The hear and soul of a corporate video productions is a video interview. They move the narrative forward, put a face to a company, and capture the spirit of an event. Pulling off the perfect interview relies on preparation as much as it does having an experienced production team.
Without a focused effort, common mistakes can occur on an interview video shoot. Those mistakes can take away from the potential impact of your corporate video. Luckily, all of these mistakes are preventable. We’re going to run you through some of the most common video interview mistakes, and how you can avoid them next time around!
Choosing Interview Backgrounds
Setting up a proper space for an interview to be shot requires a keen attention to detail. Lighting and framing are critical for any shot to look good. It’s a pretty common mistake to overlook the frame’s depth, starting with spacing of the subject’s seat and the backdrop.
Placing the interviewee’s seat a comfortable distance from the wall allows depth so that the background drops out of focus. For this effect, you’ll want the subject seated no less than five feet from the backdrop. Just far enough so that the shadow isn’t showing on the backdrop.
When scoping out your frame, finding the right background to shoot towards should be in the foreground of your mind.
While shooting towards a window seems like a good way to get a scenic backdrop, it’s problematic to achieving a well lit interview. For starters, sunlight gives off different color temperatures throughout the day. Depending on what lighting you’re using for your video, shooting towards a window can create inconsistencies in coloring.
The most prevalent issue; however, is overexposure. Shooting into sunlight turns the subject into a silhouette, which will require adjustments to the camera’s settings to get them in focus. Ultimately, you will get a clear shot of your subject; but at its expense, the background will be drastically overexposed background!
Specialized lights are available to counteract the exposure, though they often run in the pricier range. So if you’re not willing to throw down the cash, we’d recommend avoiding windows altogether, or trying some DIY methods.
You Need a Backlight, Here’s Why
Amateur productions may think they’ve completed their lighting configuration once they have the subject’s face properly lit. But, having a backlight (AKA a Hairlight) is an indispensable tool for making a subject look great on camera! Without one handy, your scene may look flat and one-dimensional. So, once you have your depth all figured out, it’s time to think about how to position the backlight.
Backlights distinguish the subject from their background and help the subject pop out. Generally suspended above the subject, back lights illuminate the subject’s hair, adding a layer between them and the backdrop. Interviews without backlighting can run the risk of losing perspective, because the subject blends into the backdrop. Be careful with the backlight though, because subjects with longer hair are likely to have loose hairs being accentuated by the backlight!
When all is said and done, if you’re looking to shoot an interview with perspective, a back light is a necessity.
Always Have Audio or Video Backup
Great audio is just as important as great visuals when it comes to producing video interviews. Unfortunately, sometimes audio foibles occur. No matter how much you prepare, cables can malfunction and things can go wrong during an interview. Producer will often opt for either a Lavalier mic or boom mic, and not both. This is a common mistake, and an easy one to avoid.
It’s definitely in the producer’s best interest to have two mic options just in case. Additionally, two audio sources will aid the editor if someone bumps the mic or accidentally brushes against their lav. Having that second audio source to work with can save a lot of stress for all involved in post-production.
The same can be said about cameras. Every corporate interview should be shot with at least two cameras whenever possible. For visual purposes, having multiple cameras make for a more interesting video. It allows cuts between wide and tight angles and other creative possibilities like adding sliders and movement. For practical purposes, they allow you to cover up potential mistakes by having that extra angle to use.
Accidents and issues can occur even on the most assured productions, so, having a backup plan is always, always recommended.
Eyeline Consistency is Message Consistency
The eyeline of an interview subject changes depending on the message of the video. “Straight to Camera” style works better if you have a scripted video. “Documentary Style”, in which the subject looks slightly to the left/right of camera, builds a more conversational tone. However, less seasoned producers often neglect to make sure their eyeline stays consistent throughout the interview. This can be seen by the subject switching from talking off camera to strait to camera. But can also be just as jarring when a subject momentarily flashes their eyes in the wrong direction.
Ensuring that there is consistency in the subject’s eyeline is the producer’s job. Before the cameras start rolling, the subject should be properly coached on where to look during the interview. Corporate video interviews are usually shot with the subject looking at the producer conducing the interviews face. Their head should be close to the edge of the camera and at the same height for the main shot. If the subject looks higher or lower than the camera it can take away from the intimacy of the interview and feel unnatural.
Another factor to keep in mind when determining eyeline is the subject’s seat. A common mistake in corporate video production is seating the subject on a couch or lounge chair. Constant reshuffling and the low positioning of the seats lead to a lot of disruption. This changes the eyeline of the shot. Seating the subject on a stool is a solution which will create a consistent, natural eyeline throughout the shoot.
Having that consistent eyeline, will sidestep awkward moments of confusion and affirm the stance of the subject throughout the interview.
Be Spontaneous, But Be Prepared
Great interview videos feel spontaneous and off-the-cuff. The answers are delivered energetically and in a clear, easy-to-follow manner. Unfortunately, far too many producers and subjects alike will interpret this cue to be spontaneous as ‘no need to prepare’, which can be a big red flag.
Though interviews should be spontaneous, they shouldn’t be entirely random. Having an outline, making bullet points, or reading through the questions beforehand can give the subject a level of comfort while not being too rehearsed. Producers will do whatever it takes to get the best answers possible. An unprepared subject can really burden a production day in both time and quality.
The bottom line is to prepare but don’t seem robotic. The client, producer, and interview subject should all have a clear idea of the talking points before the camera gets rolling.
Fashion Faux Pas
The camera is nicer to some faces than others. But when it comes to clothing, certain decisions can be made that will impact the aesthetic outcome of the interview.
We recommend you don’t wear white as it gets blown out and looks bad on camera. Also, stay away from patterns, because they create a moiré effect, where the camera produces an odd wavy pattern.
The best way to dress for a corporate video interview is to wear bold, solid colors. They not only look great on the subject, but also cooperate well with the cameras.
Not Repeating the Question Leads to a Confusing Answer
When interviewing the subject, the producer should remind them to repeat the question within their answer. Doing so, avoids confusion and gives a solid, unmistakable answer. One may ask, “Why do you enjoy working at ASL?” To which, the subject can respond, “I love working at ASL, because I get to work with lots of great people!”
It seems like a small mistake, but it can hinder a video that has a message to deliver. The audience will never and should never hear the producer in the final product. This method means they will never have to!
To find out more tips on filming a corporate video interview or how ASL Productions can produce your next video interview, contact us today!