Tips for Getting Good Video Interviews

More and more still photographers are getting into video because of the appeal of the hybrid still cameras that also shoot video. Photographers love the visual coming out of these big chip cameras – what’s not to love? But they quickly find out that if they aren’t just going to be laying visuals down to a music track, they will need to start thinking about their audio – specifically a narrative track or one driven by sound bites from interviews. I work in the corporate sector, as well as create documentaries, so I do a lot of interviews. The interviews, along with a scripted voiceover comprise my audio track and drive the story.

I love doing interviews. That’s because I’ve always been a curious person and like to ask questions. I enjoy the “conversation”. I don’t want to become part of the video, even though I am usually the one asking the subject questions. My voice and my questions will not be heard in the final video, so I need to coach my subjects to paraphrase the question when they relay their answers. But before I get to the interview, I research my subject and come up with a good solid list of questions to ask in advance.

Here are some tips for getting good interviews:
1. Ask leading questions – not yes or no questions. Example: Instead of asking where do you work? Ask: Tell me about where you work.
2. Ask subject to paraphrase the question if you don’t want the interviewer to be part of the video.
3. Don’t step on your subject’s lines. Instruct your subject to pause before answering the question. In addition, make sure that you pause after your subject answers the question. Many times someone will add more insightful information to fill in that pause.
4. Ask the question more than once.
5. If your subject rambles – ask them to summarize their thoughts.
6. Use gestures to encourage and guide subjects – remember you don’t want to hear your comments.
7. Be a good listener – many times my best questions are follow up questions to something that the interviewee just said.
8. Pay attention to your subject’s answers because you’ll need to illustrate what the subject is talking about with B-roll.
9. Pick a suitable location for sound. Find a quiet environment and turn off all fans, motors, radios etc.
10. Record room tone – you’ll need it when you edit the sound bites

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