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Angle is Everything: Finding the Best Camera Placement for Interviews

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Are you preparing to use one or more interviews as the backbone for your next Orlando video production? Interviews are an easy way to clearly and efficiently offer information to your audience. They are also perfect for a variety of production types, including documentaries, corporate videos, product demonstrations, infomercials, and other marketing tools. Information will not be so simple to transmit, however, if your video angle is off. Shots that are too close, distracting, stagnate, or poorly lit will be more likely to turn your audience away than to engage them in your subject. Here are some production tips for setting up the perfect angle for your next interview:

 

Set the Stage

Before filming, choose your location and make sure your video’s background will be free of unwanted interruptions or distractions. Some movement in the background is fine, especially if you are shooting on location outdoors, but too much commotion will distract your viewers. At the same time, however, a background that is too plain can seem boring or dry.

 

Instead of filming in front of a blank wall, consider how you can subtly add to your interview subject’s surroundings. You can easily showcase your facilities by filming in an office space, a conference room, or another workroom. Another way to quickly add visual interest is by incorporating more personal objects such as artwork on the walls, graphics on a computer screen, or shelves of books. Choosing specific, natural props can help enhance your video’s story while helping your audience connect to the person onscreen.

 

In addition to making sure your props look and feel natural for the scene, you should avoid the temptation to fake a location. Creating a fake office is harder than it looks because it will not feel used or lived in. As viewers, your audience can examine every detail and will be able to tell if something is amiss. Another preparation tip is to make sure that, when you position your camera, nothing in the background appears to be sticking up and out of your subject’s head. Finally, try to keep unauthorized individuals from walking past during the shoot. A little background visual information is fine, but unwanted audio considerations include residual background chatter, footsteps, and other noises.

 

On-Screen Interviewer?

Once you set up the location, decide if you want to have your interviewer on camera alongside your interview subject. Most videos do not include the interviewer on screen, but you may want to consider the option depending on your production needs. Including both individuals could be useful if you wish to highlight their interactions, showcase the employee who is asking the questions, or capturing technical interview prompts that would be more easily understood with the aid of gestures and facial expressions.

 

Composition

Have you ever used a digital camera or camera phone that gave you the option to turn on a guiding grid to line up your shots? Framing a subject within one of the intersections of those gridlines is known as the rule of thirds, and it is the golden rule of composition. While shooting straight on can create a powerful, direct image, framing subjects to one side or the other can feel more balanced, artistic, and visually appealing.

 

This style of composition is known as long-sided interviews, where your interview subject is off-center and looking slightly towards the long side of the screen (roughly 2/3rds). Typically speaking, the only time subjects look directly into the camera is if they are newscasters or otherwise deliberately delivering a message to the audience by breaking the fourth wall. This is typically done for intense or dramatic statements, although infomercials commonly employ this technique to command attention. Directing your interviewee to focus on a spot slightly off center instead, however, will make your audience more comfortable while creating a better sense of balance within a long-sided shot.

 

Your camera or cameras should be positioned at about the same height as your subject’s eyes. This level is known as the eye line, and will help prevent figure distortion and the sense that your interviewee is either looking up or down for the entire interview. Typically speaking, your key light source should be placed on the long side of the shot, with your fill light source positioned on the other side of your subject’s face.

 

Other Angle Options

You may choose to manipulate your camera angles to invoke a certain emotion or feeling. For example, placing your camera above your subject’s eye line will make them look a little smaller on the screen, and it is also often a more flattering angle. Another option is center composition, a powerful story-telling tool that gives your viewers a strong emotional connection to the subject speaking directly to them from the screen. Employing harsh lighting or short-side shots often conveys tension, which may be useful in some aspect of your production. Consider mixing a few shot types for contrast, or talk to your camera crew about the best angles for the atmosphere you wish to create.

 

Continuity or Contrast

If your crew is working with two cameras, or you have the option to film a few questions twice, consider how the placement of those cameras will affect your footage. Tight and wide shots filmed on the same plain, or eye line, will create a sense of continuity and consistency. Placing the wide shot camera closer to the interviewee will result in a very different perspective, which could be useful if you want contrast for added visual interest.

 

Similarly, explore your options for continuity or contrast within the depth of field domain. Filming too close can feel claustrophobic, but it can also create some very powerful images. Filming from father away is good for contrast, but pulling too far away could lessen the importance of your subject and include more background distractions. In general, avoid filming below your subject’s mid-section but do include “head room” at the top of each shot.

 

Do you need help setting up the shots for your next production? Our Orlando video production company, NG Production Films, will help you capture the angles and images you want, resulting in the perfect video for your company’s needs. Call us today at 877-203-2895 for a free consultation or fill out our contact form for a prompt reply.