Composing Interview Shots
Once you are familiar with the basic framing requirements for interviews, here are a few more composition tips...
- Set the interview in an appropriate location, perhaps with relevant background features. It's often desirable to make the background appear to be the guest's normal surroundings. If you're outside you could use an identifiable building or landmark; if you're inside you could use photos, logos, etc.
- Lighting can help set the mood. For example, soft low-temperature light for an intimate feel or harsh light for a confrontational approach.
- The position and framing of interviewer and guest can affect the perceived relationship. For example, having the interviewer behind a desk can provide a sense of authority.
- If there are props involved you may be able to place them in front of the interview so they can be shown whenever they are talked about.
Check the background and make sure there's nothing distracting from the person speaking. Often the worst visual distractions are subtle things the camera operator didn't notice during the shoot, for example:
- An object which appears to be growing out of the guest's head.
- A sign in the background with some letters obscured to make an unwanted new word.
Try to have something in the background which suits or supports the interview (e.g. a landmark, monument, etc).
Check the microphone and cube. A wind-sock which is hanging off the mic doesn't look good.
It is very important to make sure the guest's eyes are level with the interviewer's. Any noticeable difference makes the interview look uncomfortable, and may even give an unwanted message (such as dominant and submissive appearances).
In studio situations, chairs are adjusted to make everyone the same height.
In the field you may need to be a bit more inventive. In the situation pictured on the right, the interviewer and guest are only ever shown from the waist up. The audience need never know the true height relationship.
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