How to setup a basic interview for recording purposes.
By: Rachel Ciehoski
1. Don’t assume you know how to spell the interviewee’s name.
Even the simplest of names, DOUBLE CHECK. Recently while creating a social media post, I was interviewing a dressmaker/seamstress/consultant who is vital in making period pieces authentic. She handed me her business card. It spelled out JUDI. I would have easily made the mistake of spelling it JUDY, as would anyone else. Making a careless mistake like this could cost you a whole lot. While the camera is on ask the interviewee’s name prior to the formal interview and ask them to spell it out. This way you have it recorded if you forget or need assistance. Also, remember to double check their official title and company name before creating a lower third.
2. Create a depth of field.
Before pressing record, you must make sure there’s a depth of field to the interview shot. You can create this by making sure you have overhead lighting. Never place the interviewee right in front of a wall, this gives the audience no dimensions. While taping, you can preset your lighting to create shadows which will create a depth of field
3. Hide the microphone cords.
Visible mic cords in any interview shot looks messy and unorganized. Ask the interviewee to wear a button up shirt so they can pull the cord underneath the shirt through the top button hole and place on collar. This is the best way to hide those impossible mic cords. If your talent is not wearing a button up shirt, then a jacket lapel or collar will also work. Make sure any hair or jewelry is not in in any contact with the mic itself. Any sudden movement may cause friction and mess up the audio of the whole interview. Audio is most important.
4. Check the background.
Always make sure there are no stray papers, water bottles, or anything to make the frame look unorganized. Double check and recheck the background while the interviewee is sitting or standing where they will be for the formal interview. If a plant looks like it’s coming out of their head, then move the plant. Sounds simple, but this are mistakes people commonly miss and they cannot be fixed in the editing process.
5. Keep a record of what time each question is asked.
For editing purposes, it’s good to know what time of the recording each question was asked. That way the editor doesn’t have to search through the interview footage for one part they are looking for. In other words, if possible, ask your questions in order.
6. Bring blotting sheets.
In case the interviewee forgets to bring their powder foundation, bring some blotting sheets they are cheap and soak up the oils the face naturally produces. The lights on their face accentuates any shiny spots, so for a good look on camera provide these oil blotters. Even men need to be blotted too!
7. Make the interviewee feel comfortable.
Get to know them prior to the formal interview, whether it’s meeting before the date of the recording or it’s fifteen minutes before while setting up, be kind to them and make them feel comfortable. This way they will answer the questions in a more natural, conversational tone.
8. Don’t interrupt the interviewee and be reticent.
It is natural to respond with “mhmm” to their answers, instead gesture an affirming head nod. This way you’re not interrupting the quality responses with pointless audio that will have to be edited out later.