Due to COVID-19 and working from home becoming commonplace, it has become important to find ways to remotely produce content. Although no match for high-end camera systems, lights, and audio; our webcams and cell phones can still get the job done.
Regardless of what hardware is being used to capture an interview or what the information is, there are three major things that can help a remote interview look its best: composition, lighting, and set design.
Composition: Composition refers to how the subject of a video is framed in the image. For these interviews, we want the main camera angle (typically the webcam) to have a straight-on view with the main speaker centered in the view. The top of the speaker’s head should be just a little bit below the top edge of the video (about the width of three fingers). We should see down about as far as the middle of their chest or upper stomach. For a secondary angle (usually filmed with a phone on a small tripod or held by another individual), we want to position the camera off to the side of the speaker at about a 45° angle. They should be looking towards the greater space in the video frame. IE if the camera is on the speaker’s right, then the speaker should be in the left portion of the image looking forward and if the camera is on their left, then the speaker should be in the right portion of the image looking forward. You want to position their head and body on the “third” of the image. Imagine that there are three vertical lines drawn down the video, splitting the image into three pieces; the speaker should be lined up with one of these three lines.
Lighting: Lighting can be tricky… We want you to be in a room that is well lit, but we want the light to be behind the camera instead of behind the person speaking. Many people have a window behind their desk and this is not ideal. The brightness outside the window tends to overpower the camera and ruin the image. Generally speaking, the brighter the better, so find a room that is bright where you can position yourself in a way that you have no windows in the video.
Set Design: Set design refers to the other objects that we can see in the video (in this case, how does your office look?) We want to have a clean and organized background that does not have any distracting elements. This could include things like tidying up clutter, making sure you don’t have employees moving around in the office behind you, and ensuring that there are no objectionable or distracting items like avant-garde art or posters on the wall.
Lastly, it is a good idea to notify the other people in your vicinity that you will be filming so that they can keep quiet or reduce their activities. You should also give them an estimated time of completion so they can know when they can resume their normal activities.
At Chromatic Digital Cinema, we use Riverside.FM for running our remote interviews. Riverside.FM is an online platform that allows us to conduct an interview remotely over video chat, much like Zoom or FaceTime, but it can create a recording directly from your webcam. The other video chat apps (Zoom, FaceTime, etc) all create recordings from a compressed feed of the conversation so the quality is usually atrocious.
In order to use Riverside.FM, you simply need to open the link that was provided to you using Google Chrome, and you will arrive in the interview’s waiting room. In the waiting room, you’ll be able to enter your name and tell the program whether you’re using headphones or not. There are a few steps below that you should take prior to joining the call in order to make sure the program runs smoothly.
- You need to use Google Chrome for this program, please make sure to have the most up-to-date version installed on your computer.
- Make sure to have a strong internet connection (a hard-line connection over Ethernet is best, but WiFi should work too as long as you have a good signal).
- If you have small bluetooth headphones, such as AirPods, it is beneficial to use those to avoid echo in the recording.
- At the time of recording, please close all other applications such as email clients, chat apps, etc. It is especially important to close any applications that may try to use the computer’s camera or microphone such as Zoom, Slack, FaceTime, etc.
- Lastly, put yourself on Do Not Disturb or silence your notifications so that you aren’t interrupted while being interviewed.