We’ve been somewhat limited with our ability to interview people in person during the pandemic resulting in many creating videos with Zoom or Microsoft teams which can limit production quality, but as we come out the other side, we’re going to be allowed to get a little more creative.

I’ve had a fair amount of experience doing this and although these tips are angled a little more toward setting up interviews with clients for testimonials or maybe with external thought leaders, they can just as easily be applied to videos you create for internal purposes.

What we’re talking about here is what is referred to as a ‘talking head’ video. These are interview-style videos that traditionally have a focus on the person speaking to the camera and will have a background that is either a plain colour or maybe an office setting that is blurred out a little.

To start with let’s take a look at the equipment you’ll want to get your hands on.

 

 The Tools to Get the Job Done.

 

 The Camera

Things have moved along a lot in this area and to be honest, anyone with a decent smartphone is now equipped with a camera that can produce a great video.

I’ve always been an advocate of the iPhone but what you really want to make sure of is that it has a great lens on it (or maybe a couple if you’re using a newer smartphone) and that it can record in HD. Ideally, it’ll also have a large memory capacity as recording in HD can take up a ton of space.

Alternatively, if you’ve got access to a DSLR, you’ll be able to capture footage with a little more control over the quality of the capture, primarily down to the fact that you can switch out the lenses on them.

The quality of the lens can have a massive change on the output and in most cases is more important than the camera is it being attached to. We could write an entire article just on lenses but what you need to remember is cheap glass could result in cheap results.

You want to try and achieve ‘Bokeh’ in the shot. This is the blurry background we talked about earlier in this piece. Our pick would be to go with a 50mm or an 85mm lens. Once you’re in front of the camera these lenses will bring you closer and push the background out. If you can’t get access to a prime lens, a lens that gives you the ability to move between them can achieve the same thing. Something like a 24-105mm is ideal.

This picture is a great example of bokeh. The background is blurred and you can see it is working by the light appearing a little orbs.

 

Lighting

More important than the camera is the lighting. You could have the best camera in the world but if it is in a poorly lit room, your result will look awful.

If you’re doing a quick shoot and can get into daylight, you can achieve a pretty good result, but you need to remember that natural daylight moves and changes. The longer the shoot takes, the more likely there are to be differences in the footage you shoot, giving you an editing nightmare.

If you can, get into an environment where you have total control of the lighting. This will help to maintain a constant look.

Now, when it comes to picking lights, you’ll want to make an investment in them. My personal setup includes 4 portable lights with tripods that give me the ability to move them around the subject and add light where it is needed.

I have two backlit LCD panels that give me control not only with being able to dim them but also adjust the colour temperature too. This can help add and remove warmth from the footage you shoot. This is what stops people either looking orange from too much warmth or dead from too much cool light.

The other two lights are RGB lights which can again, dim when needed and adjust warmth but they can also change to just about any colour you can think of. This is great for adding a touch of style to the background and can also be used as a fill light when needed.

Positioning the lights and getting the brightness and colour right will take a little time and you’ll want to have the camera set up the entire time you’re doing the setup so you can see what it’ll look like.

Starting with a 3-point light setup is a good way to go. This article gives you a little insight into what that looks like.

This is an example of the 3-point lighting setup

 

Sound

If you’ve got the lighting right and the camera capturing it well it should look awesome but just as important is how it sounds.

The camera and the phone will have a microphone in them, but it can pick up a lot of background noise and echo if the room is busy, big, filled with hard surfaces or is near an area of high traffic like a hallway or a window near a busy road.

Investing in a microphone that can be mounted to the camera is a good start. They tend to be directional and should minimise the sound bleed and instead focus on the person it is being pointed at.

Even better but less useful if you’re interviewing multiple people is a lapel mic. These are close position mics that will shut out background noise and only pick up the person speak. They make a huge difference. They are pretty cheap and worth investing in as it tends to be the one I go for when I am talking to only one person. I also have an on-camera mic for larger groups.

Essentially you need to get a mic. Without it, the sound is going to be pretty bad, and people are not going to stay tuned if the video is hard to listen to.

With these 3 things in place, you’re in a good position to get something put together. The next few tips are on capturing the footage and editing it to look great.

 

Putting the Pieces Together

 

Filming the Interview

You’ve got the camera, lighting and sound rocking, now it is time to film the interview. You’re either going to be doing this with a person behind the camera asking questions and the person in front answering them in a pretty natural way or the person in front of the camera has a script and they’re delivering it directly.

If it is the first one, the person answering the questions should try to not look directly down the camera. It can come off as an interrogation video if they do. Ideally, they should forget the camera is even there. The latter should be looking at the camera as essentially the conversation is direct with the person watching the video.

Keep the camera running. Having lead in and out footage is always handy when it comes to editing. You can always scrap the stuff you don’t use but you can’t get back the stuff you didn’t record.

You also want to try and keep the footage as clean as possible. What I mean by this is making sure that you have a long stretch of footage without mistakes. If they make a mistake, stop them and let them breathe and then go back to the start point and try again.

It is not easy to get this right the first time but make sure they at the very least go back to the start of a full sentence. Editing midway through a train of thought is impossible to hide. People move and blink and if you crop cut between two pieces of footage it will create a jump cut. This is where the footage obviously moves in front of the eye.

This style of editing has become more and more popular due to the rise of YouTubers but personally, when it comes to business videos, you want to try and keep them to a minimum.

 

Capture ‘B’ Roll

B roll is the technical term for all the supplementary footage you record. If you’ve spent time watching these styles of video, the B roll tends to be the shots of the office or people working. It could even be stock footage used to move the story forward.

You want to have this because it can be used to fill in space around the interview or could be used to switch out to and leave the voice footage from the interview playing. It comes in very handy when you have a jump cut, you’re trying to hide too.

The trick here is to just record as much as you can. Again, you can never have too much of this type of footage.

 

Editing it all together

This is the final step in the process and really is where it comes together and starts to form the final piece. Our advice here is to work toward some kind of story. If you can create an outline to edit toward it will make it easier.

Any story has a beginning, middle and end so having it laid out allows you to make sure that the video is following a logical path and is moving toward a structured outcome.

Start long-form and get everything you want rather than trying to fit a time limit. This creates your directors cut that can then be cut down into various other formats.

When it comes to editing tools there are a bunch out there but I use either Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere but if you’ve got access to a Mac it’ll have iMovie on it for free and it’ll do a grand job. iMovie also has apps for the iPad and the iPhone so there are plenty of ways to get a good edit done.

 

Final Thoughts

People love video content and there is no better time to give it a go. If this all sounds like a lot of work (and it can be) you could always hire a professional. If you do, this article should work well as a guide to making sure you’re asking the right questions and putting together a brief that gets you the video you want.

And if you do hire a professional take note of what they’re doing. Marketing teams need to be getting too grips with this type of content, it is going to be more and more important in the future.

If you’ve got any specific questions that you think I might be able to answer for you, you can always drop me a question using the contact form on the website. Just select other as the service and make sure you drop my name into the message and it’ll get straight to me.