Jump to content


Photo

Interview Tips + Camera Help


  • Please log in to reply
9 replies to this topic

#1 Noah Chatham

Noah Chatham

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 6 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Boulder Colorado

Posted 07 March 2017 - 12:29 PM

Hey everyone,

I'm making a documentary as my senior project and I need to do some interviews. I have experience with interviews already but I just wanted a few more tips to make it look more professional. It's going to be based around travel.

 

Ex. Angles, distance, location, etc. 

 

Also I have a Canon 5D Mark II that I've been using. The tech is really outdated but it does give good shots. I'm wondering if I should sell it and try to get a more video orientated camera. I was thinking the T6i.

 

Thank you :)


  • 0

#2 Macks Fiiod

Macks Fiiod
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 747 posts
  • Director
  • Og from DC, Now in NJ

Posted 07 March 2017 - 12:57 PM

A 5D 2 unloaded on eBay should probably get you very close into the range of a Blackmagic pocket camera, will capture much more data than any Canon/Nikon DSLR on the market. T6i isn't a horrible camera, but it's still primarily designed for photography.

 

I believe a used Sony F3 ($1800 nowadays) is the next cheapest option to the BMPCC. Image quality not nearly as good, but is actually shaped like a video camera with a nice variety of ins/outs.

 

For interview angles I've always just gone by what the general "look" is for things winning awards and add my own personal tweaks here and there. Finding very spacial locations without a lot of reverb makes it easy for both visual composition AND audio recording. That location in itself is hard to find though. A library after hours is ideal if you don't have your own studio to work with. Big areas to get freedom of lens selection as well as bookshelves everywhere dampening audio reflections.


  • 1

#3 Satsuki Murashige

Satsuki Murashige
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3261 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • San Francisco, CA

Posted 07 March 2017 - 01:02 PM

Do you have some sample frames of interviews you have already shot? That would probably help us give you more specific advice.

Finding a good location is the most important thing. If it's in a noisy area, or there is a lot of foot traffic, it may not work (unless that is the specific point of the interview). But generally, you want to be able to get clear audio of the subject. Good sound is more important for an interview than a beautiful shot. That said, hopefully you can pick one that also has an interesting background with depth and some modulation of light.

Having at least one soft keylight gives you more flexibility in location choices, though for some projects you have to improvise. Without it, you'll have to place your subject next to a large window or by a table lamp.

Define a style for the project and stick to it. If the look is locked down on a tripod with the subject well-lit and looking just off-camera, it's going to be jarring if you switch to handheld camera with the subject looking behind the camera. Sometimes, that can be appropriate for a specific story but it should be intentional.

Everything else is pretty much up to you. I've worked on interviews shot with a 14mm lens less than 2' away from a subject looking directly into the lens, and some with three cameras all squished together, or sometimes off at a 90 degree angle. Or sometimes just following the subject around with a handheld camera. Most of them are done with two cameras on tripods, one medium slightly off-axis, one close-up at an angle, or vice versa.

Usually, simpler is better (as long as the content is interesting).
  • 1

#4 Noah Chatham

Noah Chatham

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 6 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Boulder Colorado

Posted 07 March 2017 - 03:20 PM

Thank Macks and Satsuki. I don't have any sample footage currently, I was just hoping for some tips before I actually started shooting. Thanks again :)


  • 0

#5 Noah Chatham

Noah Chatham

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 6 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Boulder Colorado

Posted 07 March 2017 - 03:27 PM

Do you have some sample frames of interviews you have already shot? That would probably help us give you more specific advice.

Finding a good location is the most important thing. If it's in a noisy area, or there is a lot of foot traffic, it may not work (unless that is the specific point of the interview). But generally, you want to be able to get clear audio of the subject. Good sound is more important for an interview than a beautiful shot. That said, hopefully you can pick one that also has an interesting background with depth and some modulation of light.

Having at least one soft keylight gives you more flexibility in location choices, though for some projects you have to improvise. Without it, you'll have to place your subject next to a large window or by a table lamp.

Define a style for the project and stick to it. If the look is locked down on a tripod with the subject well-lit and looking just off-camera, it's going to be jarring if you switch to handheld camera with the subject looking behind the camera. Sometimes, that can be appropriate for a specific story but it should be intentional.

Everything else is pretty much up to you. I've worked on interviews shot with a 14mm lens less than 2' away from a subject looking directly into the lens, and some with three cameras all squished together, or sometimes off at a 90 degree angle. Or sometimes just following the subject around with a handheld camera. Most of them are done with two cameras on tripods, one medium slightly off-axis, one close-up at an angle, or vice versa.

Usually, simpler is better (as long as the content is interesting).

Thanks, this will help a lot! I've decided to use the studio here at the school to use for organizations and professionals. Then for friends and family I think I'll do something outdoor with a lot of natural light. What do you think?


  • 0

#6 Noah Chatham

Noah Chatham

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 6 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Boulder Colorado

Posted 07 March 2017 - 03:39 PM

A 5D 2 unloaded on eBay should probably get you very close into the range of a Blackmagic pocket camera, will capture much more data than any Canon/Nikon DSLR on the market. T6i isn't a horrible camera, but it's still primarily designed for photography.

 

I believe a used Sony F3 ($1800 nowadays) is the next cheapest option to the BMPCC. Image quality not nearly as good, but is actually shaped like a video camera with a nice variety of ins/outs.

 

For interview angles I've always just gone by what the general "look" is for things winning awards and add my own personal tweaks here and there. Finding very spacial locations without a lot of reverb makes it easy for both visual composition AND audio recording. That location in itself is hard to find though. A library after hours is ideal if you don't have your own studio to work with. Big areas to get freedom of lens selection as well as bookshelves everywhere dampening audio reflections.

Jeez that camera is small! I'm surprised how well the footage comes out. I think it will be great for me because I'll be using it while travelling so maybe I'll get that :D


  • 0

#7 Robin R Probyn

Robin R Probyn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1359 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Tokyo

Posted 07 March 2017 - 07:12 PM

As others have said.. dont forget about good audio.. what they are saying is the most important thing ultimately .. and visual "style" can be anything you want or feel fits the subject matter..

 

But some basic things I would say ..

 

Always try to bring your subject away from the background.. eg.. never shoot right up against a wall,book self, etc.. bring the subject out into the room..   you,ll get shadows from you lights and no depth at all .. 

 

I would usually try to shoot into a corner of a room.. rather than just a flat wall.. also helps with adding some depth to back ground.. 

 

At least have one soft light with a soft box or diffusion frame.. a small "soft' light will still give you hard shadows.. bigger the source i.e. the front of the diffusion .. and closest to your subject .. softer the light will be.. as a general rule this looks better if your subject is looking towards that soft light.. rather than away from it.. Rembrandt painting s is a good reference for classic 3/4 soft light

 

Decide if your subject will look down the lens or just off.. very different end effect.. one is talking directly to the viewer.. the off camera style.. the viewer is listening in on a conversation.. (dont let your interviewer talk all over the subjects answers .. alot of journalists do this !)

 

Would agree the f3.. or even fs7 Mk1 are quite cheap these days.. or rent.. trouble with alot of DSLR camera,s is audio.. the electronics inside is not very good and the inputs are not professional .. many an interview with unusable sound from those camera,s.. beware..  if you can shoot 4K ... presuming HD delivery you can change frame size in post.. and stick with one fast prime lens..  cheap zooms are usually around f4 or even 5.6 !


Edited by Robin R Probyn, 07 March 2017 - 07:13 PM.

  • 0

#8 Noah Chatham

Noah Chatham

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 6 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Boulder Colorado

Posted 07 March 2017 - 09:41 PM

As others have said.. dont forget about good audio.. what they are saying is the most important thing ultimately .. and visual "style" can be anything you want or feel fits the subject matter..
 
But some basic things I would say ..
 
Always try to bring your subject away from the background.. eg.. never shoot right up against a wall,book self, etc.. bring the subject out into the room..   you,ll get shadows from you lights and no depth at all .. 
 
I would usually try to shoot into a corner of a room.. rather than just a flat wall.. also helps with adding some depth to back ground.. 
 
At least have one soft light with a soft box or diffusion frame.. a small "soft' light will still give you hard shadows.. bigger the source i.e. the front of the diffusion .. and closest to your subject .. softer the light will be.. as a general rule this looks better if your subject is looking towards that soft light.. rather than away from it.. Rembrandt painting s is a good reference for classic 3/4 soft light
 
Decide if your subject will look down the lens or just off.. very different end effect.. one is talking directly to the viewer.. the off camera style.. the viewer is listening in on a conversation.. (dont let your interviewer talk all over the subjects answers .. alot of journalists do this !)
 
Would agree the f3.. or even fs7 Mk1 are quite cheap these days.. or rent.. trouble with alot of DSLR camera,s is audio.. the electronics inside is not very good and the inputs are not professional .. many an interview with unusable sound from those camera,s.. beware..  if you can shoot 4K ... presuming HD delivery you can change frame size in post.. and stick with one fast prime lens..  cheap zooms are usually around f4 or even 5.6 !

Wow thank you so much for all those interview tips. I didn't realize how much you have to think about with interviews.
  • 0

#9 Satsuki Murashige

Satsuki Murashige
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3261 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • San Francisco, CA

Posted 07 March 2017 - 11:18 PM

Then for friends and family I think I'll do something outdoor with a lot of natural light. What do you think?


Outdoor interviews are tricky. There's usually more noise, more wind, and the light changes constantly. So if it's a great evocative background, and you can control the light, and it is reasonably quiet, then go for it.

Otherwise, you'll have a lot more control shooting inside. Here are a few very low-budget interview setups I shot a few months ago for the Salvation Army:

Direct address to camera:
IMG_4420.PNG

Standard two-camera interview:
IMG_4421.PNG

These were shot very quickly in about 20 minutes each, including setup time. There's no additional lighting involved, just an existing table lamp as key and an overhead chandelier as ambience for Senator Dianne Feinstein, and a chair placed by a window as key for former Mayor Frank Jordan. The camera is just a 5DMk3 with Contax Zeiss primes, and a wireless lavelier mic plugged directly into the camera. So these things can be done very economically if you plan it out well and make the best of what you have.

Here's the finished video: https://youtu.be/kxXpIbvG5EI
I didn't have enough file space to post a frame grab of the wider interview angle, but you can see it in the video. I did not shoot the Maria Shriver interview portion. I think you can see some of the issues that shooting outside caused for them. Nothing that can't be worked around, but it would require some pre-planning.
  • 0

#10 Satsuki Murashige

Satsuki Murashige
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3261 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • San Francisco, CA

Posted 07 March 2017 - 11:20 PM

Here's the second interview angle:

IMG_4425.PNG

I believe this was the client's 5D Mk2.
  • 0


Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Rig Wheels Passport

Glidecam

Quantum Music Works

ZoomCrane

Ritter Battery

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Abel Cine

The Slider

Tai Audio

Visual Products

Pro 8mm

CineLab

Paralinx LLC

Willys Widgets

FJS International, LLC

CineTape

Technodolly

Metropolis Post

rebotnix Technologies

Zylight

Pro 8mm

Willys Widgets

Rig Wheels Passport

Abel Cine

Aerial Filmworks

Ritter Battery

FJS International, LLC

Visual Products

Paralinx LLC

rebotnix Technologies

ZoomCrane

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Technodolly

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

CineTape

Tai Audio

CineLab

Zylight

Glidecam

Quantum Music Works

The Slider

Metropolis Post