A detailed how to look at setting up a great interview
Shooting a good talking head or Vox Pop interview shot is pretty much essential when creating Business Marketing Videos. If you are producing material for a promotional video, corporate film or content marketing then there’s a very string chance that at some point you will shoot a talking head. Talking head shots are used often in corporate videos because they are an effective means of getting important information to a viewer in a personal and friendly way. Quite simply, they put a friendly (mostly) face to a large corporation and create a personal connection to the viewer. So if you are considering filming a talking head for your businesses video then there are a few things you should consider to ensure that they are as effective as possible.
Where should your interviewee sit in frame?
When setting up for a talking head interview there are 2 main ways of positioning your subject, they can either look directly down the lens or look just off to the side as if talking to someone off camera in an interview type scenario.
The first approach gives you a very personal feel as if you are directly talking to the person or viewer. However, this can sometimes be a little bit intimidating for your subject and may affect their delivery. Not everyone is comfortable talking to a camera lens.
An alternative approach is to have the subject talk just off to the camera to a 3rd person creating an interview type scenario where we never see the interviewer. We prefer this approach for a variety of reasons. Firstly it produces a friendlier and honest feel to the messaging, the viewer feels that they are listening in on part of a conversation and as such the presentation of the footage feel a lot less “hard sell”.
Another important advantage is that this approach also helps the subject deliver the lines in a more relaxed and natural way, producing footage that feels much more engaging.
A subject looking into the lens (left) has different tone when compared to a subject talking addressing an interviewer beside the camera (right).
Something else to consider is the placement of your subject and the composition of the shot as a whole. For example you could have them directly in the middle of the shot (again a more personal feel) or offset to the side. Having them offset slightly does help if any text or graphic is being overlaid later.
If you have a long piece with lots of different speakers then try having half of your subjects on one side of the camera and the rest on the other side. This will allow you to mix the shots in the final edit which will produce a smoother final film.
What should be in the background?
One of the most important factors you have to take into consideration is the background as this can set the tone of the overall footage. Try to select a background that provides an interesting and appealing overall image. Avoid selecting backdrops that are too cluttered or busy and also avoid positioning your subject too close to walls (this will create a very flat, boring image)
Make sure the background you select is “clean” and that there isn’t anything in vision that will jump out at you once you view the final footage. A lot of talking head work is location based and often takes place within offices, so watch out for coffee cups, coats, loose paper, and general clutter in the background that can make a shot feel cluttered and distracting.
A dark pull up backdrop can look dramatic (left), if you chose not to use one, make sure your background is “clean” (right).
Also consider whether you would like to use a pull up backdrop? Shooting interviews against a black or white backdrop produces a professional and clean looking image that instantly elevates the messaging and can add a touch of drama.
Creating a shot with depth (ie pushing the background out of focus) also helps your subject stand out and adds some production quality to your film. It is also useful if you don’t have a great background to work with. There are many ways to do this but using a high quality camera and lens is the starting point in achieving this look.
How important is light?
Finally lighting is extremely important to consider when shooting Business Marketing Videos. If you’re producing the film in house then be aware that lighting can be tricky and time consuming. When done well it will create an even and interesting shot, however when done badly it can ruin your whole film!
You really want to make sure your subject pop’s out of the image. To help achieve this you should ensure that their eyes are light correctly, and that you have a light place behind them (shining at the top or side of their head) to help them stand out. See more on this in our lighting guide.
Lighting the back or sides of the head creates separation from the background.
Just remember that it can take time to set all this up and (if possible) you should allow at least a good hour before the interview begins to allow your team to set up.
This may seem like an awful lot to remember if you’re producing your Business Marketing Videos in house but often these small touches make a huge impact on the final quality of your film and ultimately the way on which your brand is perceived.