10 Steps to Better More Cinematic Interviews

Adding some video production offerings to your photography workload has become pretty common for a lot of photographers. Even though a lot of the technology is transferable, not all the skills are, and shooting interviews, both in the setup and getting better dialogue, can be difficult to learn. 

The days of simple white backdrop talking heads are over, and clients are demanding higher production value all the time. Shooting better-looking interviews can often be difficult, as you don't always know the location you'll be shooting beforehand. More often than not, if you can pick the location, you'll end up in a terrible place for both sound quality and background. This has been the case for me on many projects. 

The team over at Indy Mogul has put together 10 great tips to get better, more cinematic interviews no matter the location you find yourself in. They cover ways to improve a bad background, add dimension and atmosphere with what's around you, and even how to coach better dialogue out of your subject. 

Overall, these are a lot of great tips I wish I had known when I did my first few interviews. I'd add carrying small LED lights like Lume cubes can go a long way to making a better background. 

What are some tips you've found to get better interviews in bad locations?

Michael DeStefano's picture

Michael DeStefano is a commercial/editorial photographer focusing on Outdoor Lifestyle and Adventure. Based in Boston, MA he combines his passion for outdoor sports like climbing and surfing into his work. When not traveling or outdoors he is often found geeking out over new tech gadgets.

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This is a great primer for doing these kinds of interviews. I think a lot of beginning videographers would benefit from a video like this. Thanks for sharing!

Agreed so much of this I learned the hard way. I wish I had this before my first few interviews.

Yeah a great primer. They're using far more gear than I have though I need to invest in an LED cube.

One thing they did not mention is synchronising audio. I get the talent to click their fingers. Maybe there's a better way because I find this incredibly time consuming.

Also, viewing the image off the back of my 7D MK1 is not great so using an external monitor by tethering to a pad is good.

I'm ambivalent about the slider. Not entirely sure why, but it adds a certain feel that I'm not sure is always suitable.

I don't sync audio anymore, software never seems to have a problem syncing automatically. Before I used a digital clapper app on my tablet or cellphone. Also good for easy recording takes.

Ah, this is important because we're about to record a bunch of interviews. Is there a link you can provide or other tips? Thanks. I presume you're not recording with sound on a single camera. We will be using two which means we must sync somehow.

Thinking about the slider thing, I have reservations because it distracts from the talent.

It's something you'd do when showing an object or building etc. It feels gimmicky.

I find that some slider moves are a good thing, a lot of the time the "talent" is just a person talking. So it adds a little to the talking head. Too much and it looks gimmicky tho.

If you mean Software most editors have audio syncing built-in. If you mean the App the one I use is called Digital Clapper on android not sure if its on apple. There are a ton of clapper apps though. I typically shoot 3 cameras and a 4-track audio recorder. Mic to the recorder and a line out into camera 1. Second mic like rode pro on camera or sometimes a second lav into camera 2. Third camera built-in scratch audio. The recorder also records 2 tracks one at -10db and sometimes interviewers questions for transcripts with the built-in mic.
I hate doing audio so I overdo it in case something goes wrong haha

Okay! I think I get it. May the blessing of a thousand sons be upon you.

Make me mo’better to get mo’monies.