Camp VJ London – Day 2: Filming interviews

Yesterday I attended day two of the Visual Editors’ videojournalism training in London. The four-day course covers the fundamentals of videojournalism with proceeds going to not-for-profit news project Beamups.

You can read my report on day one of the course – an introduction to the basics of videojournalism in this post.

Below are some introductory tips to filming interviews learned from the course.

There are still places available on Thursday’s (October 29) programme, which will focus on selling your videos.

As day two was to focus on filming interviews, I spent most of it getting to grips with my tripod. I wanted to be confident with my kit so I could gain confidence of my interview subject; not look like a complete novice while struggling to get my camera to sit straight.

We learned about basic framing for a shot; where to stand to allow you to maintain eye contact and yet monitor your camera; and tips on getting your subject to relax and open up.

But my main lesson of the day went back to confidence: try to anticipate problems that might arise when you’re filming, before you’re doing it, advised our tutor Robb.

Good advice:

  • Prepare your tripod and camera as far as possible (e.g. check your battery’s charge).
  • Avoid one word or yes/no answers by giving your subject commands rather than asking questions e.g. “Tell me….”, “Describe to me….” – you need longer answers so you can get the worthwhile soundbites to edit.
  • Take headphones with you so (if your camera allows it) you can monitor how the footage sounds on location.
  • Take plenty of natural sound – you may need this if editing shots together.

Sent out on our lunch hour to find willing interview subjects, I convinced a local businessman to let me film in his shop. A hairdresser for 45 years, he was animated and engaging.

Some things I learned:

  • Don’t be afraid to move your camera if you want to change the framing during an interview. I needed to step a little closer to improve the frame and give louder audio. Just make sure you let your subject know what you are doing.
  • If your subject is sitting and you’re standing, this doesn’t matter, so long as the camera is at eye-level with the interviewee rather than the camera looking down on them.
  • Asking some initial throwaway questions helps your interviewee relax and gives you time to adjust your camera if needs be.

Editing my footage (around 10 minutes including cutaway shots) was much quicker today – less than an hour for three minutes, including work on audio and splicing together different answers with cutaways.

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