Kontakt Video Spotlight #03:
Interview Styles Analyzed

January 30th, 2022 – In this blog post we wanted to break down and analyze some of the different interview filming techniques we use, why we use them and what purpose they best serve in telling our clients stories.

#1 – Off Camera Interviews

The most traditional way to capture an interview is the “Off-Camera” technique. If your message is intended to be more factual, like for a brand story video, then it’s usually best to film in this classic documentary style. It’s more natural and spontaneous when the subject is being interviewed by someone we don’t see. The sense of ‘eavesdropping’ a conversation also makes it feel more authentic. The viewers feel as if they’re listening to a candid conversation unfold, rather than feeling as if they’re actively participating in it. For most of our commercial or corporate productions the interviewer is never revealed and, only when absolutely necessary, will you hear their voice ask a question. The participant provides responses with full context, and we usually do multiple takes and cut between them to fix any mistakes in delivery. Here are a few examples:

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Still frame from a shoot with Bell Canada. This was an interior office location with a high key lighting setup and a cooler feel for Ghyslain’s interview.
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Still frame from a shoot with King Cole Kitchens. This was an interior kitchen location and we left lots of room on the left side of Scott's frame for his lower third name graphic.
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Still frame from a Knights of Columbus shoot. This was an interior church location with a window in the background, we used additional fill and back lights inside to even and brighten the room for Sister Bernadette's interview.

#2 – To Camera Interviews

If you are giving a direct message to people, then the “To Camera” technique is ideal with the speaker looking straight into the lens and making direct eye contact with viewers. We use this for someone filming a video message for an online event, a business leader talking to their staff about a particular issue, or appealing directly to potential investors like we did here with Flex M – a Singapore based Fintech startup entering the Canadian market:

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We shot indoors with mixed lighting giving a bright warm even look, with Naveed and Mehek speaking directly to the camera to connect with their audience.
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Their agency in Norway wanted a wider 4K frame so they could punch in for close ups in post, and a shallow depth of field so we used a 50mm portrait lens at f1.4.

In this technique the interviewee is usually in the center of the camera frame. If the script is long we can set up a Teleprompter in front of the lens so they can read the exact copy. Also, for more advanced “To Camera” interviews we can use an Interrotron, a mirrored rig where the subject can maintain eyeline to the lens and see their interviewer on a screen before it.

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Here's another "To Camera" frame from a shoot with Bayer.

#3 – The Hosted Conversation

We use this news style technique for filming a person being interviewed by a host for press junkets and Livestreams. This approach presents both the interviewer and interviewee on-camera enabling the audience to not only listen to, but actually watch the host interact with the subject which can make an interview feel more dynamic.  We usually film this in a three camera setup – a wide shot showing both the host and subject in frame, a close up of the interviewer and a close up of the interviewee.

For our client Sickids we used 3 cameras for their Livestream Production at their hospital in Toronto to capture these 3 angles:
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A Camera - Close Up Interviewer
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B Camera - Close Up Interviewee
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C Camera - Two Shot Wide

#4 – Mixed Style Interviews

There are no rules in film. So sometimes we mix up these styles and have the subject speaking to one camera, and have the other off to the side with traditional documentary feel and framing. For our shoot with McDonalds we had our subject filmed by our 2 cameras in this way:

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A Camera - To Camera Medium Close Up
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B Camera - Off Camera Medium Close Up

Having two or more cameras filming your interview means you can cut seamlessly from one angle to the other.  This is powerful because when editing you can eliminate any speaking mistakes by talent, and also take out any ‘ums’ or long pauses. 

Kontakt is here to help tell your story. Contact us today to help you film your next interviews!

Look for more Video Spotlights in the coming months and let us know if there’s a specific topic you’d like us to cover!

Copyright Adam Bialo | Kontakt Films | 2021