How to Interview Someone On Camera

Looking for information about how to interview someone on camera? Check out  “Shooting a Documentary Style Interview” by the Slanted Lens. It’s a great overview of the type of promotional video that you could create for a business owner using 2 cameras, 2 microphones and a couple of lights.

Here are my notes from the video:

Create an outline before the interview happens

  • Be sure to include the who, what, when, where and why questions such as:  What is your name, where are you located, main reason they are in business, how do they benefit the community, etc.
  • Outline should cover the main points in the interview and give guidance for the B-roll shots
  • Then write a series of questions that will explain the points listed in the outline

The main subject’s person / personality is the most important, location is the next most important to capture on video

  • If location doesn’t help, then make background out of focus and indiscernible
  • Find a good location or 2 to record interview before everyone arrives

Interview camera setup

  • 2 cameras
    • 1 camera on a wide medium shot, looking straight at subject
    • 1 camera on a close up shot – place on left or right of medium wide shot camera depending on which way you want the subject to look.  For example, if the subject is looking to the right , place close up cam to the right and the interviewer stands very close to the right of this camera.
    • Cameras will run simultaneously
    • video interview tips camera and light setup

      Interview Camera Setup Diagram generated with

  • Have subject look directly at you and not back and forth at cameras. They should lock their eyes on you so as not to seem nervous or shifty.

Lighting setup for interview

  • Depending on location, you may not need lighting
  • In the video mentioned above, they shot outside with flat even light and used a bounce card with single soft light to brighten the face of the subject

Sound setup for interview

  • 2 sound sources
    • 1 Sennheiser lavalier microphone connected to a Zoom Recorder
    • 1 shotgun microphone on a boom as a second backup audio source

Before the interview starts, let the subject know that the audience will only hear their responses and won’t hear you ask them the question.

  • This means that the subject will most likely need to repeat the question with the answer.
    • Ex. Q:  How long have you been in business? A: I have been in business building widgets in College Station for 23 years.
    • Keep coming back to the question until the response from the subject feels comfortable
    • When a question sparks emotion, follow it up with similar questions
    • Always look at the subject when they are talking…don’t look at notes, cameras, gear, etc.
    • Make it seem conversational, laugh with them

B-roll is critical

  • B-roll are segments of video without sound that help to illustrate the story or subject’s responses
  • Can include interesting low angle shots, crane or dolly shots…interesting stuff
  • Using a crane or camera slider with high-quality tripod takes b-roll to a whole new level
  • Make sure you have video shots for everything that the subject talks about in the interview…and also shots with family, at work…always be shooting…don’t turn the camera off
  • Timelapse videos filmed with a GoPro camera or two in the area while interview and b-roll shoots are going on can also help fill in the interview

Watch the Source Video for My Notes:

My Result:

Here are some pictures of the lighting and camera set up:

how to interview someone on camera lighting set up

how to interview someone on camera lighting and camera set up

how to interview someone on camera lighting set up 2

Additional thoughts:

  • Details of equipment used can be found on this page…see #7
  • It took about 2 hours to record all interviews and a couple of hours to put together the initial rough cut of the video using iMovie for the iPad.  It took about 3 days of going back and forth with client to complete final video.  This is much shorter than many weeks that it takes with traditional video communications crew.
  • Even though we were close to large windows, the extra lighting helped to better illuminate the subjects and provide specular highlights on eyes and fill light in eye sockets and under nose and chin.
  • Some people move their hands a lot while on camera.  I am glad that I chose to frame most of the shots so that the hands were just off frame.
  • Make sure all background noise like HVAC systems and cell phones are turned off for better audio quality.
Photo Credit for Featured Image at top of Page: Chan, M. (n.d.). Interview. Retrieved June 12, 2016, from
In Category: Videography

Treye Rice

Howdy, my name is Treye. I am the author of this blog. In my professional life, I design websites and then find the best way to market them in search engines and on social media. I also teach large and small groups about search engine optimization, social media marketing and quick-to-market video production. In my private life, I have an amazing wife and two wonderful children. We live in College Station, Texas. Follow me on Twitter for updates and links to my photos, videos and art.

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