind this is why the pros always do pre-interview takes, usually with the producer standing in as the person being interviewed, but since you like so many of us are a one man crew you will have to wing it.


      You need to be as smooth and polished as possible right out of the box because in most cases you will be carrying the interview, that is to say supporting the person being interviewed, if you come off rough what do you think the interviewee will come off as?


      Ok, you have done your takes and you actually like what you see on tape, you are not quite Morley Safer, but you have built up enough confidence to pull it off, so being the assignment manager and producer as well, you book the big day.


      Of course you have done your pre-planning and you have your set planned out in advance of the interview, the background is related but not distracting, the location is as free as possible of extraneous noise and you have your props on-hand.  


      And you will show up early because you know (as the producer) that’s the best way to keep Murphy on the other side of the production door, this gives you time for plan “B” should you find out what was a great nice and quiet set yesterday now has some knuckle dragger in the background chiseling rivets out of an aluminum I beam with an air hammer.


      The cameras are set and ready to roll the lighting is just so right and the interviewee has shown up, so what do you do next.


      The answer to that depends on the time you have to work with versus the planned length of the clip, if you have 3 or 4 to 1 that is to say 15 minute clip and  45 minutes or 60 minutes of production time consider your self a lucky guy.


      If so, then this works well if you are interviewing a person who is not trained in giving interviews for a living, which based on your comment will be what you are working with:


      Take one, cam “*officially” off, go through the Q&A keep it casual, keep it flowing, humor sprinkled lightly can work well, your goal is to calm down and open up the interviewee and take notes (remember that double spacing on the script).


      Take two, wire up the interviewee do a sound check, recheck WB on the cams and continue to  roll.


      Review the take and assure the interviewee “that was great” and while dancing on eggs suggest “lets try this.”


      Take three, same as two with any tweaks you feel are needed and after once again assure the interviewee “that was perfect.”


      Take a break.


      Take four, mix up the camera angles and or lighting but do not change the position of the players as that can hose the audio.


      Done except for editing but that’s a different thread.


      The technicals:


      Audio, an interview the concept of which actually came out of radio where no view is possible the spoken word rules, so if you want a successful video interview you must capture the words of the interviewer as well as the interviewee flawlessly with a minimum of distraction and or background noise as possible, to do so requires you to lavalier both parties to keep the spoken words as sterile as possible, now if you do a really good job of laving your players and in your ears they are clean and clear adding a third omni microphone can be used to provide a bit of ambiance in post to sweeten up the sound.


      * Cams are never off even if for self critique.




    • #205709

      Wayne, thanks for putting together such a comprehensive review. It will help all of us.

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