The Single Camera Interview:
Tips and Techniques

The single camera interview

Here is a question I received recently about shooting... Single Camera Interviews ...!

"I am shooting an interview with a single camera. Do you have any tips about the best way to go about shooting it?"   J.G.

Thanks for the video production question! Here are some general tips on how to shoot the interview effectively using a single camera!

Two Different Techniques for Shooting the Single Camera Interview...

Techniques for shooting a single camera interview

There are mainly two ways that you can shoot an interview with a single camera. Use the position and technique that will best  capture the subject's response to the interviewer's questions!

#1. Using a Fixed Location and Angle...

Fixed location and angle for the interview

One way is to have the camera at a fixed location and angle and just shoot the person (subject) from that viewpoint throughout the interview.

The basic camera angle on this is the POV or Point of View shotBe sure to have the interviewer sitting fairly close to the subject so that the conversation can be relaxed and without strain.

Three point lighting in the interview

As for lighting… The three point lighting technique is most preferred for a single camera interview.

#2. Move the Camera throughout the Interview...

Moving the camera in the interview

Another way would be to move the camera around throughout the interview... Changing the viewpoint and angle to create more of an impact with the audience.

Camera support during the interviewSolid Camera Support Is the Key When You're Moving the Camera during an Interview!

This type of camera work is, of course, a bit tricky... And you have to ensure that your camera is stable (with no camera shake) and that everything stays in focus. It can be a lot of work and you need to plan it out carefully! But... if done right, it can be very dynamic and really pull your audience's attention into the interview.

Also, if you're going to move the camera in this way, be sure to get enough footage so that you can make precise edits in post-production. This will ensure that the visuals are in sync and flow with the audio of the interview.

The Sequence and Flow of Camera Shots in the Interview...

The sequence of shots in the interview

There is a standard sequence of camera shots that are used in shooting single camera interviews...

And Just a Tip...

* Whichever video production technique you choose... just remember that most interviews are best shot in one continuous take!

I would encourage you to be creative however and use a sequence of shots that will get across the information the interviewee is presenting in a fresh, informative and interesting way.

A great way to figure out the rough sequence of shots is to do a storyboard before you shoot!

That way you have some idea of how you're going to approach it but... of course...

In an interview... you do have to be ready for the unexpected also! But... if you plan it out well... everything should go smoothly!

Here are Some Tips on the Rough Sequence of Shots When Shooting an Interview…

Single Camera Interview Tip #1

#1. Normally, in shooting an interview, you would begin the interview with an establishing shot that shows the participants and where they are located. This opening (establishing) shot will orient the audience.

Single Camera Interview Tip #2

#2. Usually the camera will then pan into a medium or close-up shot of the interviewer who will then introduce the guest and topic to the audience.

Single Camera Interview Tip #3

#3. The interviewer made then turned to face the guest with the camera panning out into a point-of-view shot of the interviewer and subject and the interview begins.

Single Camera Interview Tip #4

#4. If you have your camera in a fixed location. You can then do gentle pans and zooms on the subject as needed throughout the interview to emphasize parts of the conversation or to catch the emotion of the interviewee.

Single Camera Interview Tip #5

#5. At the end of the interview it is common for the camera to pull out to a bit wider shot (a two-shot) that frames both the interviewer and subject and then pan into a close-up of the interviewer if there are closing statements.

A Word about the Recording the Audio In the Interview...

Recording the audio in the interview

It almost goes without saying that the audio from the interview has to be excellent!

Recording the audio separately with a Lavalier or boom type microphone and then adding it in post-production after you've had a chance to clean it up is always preferable.

Lavalier MicrophoneLavalier Microphone

But… That's not always possible so you will have to use your camcorder's built-in microphone.

So… If that is the case...

Then just take care that you don't have any distracting background noise and that you angle your camera's microphone so that it can pick up the sound in as high a quality as possible.

Take a look at this article for some tips on using your camcorder's microphone to its full advantage.

Doing the Video Editing of the Interview...

Video editing the interview

A little bit of video editing is recommended of course, to help make the interview concise, easy to follow and to-the-point. Video editing will also help in the smooth transitioning from one topic to another in the interview.

You may also want to add a bit of clarifying information so that your audience has pertinent data about the interviewee and/or subject matter of the topic being discussed.

A lot of times the interview has to fit into a certain time frame such as 5 minutes, 10 minutes etc... So it will, of course, have to be edited for that reason also.

A little bit of video editing can go a long way to making an otherwise dull interview into something that the audience will want to watch and listen to all the way through!

So there it is!

Some basics for you on shooting a single camera interview.

I hope this information will help you to shoot a great and informative interview that will capture your audiences attention and give them some great information!

Have fun...!  Dan (Editor)

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