3 Things I learnt from doing video interviews

It’s been a while but I am still amused and inspired by my meeting with Casey Spooner at Melbourne Festival. During a hectic but very enjoyable “brand immersion day” with Beck’s I was able to meet Casey back stage. The camera work is a bit wobbly and Casey had a funny way of rambling and theorizing. Still, I was lucky to get a lot of shots during their performance without getting pulled by the bouncers. Practically half the audience was recording with mobile phones and cameras at any given point (makes clapping your hands after a song difficult).

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This interview was the first for Beck’s Uberselektor with Alex Barck from my (student day) heroes Jazzanova. Alex and his crew have sonified many of my Thursday nights at the WMF in Berlin. It was clerarly a rubbish idea to only bring the camera and no separate microphone (I think we didn’t even have one at the time).

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Roland Appel is from equally good pedigree in terms of electronic music, creating some memorable tracks under the names of Truby Trio and Fauna Flash. He is easily as friendly, approachable and professional as Alexander and a pleasure to interview. Both interviews were done at Future Classic’s studio/office space in Redfern.

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Top things I learnt doing these interviews:

People like to ramble.
The more to the point your question, the better they get in coming to the point. Although, Germans love to over-explain and analyse. The more energy you put into your questions and into the exchange, the more energy you will get out of your interviewees. Use open questions like “Take me through this experience”. Don’t hesitate to redo a question if the people lost their train of thought – the second time they will feel more comfortable with the topic and have a more polished version.

You cannot ignore bad sound
Unless you go beserk with the camera people will tolerate a bad zoom or pan in an online video. Bad sound cannot be ignored, especially on the computer where the output device is weak in the first place and mostly played in a noisy environment. Headphones and earplugs might help but you cannot bank on people having them ready or care enough to plug them in. Watch out for background sounds that interfere with the voices.

Edit your own shit
Unless you start editing you never fully understand what you have missed filming and what you can do better next time. Shoot the extra scene of your interviewee getting ready, heading out or something else that can serve as a “cut away” scene. Nobody enjoys a talking head for more than 20 seconds online. Underscore visually what the people are talking about.

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5 responses to “3 Things I learnt from doing video interviews

  1. “Germans love to over-explain and analyse.” – That’s true. I even know a German guy who analysed the way he shot three video interviews…

  2. As you might also feel from first hand experience, writing about something is a good way of deepening a learning experience.

  3. Yes, I’m only teasing.

  4. I know. By the way, really enjoyed all your interviews for COFA, good insights and fabulous camera work (am I teasing?).

  5. Thanks. I’m not sure if you’re teasing or not. Was that last sentence laden with irony? (I thought Rachel did a good job on the camera and editing did she not?)

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