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Sound makes a story. That’s something I preach with assertiveness when preparing a new class for its inaugural news package. It is just as vital in many aspects of video production. At Spiracle Media in Charlotte, we have spent hundreds of  hours interviewing people in both the athletic and business arenas. Creating a laid back environment is essential when looking for relaxed and useable answers. Here are some things to keep in mind as you head into your next interview.

Pre-Planning

Doing some homework is a must. There’s no need for extensive research, but you should have a general knowledge of the interviewee and subject matter slightly beyond the questions you’re asking. That general knowledge could take your interview to an alternate storyline that provides usable “bonus” sound.

Share Talking Points Ahead of Time

I wouldn’t share your questions word for word, but when possible, provide the interviewee with a general idea of what you hope to discuss. This will get them in a familiar state of mind as far as the material is concerned. It will also help alleviate any anxiety they might have.

Ask Open-Ended Questions 

Questions are critical. You need to make sure that you’re prefacing questions in a way that allows the interviewee to open up. In my opinion, the shorter the better. A dissertation on your part is not necessary. Lay it out more like a talking point and have them elaborate.

Have Interviewees Look Slightly Off Camera
Video Production Interview

In most cases, have the interviewee look at you. This means setting them slightly off to the right or left depending on where you are sitting or standing in regard to the camera. This gives the appearance of an actual interview. This type of shot should be used in most informational scenarios unless you’re addressing people with a direct message.

Lighting and Audio

These two elements are essential to overall quality. If you don’t have lights, situate the interviewee so that natural light is even on his or her face. Make sure to shoot away from windows or other significant sources of light. This will cause unneeded backlight and cause your subject to be dark. Utilize a lav or boom mic depending on the audible level of the surrounding environment. Don’t rely on the internal microphone for clarity of sound and always monitor with earphones.

Have a Conversation

After you have your house in order, the easiest part should be the actual interview. Sit down and have a conversation with the interviewee. Make sure to remind them to look at you and forget about the camera. If you feel the need, interject follow-up questions when necessary.

Interviewing has become my favorite part of video production. You can’t beat great sound as that makes the piece. Keep in mind the story is about those you interview and do your best to hold true to the integrity of their message by how you edit it together. It should be a fun and rewarding process for all parties involved when the end product shares that intended message.