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Being able to film great interviews is a staple in the film-making world. But it can be extremely overwhelming.

What lens should you use?

What kind of lighting?

Audio? B-Roll?

How do you edit the footage?

How do you get the best color grade?

It doesn't have to be this hard.

Tips For Filming Perfect Interviews

There are some tips for filming perfect interviews. You can learn about the perfect lighting, lens, audio, and camera settings. Before your interview, make sure you know the topics you want to cover. Also, let your interview subjects know if they're being filmed. This will make their experience much smoother.

Perfect Lighting for Interviews

Choosing the perfect lighting for filming interviews is important. The right background and lighting can set the tone for a successful interview. The lighting should compliment the natural environment. Make sure to sit slightly off-camera so that you are between the light source and the subject. If you don't have any natural light, try to focus the light on a light source in the background.

It's important to match the lighting to the subject's features. Using a three-point lighting setup works well for filming interviews. The key light is the main source of light on the subject, while the fill light is the secondary light that fills in the dark spots. The fill light can be less bright and can be further away from the subject. This helps create a three-dimensional effect in the image.

Creating a unified look for an interview can be challenging for a new filmmaker. There are several variables to consider, including the person on camera, the environment, and the equipment. But once you have mastered the basic principles of cinematic lighting, you can always refer to them as you shoot.

If you want to create a "dynamic" look to your footage, bring the light source as close as possible to your subject. The closer the light source is, the bigger the difference between your subject's brightness and the background. Make sure this light has a nice softness to it. You can do this with a softbox or by putting a white cloth in front of the light. Harsh light can give unwanted bright spots on the subject's face.

To get a more balanced look between subject and background, move the light source further away. This will allow you to bump up the lighting on your camera and create less dynamics between your subject and the background.

Perfect Lenses for Interviews

Choosing the right lens for an interview can make a huge difference in how your final product looks. While busy filmmakers might be tempted to use the same lens for all their scenes, this is not always a good choice. Each interviewee is different and will have a unique personality.

Before filming the interview, determine whether you'll be shooting with two cameras. If you're filming an interview with more than one person, you might need two cameras. If so, you can shoot both close-ups and wide shots. Remember to leave plenty of time to set up.

If you're using a tripod to film your interview, you'll want to place it at least three feet away from the subject to ensure it looks natural. You should also choose a background that is free from distractions. Bright lights, readable text, and movement in the background can all be distracting. In addition, you need to avoid using colors that clash with the subject. You can also use plants to add color and interest to the background.

For a single-camera interview, a wide-angle lens (such as 24mm) might be best. For more intimate close-ups, a normal lens (such as 50mm) may be a better choice. A close-up lens (such as 85mm) can sometimes miss larger hand motions or leaning forward. Try a few different lenses before making a final decision.

Wide-angle lenses will make backgrounds appear farther away. This can help you add context to the story by revealing more of the setting. However, a wide-angle lens isn't a good choice for a live interview segment because the interviewee is usually very close to the lens. In addition to this, space is often at a premium and multiple news crews may be competing for attention.

A medium shot consists of the subject's head, shoulders, and waist. During the interview, it is important to change the focal length between questions to show different parts of the scene. You should also consider the size of the sensor of the camera.

If you are able to have two cameras, the main camera should capture a wider range (such as knees up) and the secondary camera can capture a tighter shot (such as chest up).

The wider lens is best for the main shot, and most of the time should be on this view. Your secondary camera with the close up lens adds a lot of dynamics and depth to the shot. The background will be much more blurry and will give it a "cinematic" look.

The wider the aperture the better for most interviews. This helps you separate your subject from the background. For example, if you shoot with an F-stop of 4.0, your background doesn't have a change to be very blurry, but if you shoot with F1.8, your subject will really pop compared to the background.

If you have two cameras, you can have your main camera on a tripod and get secondary shots on a mobile rig or handheld. This will add some nice movement to your shots and lets the viewer feel as though they are in the film.

Perfect Audio for Interviews

Before filming an interview, check the audio level of your camera and the microphone. It's important to ensure that the audio level is good and does not change from interview to interview. For interviews conducted outdoors, choose a spot where the natural light will be optimal. Also, choose a location that has good acoustics so that the sound will be more natural.

It's best practice to have two sources of audio if possible. This ensures you still capture audio if one source malfunctions.

You can have one mic boomed overhead, and a lav mic clipped to your subject.

If you have only one option for audio, you can choose between these two options.

If you choose a boom mic, I like to have the microphone as close as possible to the frame without being in it. This will help to hear the subject over the room noise or any unwanted sounds. This can be done with a shotgun mic or a condensor mic. Shotgun mics are more directional and pic up more of what it is pointed at, while the condensor mic picks up more surrounding sounds. If you choose a quiet location, this should not be an issue.

Also, the closer the microphone is to the subject, the more low-end you will be able to capture from their voices.

If you are going with a lav mic, I like to hide it from the view of the camera. You can tape the microphone to the inside of the speaker's shirt to hide it from the camera. This also has another added effect. It helps to block any outisde sounds or wind noise. It also is close to the speaker's chest, so you are picking up the maximum amount of low-end.

Perfect Camera Settings for Interviews

Before filming an interview, it is important to know the best camera settings to capture the most candid moments. A low f-stop is ideal f/1.8 or f/2.0 are good examples. This allows for more depth of field and separation between the subject and the background. You should also use a tripod for the best results.

You should set up two cameras before filming an interview. The main camera should be at a slight angle to the interview subject, so it does not look directly at the subject. At the same time, it should not be too far away from the angled side. A good angle for the main camera is 30 degrees or less.

Ensure the location is quiet and well-lit. The background should be free of distracting elements such as plants and people. It should also be free of noise and ambient sound. The position of the camera should also be such that the subject looks comfortable. To achieve this, place it a few feet from the wall.

Use the max-quality of your camera for these shots. You can shoot in 24fps or 30fps for a more natural look. If your camera can shoot in 4K, this is best. If it only has 1080 that is good too. Even if you plan on exporting in 1080, filming in 4K can have many benefits. You can use your 4K footage to "punch in" and give yourself essentially two different camera focal ranges. For example, if you film in 4K, and shoot at a focal length of 50mm, when you punch in to 1080, it is as though you shot with a 100-mm lens.

Always make sure to properly white balance your footage before beginning. Don't assume you can correct it in post-production. Carry a white card with you, or a sheet of paper works well too. DO NOT use auto white balance, as your camera might make mid-shot shifts in color - destroying your footage.

Perfect B-Roll for Interviews

When it comes to producing your next interview video, your B-Roll shots are as important as the interview itself. You can use these shots to complement your interview footage and help your viewers follow your interviewee's points. If you're shooting an interior design video, for example, you may want to add B-roll shots of the process. Not only will they help you tell the story of the interior design project, but they will also add interest to your video.

B-Roll can help tell a story by highlighting details or transitioning between scenes. Whether you're shooting an interview or an event, B-roll is a great way to enhance the story and wow your viewers. It also offers more creative editing options and keeps viewers engaged. In addition to being a great tool for storytelling, B-Roll can help you cover up any edits and give your video a more professional look.

B-Roll is a common source of inspiration for filmmakers. It can be anything that complements your main footage. For example, a piece of B-roll footage could be a political leader protesting in a country or footage of parliamentary proceedings. As long as these shots have equal importance, they qualify as B-roll.

Shoot your B-roll in 60fps so you can slow it down in post-production. This gives the footage a slow and smooth look that elevates your footage.

It's best practice to film the interview first. Make notes mentally or on paper of what the subject talks about. Use these notes to film appropriate B-roll for your interview.

How much of the interview is overlayed with B-roll is up to you. Some interviews are more impactful seeing the speaker talk, and some need a lot of supporting footage to help visualize what they are talking about.

Perfect Color Grading for Interviews

Color grading footage is an art as much as it is a science. The science portion is color and light balancing. You can use your waveforms to ensure nothing of importance is overexposed or underexposed. You can use vector-scopes to ensure your skin tones are the proper color, as some cameras tend to lean towards green or magenta color cast. If you have properly white-balanced your footage beforehand, this is much easier.

The "art" portion is the color grading. This is where you can really take your footage to the next level. Your color grade will help set the tone for the interview, and can be the difference in a good interview and a great one. Overdoing the color grade is a sign of an amateur. Simple, natural color grades are usually best for interviews - as opposed to film, where extreme color grades can give the film a unique look.

I have a couple of LUT packs that can help elevate your interviews and give them a natural, but professional look. Here is the link to my LUT packs if you are interested in using them.

Perfect Music for Interviews

It can be tricky to choose the right music for filming interviews. The right choice is neither random nor personal - it should be appropriate to the journalistic format, the subject being interviewed, and the emotion you want to convey. Below are some tips for selecting the right music. First of all, remember that music for interviews should be free of copyright restrictions.

The right music should be evocative and inspire the subject to open up. People are not always inclined to answer questions in a straight and neutral manner. Use the power of music to persuade them to continue watching the interview.

Make sure the music is much quieter than the speaker so you don't struggle to hear their voice. You can increase the volume between sentences when B-roll is playing.

The music should match the emotions you want the viewer to feel; this could be happiness, sadness, excitement, encouragement - anything you'd like. You can find royalty-free music from sites like Soundstripe.

Final Thoughts

If you want to create the best interviews possible, it takes some planning and learning. The important thing is to consider how you want the interview to look and feel before you ever press record. Also, don't be discouraged if you aren't able to make amazing interviews on your first try. Some of these techniques take a lot of practice and trial/error. Have fun and learn as you go.

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