**AUTHOR’S NOTE** I first wrote this article in September, 2014. Having now done hundreds of interview videos since then, the 6 points I detailed in 2014 take on even greater meaning, so I thought I’d “rebroadcast” the post. I would also add a seventh point: When speaking in front of a camera, it isn’t necessary to try to remember a long passage or thought! When you get to a point where you’re not sure what you want to say next, just pause–while still looking at the same spot–collect your thoughts, and continue. Seasoned pros know this neat little trick and now, you do too! Your editor will love you because editing your session will be much simpler when there are pauses that can be easily put together, creating a nice, cohesive interview!
About a year ago, I wrote on my blog about giving a great interview, in which I tapped into my friend Steve Cooper’s article (hitchedmag.com) for some terrific insights. Recently, I shot interview-type videos for a number of corporate and non-profit clients and it sparked a few new thoughts that are worth sharing, for the next time you are asked to be interviewed on camera.
- Get comfortable! Make sure that—while attractive to the camera (viewing audience)—your clothing is comfortable. If it’s too tight or binding, it can contribute to your voice sounding constrained. If you’re nervous in front of a camera, an overly snug outfit will only compound the nervousness.
- Know your subject material. Create a list of talking points. Notes (as opposed to a script) will allow the conversation to flow smoothly and sound more “normal.” Unless you have expertise working with a teleprompter, I recommend not using one. Also, this is NOT a “gotcha” interview, so I want my subject to be well informed.
- I typically recommend the “off camera” style, as if you were talking with someone you know. You’re just “having a conversation.” Plus, off camera interviews pull the subject’s attention away from the camera equipment.
- Practice starting your responses. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to coach subjects to NOT start every response with ‘um,’ ‘uh,’ ‘like,’ and the dreaded ‘so.’
- Shoot with multiple angles and perspectives. Often, I shoot with two cameras to accomplish this. A single medium close-up shot can be a bit monotonous, unless you are going for a very specific look! Even if you only have one camera, you can (should) vary the angles and perspectives of the interview. It will be far more interesting. “60 Minutes” set the standard for this approach.
- Shoot “cutaways” (sometimes called “b-roll”) of other interesting areas that support the interview that can be edited into the final product. Again, this helps keep the interest level up and boredom to a minimum.
And finally, start with the end in mind. Even a short interview has a “story arc,” and by knowing where you want the interview to finish, it will simplify the presentation from beginning to end!
In my May 21st blog, last year (“Can you give me a ‘ballpark’ quote?”), I broke down the elements of a video production to illustrate what goes into a bid for a project. In that article, I mentioned that post-production is a subject that should have its own story, so here it comes today!
To review, the components that play into how a job is priced includes:
So let’s unpack that last one: Post production. A simplistic definition would describe it as everything that happens after production wraps, leading up to the delivery of the finished video product. It’s only when we drill down further that we find out what that really means…
- Editing. The art of taking the raw footage—with its audio—and turning it into something useful. I believe too many on the “client side” have limited understanding of what goes into good editing, especially the time it takes to do it right. And there is NO correlation between the aggregate time of the source footage and a finished sequence. Even if the desired time for a video is one minute, it could take hours (or even days) to whittle a lot of raw footage into that really special promo/talking head/commercial piece! A good shooter will capture footage with editing in mind (especially if it’s the same person doing both tasks), but editing is still the process that can take the most time*.
- Audio. This subject actually has two definitions. The first pertains to adjustments that are often necessary to “sweeten” the audio captured with the source footage. Depending on the quality of that sound, it may not require much work—but it can! A good editor typically has an audio application just as robust as the editing program and I’m pleased to have the Adobe suite that includes Audition, in my workflow arsenal. Nothing can undermine a video like bad audio, so major attention needs to be paid to this crucial element. The second context pertains to the music bed that sometimes rides under the video. This sound track should complement the tone of the visuals and NEVER compete with it. We’ve all seen videos with the audio track WAY TOO LOUD (yes, I’m yelling!), and even with volume controls, an audio track should never overwhelm any spoken word in the video.
- Titles, Graphics & Effects. Call this the “glue” that brings everything together, “TG&E” make for a nice opening and closing to your video. Effects should never be so dramatic that they become a distraction; they should be an enhancement to your presentation.
I hope this addresses the point that creating a video is comprised of many moving parts. Make sure your video production company understands them all and can pull the “pieces of the puzzle” together into a cohesive, compelling video!
Happy New Year!
* I am often asked how long it takes to edit a project. And while there is no specific answer (no dodge here!), reputable sources (plural) say that it can take from 1 to 5 hours to produce 1 minute of finished video. The range represents the complexity of the edit; the more elements (footage, graphics, titles, music, effects, rendering, color correction and others) the longer it will take. In the context of the “ballpark quote” article, post production can easily be equal to—or even higher than—the cost of production itself.
**NOTE** This article was originally published last July, but as I’ve been doing lots of “talking head” interviews and testimonial shoots lately, I thought it timely to re-share a neat story of how to help non-professional on-camera talent to get comfortable in front of the camera.
One of the kindest testimonials I’ve received came from Elizabeth Fairchild, of Accurate Background, here in Orange County. I was tasked to shoot a series of interviews of company employees representing various departments, and the videos would be used as part of their exhibit at a national human resources convention. Some of the candidates were very comfortable being in front of a camera; others, not so comfortable. There are a number of techniques that I use to distract an interviewee from the camera and related equipment, and aside from some warm-up banter before we begin, we tried to focus on what excites them about their position in the company. I often roll the camera before we “start” because sometimes, you can get some real gems in the commentary. I also use the off camera style of interview popularized by shows like “60 Minutes” because again, if the interviewee is looking and speaking to a person, they tend to be less conscious of the gear in the room. Introverts present their own challenges, but by investing a little extra time, once these folks open up, their contributions are truly invaluable!
Part of Liz’s testimonial follows, and the next time you want to schedule interviews for your company or organization, give First Impressions Video a call! If you want to read her entire compliment, scroll down through the comments on my home page, and you can see it there.
“The day Terry came into film went off without a hitch. We had scheduled a full day of interviews with eleven employees. For many of them, this was their first time in front of the camera, and they were quite nervous. Terry did a great job making each interviewee feel comfortable – offering advice on how to ignore the camera and coaching them through their responses. At wrap, I think everyone felt like Terry was a part of our company family, and we were able to capture natural, authentic testimonials.”
With so much going on in digital marketing these days, it might be easy to forget about organic search, or just dismiss it as being too difficult to execute–especially with so many updates to Google’s search algorithm. I should know. As many who read my blog are aware, I spent over a decade in digital marketing of all sorts and types, before starting the video business. So here’s my take or organic search: it still works!!
Yesterday, I shot a funeral for a family. It was a very moving ceremony and was held at Forest Home Memorial Park in Glendale. I received a call about a week before the service from a photographer friend of the family asking if I was available. He was a pleasant gentleman and I could tell that we both had the right kind of sensitivity in our approach to this unique assignment, so I agreed. Through several calls and emails, I forgot to ask him how he found me, since we didn’t know each other, but I was able to ask after the service and he said, “I Googled you!” Understanding search queries, I asked further, what search terms (keywords) he used? His reply, “I Googled ‘funeral videography orange county.’ ”
I was very pleased at this revelation as it proves positively the value and importance of good search engine optimization (SEO). I ran the same query this morning and found this search result:
First Impressions Video appeared–after the ads, that I don’t buy–in the first four positions of the search engine results page (SERP), and the map! I think it’s safe to say that I would likely NOT have received the call that turned into a nice piece of business had I not invested the necessary time to optimize my website.
No matter what your business is, taking the time to build robust SEO for your website can be…no, should be…a critical component of your overall digital marketing strategy. Do not overlook organic search…it is a cornerstone to effective online visibility!
First Impressions Video wishes everyone a safe, sane and Happy Independence Day! And while we are enjoying all the activities of the day, let’s be sure to take a moment to reflect on the true meaning of the holiday, and make sure that we NEVER take our independence for granted!
When you run a small business, you wear a LOT of hats! One of the things that must be done in contemporary business is to ensure that your business can be found when people are searching online for the product or service you offer. So imagine my elation to discover this today, when doing a search for “video production”
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an ongoing activity and many business owners use outside agencies to help get these kinds of results. I am fortunate to have spent the last decade in digital marketing before launching First Impressions Video. SEO is also very fluid and tomorrow my rankings can change–good or bad. But after working at this for quite a while, it’s nice to see Google “smiling at my website” today! Full disclosure: there were three listings that preceded First Impressions Video in the search results, but one was a generic Yelp listing with no specific company cited; the second was for Costa Mesa Television, which is not a video production business and the third was a directory page of the “top 15 video production services in Costa Mesa.” None of those was a stand-alone business.
Funerals and memorial services are tough. They are full of emotion as the families and loved ones grieve for the one that passed away. I have commented about memorials before, and the absolute need for discretion and sensitivity when shooting them. So I am always deeply gratified when I get comments like the one I just got from a family whose mother passed away last year. And the impact was truly amplified when I got a “heads up” from the officiating pastor that the son of the decedent would be seeing his own son—and his family—from whom he had been estranged for quite a number of years! Here is the testimonial:
“Words cannot express how thankful we were for your availability and to beautifully capture Marie’s memorial service last October. For Jim (Russell), as a pastor it was great to ask you to watch for certain interactions and then to let them develop. For John (and I) and Danny, it began the process of restoring their relationship which has since, been such a blessing.
Thank you again. Many blessings to you!”
Administrative Assistant to
Mike Erre, Lead Pastor
And this is why I love doing what I do!