Setting up for an interview

When testing it is important to have tests on a real face before the talent arrives.

In a previous post Chris discussed how you can best prepare for an interview with some useful tips and tricks. But it is important to know that the interview process doesn’t start as soon as the ‘Talent’ arrives, it actually begins with setting up the equipment.

Note the whiteboards and tables being used to block out the natural light from windows that have no curtains.

We don’t always have the luxury of filming in our studio with our known setup, we often have to pack up our gear and travel to a designated location by the client. Filming isn’t a point and shoot job as soon as we arrive, first we have to assess the room for the optimal shot.
Ideally you want a nice backdrop in the room to add some colour/interest to the shot e.g a bookcase with many different coloured books or a vase full of flowers, but as you can see from the photos in this entry, sometimes you have to work with a plain white room. This is where lighting magic is needed.

Before setting up the studio lights we need to block out as much natural light as we can, which between the photos you can see we have done this with shades, a whiteboard, tables etc. because mixing natural and studio lighting can often lead to exposure issues. Then we set up the studio lights with the goals of 1. Lighting the subjects face appropriately, 2. Removing shadows caused by the microphones or the subject themselves, and 3. To adjust the backdrop colour, as a white wall can make the subject too pale, or a dark backdrop can make them look too dark.

This shot is from the same room as above, using the lights we were able to change the white wall to a blue gradient effect.

We then have to get the microphone into place just above the subjects head, so that it is out of the camera shot, but still close enough to pick up the subject talking.

Clearly we can’t have this 100% ready to go by the time the interviewee arrives, because the setup depends on the person’s height, how loudly they talk etc. but we try to get as close as possible by testing it on a member of our crew first, to try save as much of the subjects time as possible once they have arrived. The top photo is of me slouching in my chair trying to replicate the height of the interviewee (Who happened to be slightly shorter than I am). This means as soon as they arrive, only minimal changes are needed to the audio levels, camera angle, and microphone height once the subject has sat in their chair, and then we can rip straight into the interview.