The Basics of Mastering An Online Video Interview

Last week we discussed the importance of video for organizing.  GWA managing director Talia Whyte hosted an exciting webinar recently on basic video journalism.  Below she shares some tips on conducting video interviews.

In the many years I have been a journalist, I have had the opportunity to interview some fascinating people, many of whom are well-respected social activists in their fields.  Most recently I interviewed two very engaging subjects – TMS Ruge of Project Diaspora and printmaker Favianna Rodriguez.

Here are some basic tips on mastering a video interview:

1. Check Your Video Equipment: Before you do a video interview, you want to check out your equipment.  Do you need an external microphone or extra batteries?  Will you be shooting in a dark space or will there be a lot of noise?  As discussed here before about audio reporting, make sure you are prepared for every possible situation.

2. Prepare Questions: When your equipment is set, do research on the kinds of questions you want to ask the subject.  With the convenience of the Internet, you can pretty much find information about anybody very quickly.  It is also a good idea to review previous interviews about the subject so you don’t ask repetitive questions.  You should ask your most important questions first.  In many cases, the subject may have limited time to do an interview with you.  Even if you only get to ask one question, make sure it is your best question.

3. Shooting the Interview: Whether you are using a mobile phone or a more traditional video camera, make sure the subject can be properly seen and heard.  In both videos here I am both the camera person and interviewer, so the camera is right in front of the subject.  I am also standing while shooting the videos with a tripod.  Always use a tripod in every situation!

4. Shooting B-roll: In some situations you want to use b-roll – alternative footage intercut with footage from an interview or documentary.  B-roll is used for giving more context to an interview, or it could also cover any bad spots in an interview.  I didn’t feel the need to use b-roll in the Ruge interview.  However, it made sense to add b-roll to the Rodriguez interview as a great deal of the video deals with her artwork and viewers would have a better understanding of what she was talking about.  Generally after an interview, I shoot b-roll footage based on what was discussed beforehand.

5. Back it all up: Once you have successfully recorded your video, don’t forget to immediately back up or sync your material on a computer or cloud system, especially if it was recorded on a mobile phone.  It will relieve you of any stress later on.

Posted in Films and filmmaking, Online Journalism, Video, YouTube and tagged , , , , .

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