How to Produce a Video Interview

What to Know

  • Prepare for the interview by talking to the subject about the information you want to cover.
  • Find a good backdrop, make sure you have adequate lighting, and then set up the camera on a tripod at eye-level with the subject.
  • Sit next to the camera, instruct the subject to look at you, and record while you ask questions.

This article explains how to produce a video interview for all types of videos.

How to Produce a Video Interview

Video interviews—or talking heads—are common in all types of videos, from documentaries and newscasts to marketing videos and customer testimonials. Producing a video interview is a straightforward process that you can complete with nearly any type of home video equipment.

Follow these steps to produce the perfect video interview:

  1. Prepare yourself and your subject for the video interview by talking about the information that you're going to cover and the questions that you're going to ask. Your subject will be more relaxed and the video interview will go more smoothly if you've talked it out ahead of time.

  2. Find a good backdrop for conducting the video interview. Ideally, you'll use a location that illustrates something about the person you are interviewing, such as the subject's home or workplace. Make sure that the background is attractive and not too cluttered.

    If you can't find a suitable backdrop for the video interview, seat your subject in front of a blank wall.

  3. Depending on the location of your video interview, you may want to set up some lights. A basic three-point lighting setup can really enhance the look of your video interview.

    If you're working without a light kit, use whatever lamps are available to adjust the lighting. Make sure that your subject's face is brightly lit, without any odd shadows.

  4. Set up your video camera on a tripod at eye-level with your interview subject. The camera should only be three or four feet from the subject. That way, the interview will be more like a conversation and less like an interrogation.

  5. Use the camera's eyepiece or viewfinder to check the exposure and lighting of the scene. Practice framing your subject in a wide shot, medium shot and close up, and make sure that everything in the frame looks right.

  6. Ideally, you'll use a wireless lavaliere microphone for recording the video interview. Clip the mic to the subject's shirt so that it's out of the way but provides clear audio.

    A lavaliere microphone will not get a good recording of you asking the interview questions. Use another lav mic for yourself, or a microphone attached to the camera, if you want the interview questions recorded as well as the answers.

    If you don't own a lav mic, use the camcorder's built-in microphone for the video interview. Just make sure the interview is done in a quiet space and that your subject speaks loudly and clearly.

  7. Seat yourself right next to the camcorder on the side with the flip-out screen. This way, you can subtly monitor the video recording without directing your attention away from the video interview subject.

    Instruct your interview subject to look at you, and not directly into the camera. This positioning gives your interview a more natural look, with the subject looking slightly off camera.

  8. Begin the recording and start asking your video interview questions. Give your subject plenty of time to think about and frame his or her answers; don't just jump in with another question at the first pause in conversation.

    As the interviewer, keep quiet while your interview subject answers questions. Respond with support and empathy by nodding or smiling, but any verbal responses will make editing the interview difficult.

  9. Change the framing between questions, so that you incur a variety of wide, medium and close-up shots. This variation make it easier to edit different segments of the interview together while avoiding awkward jump cuts.

  10. When you finish the video interview, leave the camera rolling for a few extra minutes. People relax when it's all over and start talking more comfortably than they did during the interview. These moments can yield great soundbites.

  11. How you edit the video interview depends on its purpose. If it's purely archival, you can just transfer the whole tape to DVD without editing. Or, you may want to watch the footage and choose the best stories and soundbites. Put these together in any order, with or without narration, and add b-roll or transitions to cover any jump cuts.

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Tips for Producing Video Interviews

Here are some more general tips for getting the best results:

  • Find your interviewee a comfortable chair to sit in.
  • Ask your interviewee to remove bracelets or jewelry that could clank together and disturb the audio recording.
  • Check the frame closely to make sure there are no background objects poking out from behind your subject's head.
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