Parker Walbeck details his process for setting up his interviews

For those who want to improve the overall quality of the interviews they shoot, YouTube filmmaker and mentor Parker Walbeck has a few tips to help in his latest job shadow video.

In his video, Walbeck goes step by step through his process of shooting an interview while taking us behind the scenes on an actual shoot. It’s a great hands-on lesson that can teach video enthusiasts the ropes and give seasoned professionals a good refresher course.

Walback packs a lot of useful information in the this video, so here’s some of the major steps he takes to perfecting his interview set up:

Pick your location based on compositional value

“First thing I do, I walk in and I say ‘alright, where do I want to set up my interview,” Walbeck says at the start of the video. “Mostly what I’m looking for is good lighting and good leading lines — good composition.”

You can ask your interviewee tons of insightful questions, but if the composition of the video isn’t top-notch, it will hurt the overall quality of your interview. To avoid this, think about the composition of your shot. Is there depth? Are you using the surrounding leading lines to your advantage? Is the lighting set appropriately?

Really nailing the composition of an interview ensures that the visual backbone of the video is solid and won’t distract or turn off viewers. If there are things in the background distracting from the interviewee, remove them. Use the rule of thirds, too, when framing the subject. Walbeck suggests that if you choose to have your interviewee centered, have him or her look directly into the camera. Also if you decide to frame the subject to right or left of the frame, have him or her facing the side of the frame with more space, giving them breathing room in the shot.

Setup your lights accordingly

Because of variations in the locations you can use to shoot your interview, there’s no real single setting you can go by. For instance, setting up lights in a studio will be different to shooting out at the park.

Generally, interviews use the common three-point light setup because it gives a consistent, pleasant look to the subjects. The highlights are just right and the shadows are soft.

You can learn basic about three-point lights reading our How To guide.

Place the audio at conversational distance from the subject

Video guest, audio professional extraordinaire Brenden Bytheway, says that it’s a common mistake to have to mic too far away from the subject. It’s also a common mistake to have the mic to close to the subject. He suggests placing the mic about where you would be if you were having a normal conversation with the person you’re interviewing: about 6 to 14 inches away.

Interviewing tips

Shooting a good interview isn’t all about set up and gear. If the subject your interviewing isn’t comfortable, it will ruin even the most gorgeous looking shot. To prevent this from happening, have them looking at an actual human being, not a camera. It can be daunting to a person to talk directly into a camera; relax things and have a conversation with him or her.

You can also prepare questions, which is good to do, but Walbeck says that you shouldn’t solely stick to them. If you want to have an organic conversation with your interviewee, you can’t be reading off a list. You have to literally vibe with them and listen to what they’re saying. You probably will come up with better questions to ask when you hear the answers you get, making for a more engaging interview to watch.

If you want to learn how to ask great interview questions, check out our in-depth article on the topic.

Keep these steps in mind the next time you go to shoot an interview and you will without a doubt see great results!

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