Framing Interview Shots
In addition to the normal rules of framing, there are a number of guidelines specific to interviews. Later in the tutorial we will discuss the setup required to get these shots, but for now we'll just look at the types of shot and why they are important.
Too much profile
In most cases the subject (interviewer or guest) is facing slightly left or right of the camera. This shows that the subject is talking to someone else (not the viewer), but by being relatively front-on the viewer is still part of the conversation.
A big part of video interviews is making sure the interviewer and guest are always facing the "right way" so they are talking to each other. If they are facing the same way they will both appear to be talking to an unseen third person.
Avoid severe profile shots — you should always be able to see both eyes. People are very attuned to seeing someone's whole face when they talk and if the viewer can't see enough of the face it becomes uncomfortable. Profiles are also unflattering to the guest.
Common Interview Shots
Important: The following rule is especially important in interviews:
- Shots ranging from wide shot to MCU are best for information delivery, i.e. when the subject is talking about factual information.
- Shots tighter than a MCU are appropriate for when the guest is talking about something personal or emotional — the shot pulls the viewer into the same emotional space. For this reason it's not usually a good idea to go tighter than a MCU on the interviewer, since their feelings are not the focus and they should be portrayed as slightly detached from the emotion of the topic (but not completely detached).
The Sequence of Shots
Most interviews start with a fairly loose shot of the interviewer and/or guest. Make sure you leave enough room for a name/title key if necessary. It's usually best to have similar framing for both interviewer and guest at the beginning of the interview. As the interview progresses the relative framing can vary.
A common practice is to begin the interview with a mid-shot as the guest talks about the facts, then slowly zoom in to a close up when the guest begins talking about their feelings. This technique is popular in current affairs programs and documentaries. Don't drag the close-up on for too long — after a while it becomes uncomfortable and makes the viewer feel that they are invading the speaker's personal space. Watch television interviews and learn to judge the timing of these moves.
Use appropriate, motivated framing. For example:
- If the guest starts using hand gestures, zoom or cut to a shot which includes them (if possible).
- If the interview is to be closely edited with other interviews or content, make sure your shots will match as necessary.
- And remember: Wider shots for information and casual conversation, tighter shots for intensity.
We will discuss the sequence of shots a bit more when we cover editing interviews.
Next Page: Composition