I’m editing a series of videos for a Fortune 500 global company.  They had crews from around the world shoot these.  I’ve seen some really good stuff, and some not so good.  So in today’s blog, here’s some problems to avoid.

Shooting subject against a window might look good to your eye, but is a very tricky lighting situation.  There can be a difference of 5 or more stops between the ambient light on your subject and what’s outside that window.  So if you expose for the subject, the window is blown out.  If you expose for the window, your subject is dark.  With good lighting, you can get the exposure of your subject even with the outside exposure.  With this big editing job, I had about ten interviews sent in against windows.  One was lit nicely.  Half weren’t lit at all.

  • Your eye is drawn to the brightest thing on the screen.  So choose your background and light accordingly.
  • Avoid two person interview.  Two people on camera is problematic.  Do you stay in a two camera?  What if they talk over each other?  The other person not talking is reading her notes.  When she’s talking, the other guy is staring out the window.  Go ahead and shoot one.  Then shoot the other.
  • Find the quietest location.  However, if the location is not quiet, let’s go ahead and see what’s causing the noise.  For instance, if you’re interviewing someone on the factory floor, let’s see the machinery in the background that’s making the noise.  If you’re in a call center, let’s see people on phones in the background.  But it’s preferable to always find a quiet spot.  If it’s noisy, record some ambient noise to help cover edits in post.
  • Don’t let the subject sit in a swivel chair.  They will rock and roll all through the interview.
  • With the new DSLR’s and the shallow depth of field they bring, you can often roll that background out of focus.  This is good.  It also means, don’t sweat so much what’s in the background.