Interviews are the heart and soul of most corporate video productions. 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 behind the scenes making sure everything is in its right place.
Without a focused effort, common mistakes can occur on an interview video shoot that take away from the potential impact of your corporate video. Luckily, all of these mistakes are preventable; so, 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, so 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 interview subject’s seat a comfortable distance from the wall can build this depth that will allow you to drop the background out of focus a bit. For this effect, you’ll want the subject seated no than five feet from the backdrop, or however far you need 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, more often than not, 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 at other points in your video, shooting towards a window can create inconsistencies in coloring that lead to a messy final product.
The most prevalent issue; however, is overexposure. Shooting into sunlight will initially turn the subject into a silhouette, which will require some adjustments to the camera’s settings to get them in clear 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) on hand 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. Aside from looking one dimensional, interviews without backlighting can run the risk of losing perspective, especially when the subject’s hair color blends into the backdrop. Be careful with the backlight though, because subjects with longer hair are more susceptible to having loose hairs being accentuated by the backlight!
When all is said and done, if you’re looking to shoot an interview with perspective, having a back light is far better than not having one.
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 prepared you are 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 not only in the producer’s best interest to have two options to make things run smoothly, but two audio sources will also aid the editor if, let’s say, someone bumps into the mic or the subject accidentally brushes against their Lav mic. 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, allowing to cut between wide and tight angles, not to mention all the other creative possibilities like adding sliders and movement. While for practical purposes, they allow you to cover up potential mistakes by having that extra option to switch to in case something goes astray or you want to stay on your subject longer without a jump cut.
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, while “Documentary Style”, in which the subject looks slightly to the left/right of the camera, builds a more conversational tone. However, subjects who are not used to sitting for interviews and less seasoned producers often neglect to make sure their eyeline stays consistent throughout the interview. This can be seen in the larger case of switching from talking off camera to strait to camera, but can also be just as jarring when a subject only momentarily flashes his or her 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. As corporate interview videos are usually shot in “Documentary Style”, the subject should be instructed on a point to focus on (typically the producer conducing the interviews face), to avoid any confusion. The producer who is doing the interview will most likely have their head as close to the edge of the camera and at the same height for the main shot. Whenever the subject is looking at a point higher or lower than the camera it will take away from the intimacy of the interview and not feel as natural.
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, which will change the eyeline of a shot. Seating the subject on a stool is a common solution to this issue, which will create a consistent, natural eyeline for the subject 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 bet answers possible, but an unprepared subject can really burden a production day in both time and quality.
The bottom line is to be prepared, but not rehearsed. 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.
Wearing white is always advised against as it gets blown out and looks bad on camera. Also, stay away from busy, sharp 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 that not only look great on the subject, but also cooperate well with the cameras.
Not Repeating the Question Leads to a Confusing Answer
Sometimes, you’ll be watching an interview and the subject will give a great answer, but it doesn’t really seem to fit into the exact context of the Video. For example, “I get to work with lots of great people.” It’s a fine answer, but in the video, you could be talking about anywhere, so you can see how it gets a bit confusing.
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 goes a long way when putting together corporate videos that have a concrete, driving message to deliver. The audience will never and should never hear the producer in the final product and this method means they will never have to!
To find out more tips on filming corporate video interviews or how ASL Productions can produce your next video interview, contact us today!