My bread and butter as a cameraman (especially a Chicago cameraman) is filming interviews and testimonials. I’ve filmed hundreds of such interviews, worked with other videographers organizing interviews, and seen many more video interviews all over the web. During this time I have learned some important keys to make a good and attractive interview.
First point, be brief. When I set up a video interview, I usually end up talking to my subject for 30 to 40 minutes. However, an effective video interview with a subject is 1.5 minutes to 2.5 minutes. When I receive a response from my subject that is long, detailed, and feels like he’s wondering with an idea, I let them finish, compliment them on how good their response was, and ask them to summarize it in 2-3. phrases. Sometimes a few takes are needed. Therefore, allow 40 minutes for an interview.
Second, make the interview conversational. There is nothing more boring and flat than reading questions to the subject. As humans, we are social beings. Yes, the subject understands that he is ultimately speaking to an imaginary audience and is only being filmed. However, I have seen shy people open up to me when I engaged them in conversations. They forget that the camera is pointing them and they give me rich and personal content. Sometimes, as a videographer, you are unable or uncomfortable to engage in a conversation and prefer to simply pay attention to the equipment. If this is the case, it is worth bringing someone else with whom the subject can speak (and participate).
Always use at least two cameras. Having multiple angles makes editing much easier. You can easily cut the interview and jump from camera to camera during transitions. Cutting the interview filmed with a camera creates jump cuts that are distracting. Also, having multiple camera angles makes the video more dynamic. Sometimes I even add a little movement of the slider to add a more dynamic feel to an otherwise static shot.
The sound quality is huge. In my video production I use high-end lavalier microphones. The lavalier mic is close to the subject and you get a lot more voice signal and less ambient noise. Truth be told, most viewers who watch these kinds of videos won’t be able to tell the difference between a video shot with a $ 30k camera and something shot with a smartphone. However, the noise from the bed is immediately noticeable. The sound of the bed screams an “amateur” video. If you don’t have good lavalier microphones, you can use a shotgun microphone. Ideally, you want to bring the microphone as close to the subject as possible. You can mount such a microphone on a stand and route the cable to the camera. The mixing of the sound is also crucial. To get that professional sound quality, you always want to add a bit of compression to the sound, so that the loud parts are cut off and the quiet parts are boosted. I often use a little EQ to eliminate the lower end of the sound spectrum. When mixed with some music, voice that is compressed and slightly EQ will cut the mix more easily.
Lastly, for a video interview to be engaging, it must have something visual to cut through. This is often called a B-roll. B-roll shots are visual scenes that support the story the subject tells. However, sometimes I use photographs of the subject and build a collage that visually tells the story. When I make this type of collage, I actually prefer photos that are not taken professionally, as they better represent the reality of the person being interviewed.
In short, video interviews should be reduced to approximately 2 minutes, they should be conversational, recorded with good sound and with multiple cameras. When done right, they are one of the most powerful marketing tools for any business, product, or service.