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Videographer Tips: How to “Make Lemonade” When Preparing Your Interview Video Shoot [VIDEO]

Videographer Tips: How to “Make Lemonade” When Preparing Your Interview Video Shoot [VIDEO] Blog Feature

Will Schultz

They Ask, You Answer Coach, 4+ Years of Video Training and Consulting

August 11th, 2019 min read

Those of us who have taken the leap to insourcing video production understand that when life gives you lemons, you have to make lemonade.

But what are “lemons” in the eyes of a video creator?

It could be insufficient gear or a terrible shoot location; It could be an on-camera subject who wants nothing to do with the interview itself.

But first, let’s justify why we take the extra time to make the most out of our shoot location and our on-camera talent.

If we’re just making talking-head videos for our business’ prospects to hear the answers to their questions, won’t that content be heard regardless of how the shoot is set up? 

Yes and no.

The script or outline may hold all of the information that a video will convey, but how it’s conveyed and what the audience thinks of the conveyor is just as important as what is being said.

Even with a three-minute talking-head video, we have the responsibility to maximize the transfer of trust and to help the audience retain as much of the information as possible through high-quality, well-structured educational content.

Today, we continue to improve our pre-production skills with a video from Indy Mogul.

I have my list of YouTube celebrities that I’ve been fan-girling over for the last several years, and this team is near the top of my list.

They make terrific videos and podcasts curated to independent filmmakers and YouTube creators.

They published this video, “How to Shoot Cinematic Interviews” about a week ago.

Since then, I’ve sent it off to a handful of the videographers I work with because there are real takeaways for every production skill level.

I picked up several tips myself that I found to be useful, and when I sent it over to a few colleagues, everyone seemed to squeeze out their own important notes.

If you have any intention of making videos that answer your customers’ questions, then you’ll want to take the 20 minutes to watch this meaty video (with a notebook in hand):


Key takeaways for marketers:

The video equipment “basics” really can be basic.

Yes, there are some extremely intimidating price tags in the video production world, but there’s no reason to get caught up in the gear itself.

Most low-end equipment can accomplish the intention of the video without being too apparently amateur.

In the past, like many videographers, I have been guilty of putting too much emphasis and reliance on new equipment purchases, telling myself that this new piece of gear is what’s going to bring my content to the next level.

While new gear does help, it never improves my work as much as I think it’s going to.

The quality of the end-product falls more heavily on the user of the equipment and not on the equipment itself. 

Indy Mogul has a great video equipment kit list to check out for businesses that wants to invest effectively in their first setup. You can also check out the Film School for Marketers equipment setup here, curated by Mr. Zach Basner. 

Invest in the right equipment first, not the flashy stuff

Indy Mogul also reinforces the philosophy that the camera is the last piece of equipment that should be upgraded.

Getting lost in new cameras and lenses is easy to do, trust me, but it isn’t the equipment that improves production quality the most. 

We want to focus on investing in gear that moves the needle in viewer engagement and retention.

Audio equipment is the primary variable that should first be invested in, followed by lighting equipment. The reason for this is because poor audio distracts the viewer much more than low-quality video. 

We, as internet grazers, have developed a much higher threshold for watching poor-quality video than we have for listening to poor audio.

It quickly takes us out of the “listening mode” that an effective video should put us into.

Second, lighting is key to making a video feel high-quality, and it is often the most overlooked purchase. A simple three-point lighting setup is a great starting point for most business to start with the basics.

Two cameras are better than one

For the production team that has the one-camera setup figured out, the best way to take production to the next level is with a second interview camera.

I’m not saying this is the second purchase you should buy, but to reinforce my previous takeaway, I would prefer two $1,000 cameras over one $2,500 camera.

Two-camera setups can be especially helpful when filming videos for business because often we have an on-camera subject that is not used to being in the spotlight.

There’s usually going to be a little post-production magic happening to splice some sentences together, remove some “um’s and ah’s”, and improve the general look and feel of our on-camera subject. 

Without always either cutting to b-roll or jumping to a crop-zoom cut of the same angle, we will need a second camera to jump to. If your team has some extra spending money, then a slider/gimble would be an amazing way to add motion to the second camera.

It helps to make the talking head more engaging to watch and improves the cinematic appeal, but it isn’t necessary to have a second camera.

As long as the two angles are differentiated and the color science in both the cameras is relatively similar, then the second camera can be executed with either a second tripod or a handheld shooter.

It’s possible to improve your background (almost) anywhere

We’re not always going to be ecstatic about our shooting location, especially when it’s somewhere makeshift around the office, but if an interview in a storage room can tell us anything, it’s that best-practices can improve any setup.

This video clearly highlights the important checklist to run through before turning on the camera:

  • Is there as much depth in my background as possible?
  • Are there leading lines to use to my advantage in the room?
  • Is there a way to shift my subject so they’re opening up to the extra space in the shot?
  • Does my subject have enough headroom?
  • Have I created contrast between my subject and the background?
  • Are there more practical lights I could add into the background to give it more depth and texture?
  • Finally, is there anything else I can remove from the background to clean the scene and remove distractions from the subject?

Not every box will be checked for every setup, but if making lemonade is our overall goal, keeping these in mind will always improve picture quality.

Wrapping it all up: Focus on incremental improvements with each shoot

The one overarching goal that we repeatedly preach when reviewing video drafts for our consulting clients is constant, incremental improvements.

No matter the level that our videographer clients reach, there is always a next-step in honing their skills and techniques.

I’ve made a habit to be conscious of one variable on-set that I’m going to strive to incrementally improve. Sometimes I give myself an extra 30 minutes of setup time to explore other lighting options.

Other times I schedule an additional meeting with my on-camera subject to take the time to build more rapport in an effort of improving the interview. I experiment with the ways I ask my interview questions and try to hone my production skills with different creative angles/setups. 

I recommend that you write down the two takeaways from this video that you will try out on your next shoot. As long as we keep reading articles and watching videos like this, we will continue to improve on the content we create. 

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