The ‘talking head’ interview… Doesn’t it look so simple? Well, looks can be deceptive! Like all apparently easy things, the devil is in the detail, so to speak. So, we’ve come up with 7 handy tips to ensure that your talking head goes smoothly and looks as professional as possible.
Use a wireless radio mic
A wireless radio mic is great for two reasons. Firstly, it banishes any unsightly wires from the process. Secondly, it effectively makes filming an interview a one-person job. It also means that the positioning of the interviewee isn’t dependent on things like cable length, thanks to the generous range of most radio mics.
Ensure your shots are consistent
If you’re planning to use different shots, make sure that you film your mid shots, long shots and close-ups at exactly the same level of zoom. A constant changing of zoom level between cuts looks very odd!
Have the camera at eye level
Don’t forget that a camera is effectively the eye of the viewer. If our audience feels above our interviewee, they may feel superior. If they’re below an interviewee, they may feel inferior. Don’t forget the psychology of height and positioning! Power dynamics come into play, even here!
Position your interviewee to one side of the camera
Having an interviewee talk into the camera is rather unusual and most interviewees aren’t very good at it. If you put your interviewer to the side of the camera, your subject will maintain eye contact with them, which will feel warmer for the audience and make your interviewee significantly more comfortable.
Have the camera at a distance From the Subject
This will avoid the background seeming flat and lifeless. If the lighting is good, then keep your aperture as low as possible – it will help create a good depth of field. Again, if possible, avoid changing the zoom during shots. It will seem amateurish and be extremely irritating to anyone viewing the interview!
Background and location
Never forget that you’re conducting an interview and that no matter how exciting a background might prove to be, if it’s a loud, outdoor place the ambient noise will affect sound quality. The less you can control what’s in the background, the more those elements can interfere with your interview!
If you’re going to film indoors, bear in mind the sound quality of your chosen space. Echoey rooms will have a cold, airy sound and cozy rooms a warm, intimate sound. One is not necessarily better or worse… It’s about what fits best with your interview.
Also consider the interviewee and their sensibilities when choosing a location. The priority for an interview is for it to be rich with content, not necessarily looking like a Hollywood set. Choose somewhere that reinforces their content or message and that isn’t in any way a distraction from the primary focus of the shot.
Nothing spoils an interview like poor lighting. We’ve scoured the web to find the best how-to on lighting. Take a look at the video below!
Don’t forget that these are only guidelines. Feel free to use this advice as little or as much as you like to fit your own creative parameters! Perhaps use multiple cameras… Perhaps use starker lighting… Either way, your aim is to make something engaging and entertaining – use your own judgment. For advice from the interviewee’s perspective, check out our article on what to wear to an interview and much more.