Making a nice interview shot

When setting the camera, the interviewee and the interviewer in the set, pay attention to where the interviewee seems to be looking in the resulting picture. The direction of the eyes of the interviewee is very important: if she seems to be looking straight to the lens it can give the viewer an obtrusive feeling. (It also might be hard for the interviewee to stare at the camera during shooting.) On the other hand if the interviewee is looking far away from the camera the contact with her eyes and impressions might be lost and her feelings and thoughts won’t convey as powerfully.

The classic setting is to tell the interviewee to focus on the interviewer and set the interviewer next to the camera. This will result in a natural look where the audience still has the contact with the interviewee’s eyes but without the obtrusive feeling. It is like following a conversation happening next to you. This strategy was also used in the Aalto Snapshots:

The shot field size used in an interview shots is usually something from a medium shot to a close-up. You can change the framing during the interview to get more variety in shots, but never when the interviewee is speaking since that might ruin good material!

When lighting an interview shot, pay attention to how the person stands out from the background. Besides lighting the persons face, the professionals often use the so-called “backlight” to outline the person’s head. Below is an example image from the Faux interview. Note how the face is evenly lighted from the front right and how the backlight is shot from back left to illuminate the hair. We used two LitePanels LED panels to light the face from the front and one LED panel to give the backlight.

In the making of the Aalto Snapshots interviews, we used a camera objective with a long focal length ( which resulted in a short depth of field ( in the image. Simply put, this means that when the interviewee is seen sharp, the background is blurred. This helps the person to stand out for the background.

Use a tripod to get professional looking material.

Next: Recording speech.