How to Create Pro Video Interviews without Pro Video Gear

Video interviews are the ultimate kind of interview as your viewers get to see the body language and facial expressions of your subject.

For this reason it is important to do a good job! There is nothing more frustrating than trying to watch an interesting video when the quality of the production is bad!

What should you record a video interview with?

Which camera for filming interviews

In this day and age your options for recording film are huge. Of course at the top of the range you have professional video cameras and DSLR’s. Some fairly standard DSLR’s like the Canon 600D have fantastic video quality for interviews and straight shots. Likewise, even your iPhone and many small handheld cameras can film in HD quality.

How to produce a great video without pro gear

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1. Use a tripod

Using a tripod to steady your camera

You can even get little tripods for your iPhone! If you don’t want to fork out the big bucks you can get small gorilla grip desk tripods that will cover you for most still interview situations.

If you don’t have a tripod, find a way to prop your camera up still and straight. A camera can get very heavy 5 or 10 minutes into an interview and even the most sober people tend to have a little sway!

2. Choose a good visual location

Before you even think of pushing record, look through the viewfinder and analyse the location. Is there something distracting behind your subject? Is there half a picture or painting in view? Or a partial couch or chair? Does the colour of the wall clash with their shirt?

A safe bet for beginner interview locations is against a plain coloured wall (that does not clash with their clothing). If you have one that suits try adding in a plant or lamp beside them.

3. Ensure Great lighting

Great lighting will transform your interview! It is crucial that your subjects face is well lit.

First choice for lighting is free – natural light! Find a place that is drenched in natural light and you will have great lighting for your interview.

Unless you have pro lighting, natural light should always be your first choice for interviews. In the early morning/dawn or late afternoon/dusk you can get beautiful warm light – when the sun is high in the middle of the day you will find a much harsher light that is too bright for a good video and your subject will have to squint.

If natural light is not available, then camera lights become crucial. Camera lights can cost as little as twenty dollars through to hundreds of dollars. But you may have what you need around the house, grab flexible necked desk lamps and any lamps you may have in the shed or the boot of the car for emergencies.

When lighting a subject indoors, you need to a) light their face and b) manage/light any shadows that the subject casts on the space behind them.

4. Be a Stickler for Sound

Sound will make or break your interview! It doesn’t matter how scintillating the interview is if you have to strain to hear what they are saying then the interview will suck for your audience.

If you are going to invest in one thing to go with your camera of choice it should be a microphone. A quality microphone can transform your interview quality.

I personally love Rode Mics who have a huge range of awesome mics for a variety of uses. Also worth borrowing other peoples mic’s and testing them out before you buy.

Practice checking the levels of your recording – if your subject is peaking (too loud) you can’t really fix that – so test the sound first – preferably before your interview!

5. Choose a good sound location

When choosing your location you also need to judge the ambient noise. Test the recording and listen to it back. Can you hear distant construction noise or traffic? Is there a dog barking? Finding a good sound and light location will be one of the most important tasks in preparing for your interview.

Plan like a pro

As you can see, it is important that even if you don’t have pro gear for your video interview, that you plan like a pro! If you only have limited time with your subject, make sure you plan plenty of time before you meet to scout out a suitable place for filming.

A little planning, a little understanding and some basic gear will vastly improve the results you get from your video interview.

Regardless of your intended result, a better quality will make your videos more watchable and shareable and help your audience focus on the content and interviewee, and of course, on how much they love your content.