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Weekly Video Tip: Conducting Interviews

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RISMEDIA, August 3, 2010—Whether you’re in real estate, tourism, marketing, or even fund raising, your video camera can become a powerful tool for recording interviews of all kinds. From testimonials and product reviews to endorsements and instructions, interviews can be highly effective for getting the job done. Here are a few tips to make conducting interviews easier.

Begin by putting the interviewee at ease. Let them know your questions well in advance, and allow them time to practice giving clear, concise answers. Remind them if mistakes are made, you can simply ask the question again.

Next, save time and tighten the focus by having them be the only one on camera. Ask your questions in a way that the listener will know what the question was by the way it was answered. For example, if you ask them what they liked most about the Grand Canyon, they would begin their answer by saying: ”What we liked most about the Grand Canyon was…” That way, there’s no need for you, or your question, to be part of the presentation.

When you begin recording, have them look slightly off camera—as though they are looking at you as you are seated to the immediate right or left of the camera—much like you see on television news interviews. Do not have them look into, or even glance at the camera, during recording. Also, remember the so-called Rule of Thirds. Mentally divide the viewfinder evenly into nine equal squares—using two horizontal and two vertical lines. Then, position the eyes of the interviewee at or near where the top horizontal line intersects the nearest vertical line in the upper right or left hand corners of the screen.

Avoid using the camera’s built-in mic whenever possible, opting instead for an external lapel mic. Wear headphones while recording to make sure you detect any popping or scratching from the mic. Record some so-called B-Roll as well, to use as a patch when editing between segments of the interview. Stuff like the person talking on the phone, looking through a folder, shaking hands with someone, or walking through a doorway—anything that would reflect normal business activity for a few seconds while you transition to the next answer. And finally, remember to always use a tripod, and make certain the interviewee doesn’t have a window or bright light behind them.

And last but not least, keep your questions interesting, concise and well planned. While the mechanics of recording the interview are important, in the end, it’s all about content.

Stephen Schweickart is the co-founder of VScreen. For more information on this topic, visit VScreen’s blogsite at http://www.vscreen.com/blog/.

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