Overcome Videotaping Obstacles


Today’s the day you’ll be recording an interview with your company CEO for your next video.  You’ve hired a crew using professional equipment and you are wondering what does that mean exactly? Till now you’ve focused most of your time on talking points, and if you are lucky, some role playing.  But if you are hoping for a seamless morning, you’ll want to give some thought to the following:

 Make the background add to the message
Award-winning director of photography and former NBC videographer Catherine Zimmerman says, “I’m always surprised when I show up in an office and the PR person really hasn’t given any thought to what the background will say about the spokesperson.”  Data has shown us that background is important.  Whether it’s up on a big screen or posted on the web, how your spokesperson appears will influence a viewer’s impression.  In fact, the content you have spent so much time on represents only 30% of what a person will remember from a sound bite; the rest of their impression is made up of what they see and how it is delivered.   It’s unfortunate, but true, so work it to your advantage.

So, is your spokesperson a statistician?  Does the background add to his or her authority?  Does the office look like the office a viewer would expect that person to work in, or will the viewer stop listening to the content as they wonder if the statistician really has a Beyoncé photo on the wall?  Give it some thought so that the background adds to and does not detract from the person’s authority.  For a lawyer, legal books in the background work; a pediatrician might have playful paintings behind her or an exam room wall; a builder would best be interviewed on the construction site etc . 

•  Can you hear the AC?
“If people only remember one thing from your blog, Sue, I hope it will be this: nothing ruins a good interview faster than poor sound,” and veteran sound technician Rick Patterson says he wishes more people would give some thought to this before they decide on the interview location.  Patterson, who has collected sound in remote places, as well as the more common office building, says a good sound tech can only work with what is in the room and sound environment can be a big obstacle.

Funny how we never notice the large hum the air conditioning makes until the crew arrives!  Poor sound and sound interference will make any interview seem canned and deadly.  Sometimes, we can cover the AC with heavy blankets, but quieter rooms are better—preferably rooms that do not have a lot of activity just outside their door, like elevators and loud laughter.  Professional sound is key to a good production.

  Pick the right room
Larger is always better.  Plain white or beige walls are best avoided.  Offices are better than conference rooms.  The larger the room, the further back the videographer can get, the more depth the picture will have, the prettier the picture.  Sometmes, the best office may be a different office, perhaps somewhere else on the same floor.

•  Get the crew in quickly
Can the crew park in the building?  If not, can they unload by the front door or will the guard tell them they need to use a loading dock?  Are there stairs and if so is there a wheelchair access ramp so their equipment dolly can roll right up? Is any kind of access key required in the elevator?

  Get them past the guard
Should the crew bring ID?  Will the equipment need to go through x-ray machines?  If so, allow an extra 30 minutes to get into the building.

  Find a place for the extra stuff
It’s great if you can think about a staging area aka. a place where the crew can put the dolly and the equipment boxes that they are not using, so it’s out of the way, maybe in a nearby empty office.  It makes it easier for the crew to capture interesting angles and subjects for the b-roll if there is a good place to stash the gear. 

  Block out natural sun light
Those beautiful windows that you love looking out of are an annoyance to the video crew!  Don’t be surprised if they close all the shades so that they can control the lighting in order to light the subject in the most flattering manner possible.  If there are no shades, the crew can cover them provided they have brought the necessary equipment, but best to choose another room.

  PLAN!  So you get the most for your money
The time it takes to record an interview and shoot additional footage always takes much longer than you may expect.

  • Allow an hour to set up for an in-office interview.
  • If more than one location is used, allow for extra time to set up and break down equipment. Allow even more time if you are headed upstairs or outside for the second interview.
  • Allow some down time for lunch and maybe come up with a plan that would help the crew get lunch as quickly as possible.  Getting good shots often requires patience and not settling for anything but the best, tough to do when you’re starving!

By taking a few minutes to think it all over, you’ll definitely surprise the videographer–but in a good way– because you will have given it some thought and you’ll get a great return at the end of the day when you’ve accomplished all you set out to do with a minimum of aggravation! 

This article is part of the Beyond Point and Shoot series produced by Susan Stolov and Washington Independent Productions Inc.  It’s another example of how Washington Independent Productions helps clients use video to change attitudes.  For ten years, our videos for Mothers Against Drunk Driving helped reduce drunk driving deaths by 12% saving 143,351 lives.  And, you may put your child in a booster seat today because of our work for the Department of Transportation.  To harness the power of video for your organization visit:  www.washingtonindependentproductions.com