Filming a Tele-Interview

by Jun 18, 2020Gear

Filming a Tele-Interview

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.

Preparation

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.

The orange dotted line shows the middle of the image. This is how an interview shot should be composed when the subject is speaking directly into the camera.
The orange dotted lines split the image into three equal parts. Objects of importance (in this case, the speaker) should be placed on these lines for a pleasing composition. Note how the speaker is not looking at the camera and is instead looking towards the center of the image. In photography, this is commonly referred to as the “Rule of Thirds”.

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.

The orange lines show the path that the light was traveling to hit our subject. There was a very large bank of windows slightly behind and to the left of the camera, so the lighting fills our subject’s entire face on his right with light. The large windows produce a softer light which is more flattering as it does not create hard shadows.

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.

In this example, notice that there is a nice background with no distractions. The background is not “plain” or blank, but it also does not distract from our subject. This setup also prevents us from having any movement in the background, like what might happen if you have your office or a window in the background.

TECH SETUP

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.

  1. You need to use Google Chrome for this program, please make sure to have the most up-to-date version installed on your computer.
  2. 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).
  3. If you have small bluetooth headphones, such as AirPods, it is beneficial to use those to avoid echo in the recording.
  4. 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.
  5. Lastly, put yourself on Do Not Disturb or silence your notifications so that you aren’t interrupted while being interviewed.

Past Posts

Colin Glenn

Colin Glenn

Colin has been shooting on RED for 5 years with extensive experience in Professional Sports, Live Events, and Commercial Productions. As a former RED Employee, Colin gained massive insight into the development of these products as well as a deep understanding of every function, benefit, and drawback of this camera system. Through his expertise he has helped hundreds of clients on countless projects achieve amazing results with the media created for their brands, events, and products.

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