Practical Video Tips for Making Your Own Video Interviews

Eliminate background noise.

The hardest part of any video shoot is quieting the background noise. If you’re in an office, school or public place you’ll never be able to fully cut out all the sounds but chances are there are at least 5 things you can do to cut back on that noise.  Close doors and ask folks nearby to be as quiet as possible while you’re filming.  Turn off computers, radios and phones.  Turn of the air conditioner or other machine-hum in the area.  If you stop, close your eyes and listen you will hear a lot of noise sources, most of which you can eliminate or at least dampen.

Turn on the lights or get near a window

One of the biggest weaknesses in consumer grade cameras is their inability to really perform well in low lighting situations.  Help your camera get all the light it can possibly get. The ideal situation is to shoot your subject a few feet away from a window with natural daylight coming through (but not direct sunlight).  If you can’t get window access then turn on every light in the room and have your subject sit near a lamp.  Also remember that not all light sources are created equal.  Kill overhead fluorescents whenever possible and try to use tungsten lightbulbs or halogen instead.

Get close… then get closer!

You’ll think you want to get all that background and a full body shot but you really don’t.  The most important part of your shot is the subject’s eyes followed by the face.  Get up close to their face especially since most people who will view your video will never even see it at full screen.

Speak up big mouth!

Most people speak on video in the same tone and volume as a conversation with someone.  This is fine if you’re James Earl Joes but for the rest of us the regular volume of our voices is not enough.  Coach, encourage and remind (constantly) your subject to speak louder than they normally do.  If they get weird about it tell them to use their “lecture” voice or “teacher tone.”  It won’t sound unnatural on film and you’ll be pleased with the final result. There’s nothing worse than a great video online and you can barely hear what the person is saying. Don’t be that guy.

Get steady

If you’re using a Flip camera or other small/lightweight camera you’re going to have trouble keeping it steady if you’re holding it out with 1 arm. You’ll feel like it’s steady but after viewing your footage it will look like you were walking around drunk on a ship in a storm.  To get steady use a mini tripod on top of a desk. Rest against a wall.  Lean against something.  Do whatever you have to do to keep that camera in 1 spot.

Keep it short, keep it sweet

Keep the pace moving and make sure if you cross the 3 minute mark that you’re taping something amazing.  If you’re doing a talking-heads video then anything longer than 3 minutes is a waste of time.

Start with the end in mind

Know exactly why you’re making this video.  Know where it’s going to go when it’s done. Know who you expect to see it and how you want them to respond.  Remind the person you’re filming of the final product as well and encourage them to stick to 2 or 3 main points. Don’t let them ramble and definitely do not start filming without having coached them about what you want them to say. Most people shut down if given no instructions for being in your video. They will appreciate and respond to you taking the lead and instructing them in just about everything you want them to do and say.

Coach your subjects

Once you’ve killed the background sound, turned on the lights, pulled out your tripod and have combed your subject’s messy hair then you’re ready to start. But before you hit record make sure your subject knows exactly what this project is.  You would be surprised how much disconnect there is between what the videographer sees in his or her mind and what the expectations are of the person being filmed.  Don’t be afraid to stop filming and make deliberate and specific instructions to your subject.  It’s ok to tell them to stop fidgeting, talk louder, look at the camera more, stop saying “umm,” and sit up straighter. Be nice but be specific.

Specify your brand use

Know how you want your brand portrayed and talking about in your video content.  If you’re filming other people (like in a video testimony or case study) make sure you coach them on how you want them to discuss your brand.  For example avoid having your subjects talk about  “you” and instead tell them to your full company name whenever they talk about you.  If there is a tagline or slogan that goes along with your brand then make sure you coach your subjects on how to say it.  You must step in and be in control of how your brand is mentioned.

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