Filming a Tele-Interview

by Jun 18, 2020Gear

Filming a Tele-Interview

Due to COVID-19 and the era of social distancing, 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. This is a guide to how to set up a phone tripod system and your computer’s recording software to record a remote, or “Tele-Interview”.

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 thes 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. It’s a good idea to 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

Apple Computer

  1. Open the QuickTime Player application.
  2. Navigate to File > New Movie Recording.
  3. A window will appear showing you what your webcam sees. Make sure that the composition looks good and that there are no bright lights behind you. You want to be in a brightly-lit area, but the light should be coming from directly behind or at a slight offset angle behind the camera.
  4. In the video window, you will see a control bar with a red record button. Next to the record button is a downward facing triangle / arrow. Press this to reveal the recording settings.
  5. Choose the FaceTime HD camera as your Camera Source and choose High Quality as the Quality Setting.
  6. Press the record button. You can minimize the QuickTime window if needed (but don’t close it!)
  7. Open Zoom and connect to the call.
  8. When the call is complete, end the Zoom call and then return to the QuickTime window and stop the recording.
  9. Navigate to File>Save and save the file to somewhere that you can access easily (the Desktop folder works well).
  10. Upload that file to the provided Dropbox folder or other cloud-storage link.

iPhone

In our experience, the recent models of iPhone create the most consistent-looking image out of all the other major phone manufacturers. In order to utilize the iPhone, you will either need a person willing to hold the phone steady for the duration of your interview or a tripod equipped with a clamp for mounting a mobile phone.

In general, the more recent the iPhone, the better. You will need AT LEAST an iPhone 6S (released in 2015) or better and will need to have iOS 11 or better installed on the iPhone. For best results when using multiple iPhones, try and use similar models, but if you do not have multiples of the same model then just try and get your hands on whatever you can.

In order to store the high-resolution video file, you will need 20GB of free space on the iPhone.

Follow the instructions below to produce the best results:

  1. On the iPhone, navigate to the Settings Application and scroll down to Camera.
  2. Inside the Camera Settings, choose “Record Video”.
  3. Set the video quality settings to 4K at 24FPS. If 4K at 24FPS is not available, then choose 4K at 30FPS. If neither of those options are available, then choose 1080p at 30FPS.
  4. Exit the Settings App.
  5. When ready to film, first turn on “Airplane Mode” on your iPhone. This will prevent the recording from being interrupted.
  6. Next, open the Camera Application, and select the Video Recording Mode.
  7. Press record, and don’t stop the recording until the interview is over.
  8. Keep the camera and framing as still as possible for the duration of the interview.
  9. When complete, stop the recording and upload the file via the provided Cloud Storage link.

Windows Computer

Instructions Coming Soon!

Other Mobile Phones

Instructions Coming Soon!

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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