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VIDEO SETUP GUIDE FOR SINGLE CAMERA INTERVIEW SHOOT
V1.0, July 2011 Prepared by Creative Development, Technology Enabled Learning & Teaching (TELT), Learning and Teaching Unit, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia © Copyright 2011, The University of New South Wales
Introduction!_____________________________________________________4 Step 1: Decide on interviewee placement! ______________________________5 Step 2: Set up tripod/camera! _______________________________________6 Step 3: Balance tripod! ____________________________________________9 Step 4: Power on Camera! _________________________________________10 Step 5: Check status of media! _____________________________________11 Step 6: Set up lighting (optional)! ____________________________________12 Step 7: White balance camera! _____________________________________13 Step 8: Set camera exposure!______________________________________16 Step 9: Set up sound equipment!____________________________________19 Step 10: Set audio levels! _________________________________________20 Step 11: Focus camera on interviewee!_______________________________22 Step 12: Frame the shot! __________________________________________23 Step 13: Ready to record! _________________________________________25 .
Introduction This guide is intended for the production crew (camera operator. pre-‐ interviewing and interviewee selection. much of the content can be applied to camera use in general. the knowledge and methods contained herein will become second nature facilitating better outcomes for interview shoots in the future. Although this guide is speciQic to interviews. Over time. As it is mainly a technical guide. It is mainly intended as a Qield guide to be either viewed on a mobile device or printed out for reference. . However. question writing. sound assistant etc) to assist with the execution of successful single camera interview style video shoots. this document is not intended to cover topics such as interviewing techniques. it is suggested that the production crew and interviewing crew familiarise themselves with the content before the shoot to ensure proper preparation.
When happy with the background. Also. 3. not too high or too low and not in their eyes or side-‐on) See Step 6 for examples. Furniture. if the background is too “busy” it can be a distraction from the person speaking and this should be avoided. place the seat of your interviewee some distance from the background. Walk around the space kneeling down to eye level of your interviewee from time to time to Qind a suitable background.Step 1: Decide on interviewee placement Considerations A good interview setup will have a background appropriate to the subject matter and the interviewee. . ensure there is enough light to get a good exposure hitting the face of the interviewee at a fairly neutral 45 degree angle (i. Available light (natural daylight or in-‐room Qixtures such as lamps or overhead lighting) can be very useful as a replacement or supplement to lighting Qixtures but can cause issues with white balance if not handled correctly (see Step 7) Method 1.e. plants and other “props” can be moved to create a good looking background but it should always look natural and not contrived. Pay attention to the location and direction of any windows or other light sources. 2. If available light is used.
Remove the baseplate from the tripod. looking up at them) and a higher camera angle can create a “diminished” interviewee (i. A lower camera angle can create an “empowered” interviewee (i. Securely attach the baseplate to the camera. Method 1. NOTE: you may have to push a release button or lever to allow the plate to come off. Even a few centimeters difference up or down can have a noticeable effect on the resulting image so accuracy is important.e. placement of the tripod should be decided and not moved once the following steps are performed. 2.Step 2: Set up tripod/camera Considerations As all lighting is done relative to interviewee/camera relationship. looking down at them). Extend the length of the tripod legs to the approximate length needed. the lens of the camera should be at the same level as the eyes of the interviewee. For a neutral interview style.e. .
Attach the camera to the tripod by sliding forward from the back.3. Diagrams Good neutral angle . 4. Ensure that it is locked on the side before letting go.
Camera too low Camera too high .
Carefully tighten the lock paying close attention to the spirit level. such as a table or shelf. This is usually located at the bottom of the vertical shaft of the tripod. this needs to be done “by eye”. Method 1. This can be achieved by carefully adjusting one leg at a time until a known horizontal edge. Hold the camera with one hand and loosen the lock with the other. If there is no balance adjustment on the tripod you have (as is the case with most still photography tripods). Even 1 degree of roll (horizontal tilt) can have a noticeably detrimental effect on the shot. Most decent video tripods have a spirit level on top as well as a mechanism for balancing the head. This is also very important if camera rotation is done in a shot such as a pan or a tilt. Adjust the tripod head until the bubble of the spirit level is centered. .Step 3: Balance tripod Considerations The level of the camera to the horizontal plane is vital to achieve a natural looking shot. 2. This Step needs to be checked and performed if required every time the camera is moved. can be seen to be properly horizontal in the viewQinder.
If using batteries. check the charge of your batteries before the shoot and ensure you have enough spare batteries to last the duration of the shoot. If needed. check that the lens cap is removed. Method 1. power off the camera when not in use (i. switch the camera from playback mode to camera mode until you see the scene in the viewQinder. You may want to take some gaffer tape to secure the extension cord to the Qloor in any areas where people walk. make sure you have a long enough extension cord to reach the power outlet without causing a tripping hazard.e. . 2. To ensure the longest battery life. If you still cannot see your scene.Step 4: Power on Camera Considerations There are two options for power when using a videocamera: battery and power adaptor. Attach the battery or power supply to the camera and power on. a break or lengthy mid-‐shoot discussion) If using a power adaptor.
By recording over the end of the previous shot. It is always a good idea to record the last shot of the shoot for a little longer than normal to allow for this overlap. If the tape has not been used previously. If mixing card brands and/or types. erase the media through the camera menu. 2. 4. you are ensuring there will be no timecode breaks. The screen will tell you which format is recorded i. it is important that there are no “gaps” in the recording as this can cause timecode breaks which will make capturing the footage in postproduction very difQicult. It is important however. If there are two cards in the camera. repeat this Step for both cards. DV PAL or 1080i50 (HDV) Find the end of the last recording and stop the playback BEFORE the shot fully ends. check which format it is recorded in by playing the tape back in the camera. Check to see if there are any shots that have been previously recorded and have already been transferred to the edit suite. The same type of tape can be used to record in the standard deQinition DV format as well as various types of high deQinition HDV formats. fast forward the tape all the way to the end and then rewind to the start. Method TAPE 1. timecode breaks and mixing formats are not relevant. Another important consideration when using tape is not to mix formats. . If tape is used. If needed. This helps to reduce tape dropouts by removing static or tension issues sometimes present in new tapes. 3. ensure that they are fully compatible with your camera before the shoot by doing a few test shots.e. If a card/hard-‐drive is used. capturing the footage in postproduction becomes very difQicult and confusing. to ensure that any previous shots are removed to enable maximum recording time and avoid duplication in postproduction. If these formats are mixed on one tape. CARD/HARD-‐DRIVE 1. If the tape has been used previously.Step 5: Check status of media Considerations There are two main media recording options in modern cameras: tape and card/hard-‐drive. 2.
Please contact your support team for training in lighting if desired. no suitable available light or light from the wrong direction.Step 6: Set up lighting (optional) Considerations ArtiQicial lighting is often needed in locations that have low light levels. Using artiQicial lighting requires knowledge of power distribution. ArtiQicial lighting can greatly enhance the quality of the recorded image. basic lighting principles and aesthetic requirements. .
This can range from orange for artiQicial tungsten based light. there is more “blue” in the light. there is more “orange” in the light and with a higher temperature. If you are shooting outside. Hold up a piece of white paper (without blue lines) in front of the camera ensuring the light source is hitting the paper. Zoom the camera in so that the white paper Qills the frame (focus is not important) Activate the auto white balance feature of the camera. White balance is measured in degrees kelvin. the camera is not and needs to be adjusted for the light sources present in your scene. With a lower temperature. 4. Wait until the camera tells you that it has succeeded. Tungsten based artiQicial light should give a reading close to 3200K and daylight should give a reading close to 5600K. adjust the exposure (see Step 8) and repeat 3 and 4. green for common Qluorescent sources and blue for daylight. it is usually because of over exposure or under exposure. 5. The human eye is very forgiving to different colours of light. 3.Step 7: White balance camera Considerations White balance refers to the mix of the spectrum that is emitted from the source of light. Computer monitors are also usually very hot (6000K-‐7500K) and a cloudy day can get as high as 10000K. Also. the white balance and exposure will shift dramatically and should be adjusted when this occurs. Method 1. If this is the case. white balance will change gradually over the course of the day and this Step should be done every hour or so. usually a button on the front. if the sun goes behind clouds. If it fails. Examples . 2.
(note the correct colour of the computer monitor) .Good white balance with natural skin tones (note the blue in the computer monitor) Incorrect white balance resulting in orange skin tones -‐ temperature set too high.
.Incorrect white balance resulting in blue skin tones -‐ temperature set too low.
set the zebra pattern level to 70-‐75% Turn on the zebra pattern feature. Simple Method 1.Step 8: Set camera exposure Considerations Camera exposure is best done using the electronic readouts of the camera and if possible. Zoom in to the face of your interviewee if required. Human skin should not exceed 80% luminance. The histogram function provides a graph to show distribution of pixels from black to white. 2. The zebra pattern will overlay diagonal lines on the shot to tell the operator about the level of exposure for different regions of the frame. 5. Adjust the exposure of the camera down until only the brightest part of the face (highlight) shows just a hint of zebra pattern. 3. Set the camera to autoexposure mode and zoom in on the face. All modern video cameras have a feature called “zebra” for this purpose and some have a histogram function as well. 2. Lock the exposure by setting the camera to manual exposure. 4. In the camera menu. should not be done “by eye”. Adjust the exposure of the camera up until the zebra pattern covers the face. Examples . (some cameras will have a “push auto” button which does both of these Steps in one go) Preferred Method 1.
Under exposed -‐ no zebra at 70% Well exposed -‐ 70% zebra only showing on highlights .
Slightly over exposed -‐ 70% zebra extending beyond highlights Over exposed -‐ 70% zebra covering most of face .
If needed.Step 9: Set up sound equipment Considerations Sound is one of the most important parts of a good interview shoot and this is often overlooked. power on the microphone (both receiver and transmitter). Method 1. Attach the microphone to the camera. 2. Other microphones require power from the camera sent down the same XLR cable as the audio. If using a wireless system. the receiver is attached to the camera and the transmitter is attached to the interviewee. If using a wired microphone. Another option is the use of a shotgun microphone which is very directional and should be pointed at the interviewee’s mouth for best results. This is called “phantom power” and is denoted by +48v on the camera. The on-‐camera microphone is the least reliable and should be used only if no other options are available. Some microphones require an AA battery and this should be checked prior to the shoot. The best option for audio recording is the lapel microphone (wired or wireless) that clips onto the interviewee’s shirt. a direct connection is made. check the requirements with your support team before the shoot. . If in doubt.
Method 1. It may be useful to give them a piece of text to read aloud. close to but not hitting the upper most bar of the meter). Examples Very low level -‐ not usable due to high noise ratio Very low level -‐ may be usable with postproduction enhancements Good level -‐ most usable . Ask your interviewee to speak a few lines at their normal talking volume. Adjust the audio input level dials on the camera until the signal sounds loud and clean in the headphones and is showing a good level in the meter. All cameras provide a “level meter” to show the loudness of the input signal. The quality of the sound should always be veriQied by listening through a set of closed ear headphones connected to the camera. 2. The aim is to have the signal as loud as possible without clipping (i. The loudest sound should never peak as indicated by a red marker in the level meter.Step 10: Set audio levels Considerations Any background sound such as air conditioners or loud computer fans should be switched off where possible as this has a detrimental effect on the recording.e.
Peaking level -‐ not usable due to distortion from peaking .
3. Zoom in as close as possible to the interviewees face. 2.Step 11: Focus camera on interviewee Considerations Sharp focus is essential for a good looking picture and this is especially important when using high deQinition as the image usually has more resolution than the viewQinder. one simple method will always ensure accurate focus. By utilising the effect of reduced depth-‐of-‐Qield when zoomed in. Method 1. Zoom out to frame your shot (Step 12) . Adjust the focus by turning the focus ring on the lens until the interviewee is sharp.
Diagrams NOTE: A close up (CU) and medium close up (MCU) have been shown for reference as they are the most common interview shot sizes. Lock off the tripod. The rule of thirds involves cutting the frame into nine segments and centering the interviewee on the 1/3. This usually involves leaving the pan/tilt of the tripod unlocked and holding the tripod handle at all times. This rule also applies to other shot sizes. it is just another interpretation of the balance given when using the rule of thirds. 2. you may experiment with different shot sizes between questions and possibly “following” the interviewee if they move around a lot. Adjust the zoom of the camera as well as the pan and tilt of the tripod until the desired shot is achieved. which has been around since renaissance times. the eyes of the interviewee should be 1/3 down the frame with 2/3 distance between the eyes and the bottom of the frame. 2/3 intersections of these segments. There is a wealth of information available on the web and elsewhere giving good examples of the rule of thirds and general interview framing guides.Step 12: Frame the shot Considerations There are many considerations to take into account when setting framing. 3. If the interviewee is talking to an interviewer off camera. This is known as “looking room”. Method 1. It is also a great idea to actively watch interview programs such as 60 Minutes or the 7:30 Report for examples of good visual balance and framing. Pay special attention to not introduce shake or unnecessary camera movements as these are very distracting for your audience. This term does not mean that there always needs to be “room” above the “head”. Good framing following the rule of thirds and looking room . When more comfortable and adventurous. the rule of thirds is usually employed. Another common method is the concept of “head room”. This changes depending on shot size but as a rule of thumb. This means that the interviewees head is on the 1/3 line of the frame with 1/3 of space behind them and 2/3 of space in front of them. A good looking shot should look natural without the frame making them look too short (too much headroom) or too squashed by the frame (too little headroom).
e.Poor framing -‐ interviewee looks squashed due to too little headroom Poor framing -‐ interviewee looks short due to too much headroom Poor framing -‐ looking room not accounted for (i. more space behind the interviewee than in front) .
These things are often quite easy to Qix on location and next to impossible to remedy in postproduction. . lighting or noise issues. Let the camera run for about 5-‐10 seconds before calling action. Also. Some interviewees can get quite self conscious and nervous. ask for silence and start the camera recording. let the camera continue recording for about 5-‐10 seconds before stopping it. Minimise this risk by only having the necessary people present and also asking the interviewee not to look at the camera or camera operator. If at any time you Qind a problem such as framing. This will assist in postproduction and alleviate any tape issues as detailed in Step 5. Method 1. Being present during set up can exacerbate this. 2. shut the door if possible and if people are making noise outside. 3. speak up and let people know. If a lot of people are sitting off camera other than the interviewer. you may Qind that the interviewee’s eyes wander a lot as they attempt to make eye contact as they are talking.Step 13: Ready to record Considerations The main thing to ensure before shooting is that interruptions are kept to a minimum. sit down and begin. When you are ready. Make sure that all people present have turned off their mobile phones. It may also be a good idea to perform all previous Steps without the interviewee present so they can walk in. ask them to be quiet before starting. when the shoot is done.
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