Positioning for Success

woman on a video interview

Today we’re going to take a dive into setting up an interview. The emotion and credibility provided by a good interview can be the difference between a decent video and a great one.  However, there’s more to a good interview than sitting someone down and asking them questions. We’ve covered this topic in our FAQ series to help our clients who are interested in filming themselves make the best possible videos. Here are some useful tips to remember for your next interview.

Let’s talk about something that can be one of the most crucial decisions you make when setting up the shot and that is the choice of seating. Many people look around their office and grab whatever chair is readily available. While it might be convenient, sometimes chairs can look good to the eye but on camera they can be highly distracting. High-back chairs, big recliners, and other ornate chairs have a bad habit of engulfing the person on screen. They can make them look small or surrounded. More problematic is that they may cause bad posture from the person being filmed. No matter how much work you do to set up the scene correctly, it can all be destroyed by a bad chair.

We recommend using simple chairs with low backs, or even stools which do not have a back at all. The goal is to keep it as subtle as possible. Try to remember that the talent’s comfort isn’t the goal, but rather to get the best possible shot. A chair which doesn’t distract and encourages good posture will pay dividends in the end. If the subject asks to switch the seat for something more comfortable, you should be accommodating, but you can always offer the creative direction of why you made the choice that you did. In the end, it will come down to whether they prefer the quality of the video for their posterity, or the level of comfort for their posterior.

The next important thing to remember is where that seat is located. More often than not, people find the easiest place to set the chair, or leave it where it was originally. Again, while convenient, it rarely makes for a good shot. The goal should be to put them as far away from the wall that is behind them as possible. This provides depth, allowing for them to be in focus, while the background is soft making a much more appealing and less visually distracting shot. After all, if you’re interviewing someone, you want the audience to focus on what that person is saying, and not on what books they have on their bookshelf.

Finally, consider the talent’s body position. The goal is to help the talent appear more visually interesting. We simply rotate the talent’s chair slightly, typically favoring the position of the camera. This will point the talent’s body toward the camera, which will then cause them to turn their head slightly to face the interviewer. This should be a very slight rotation, as you don’t want them looking too much to their side. If done correctly, the body will just barely favor the camera and the face will favor the interviewer. This simple act makes the talent look far more dynamic.  Again, this is not something that must be done, but can add a whole level of depth to the look of the shot, rather than having a head on conversation. It will give a subliminal indication that the audience (the camera’s perspective) is welcomed as a part of the conversation. Just remember to keep it subtle.

There you have it, a helpful set of tricks for you to try in your next Interview. But if you find yourself looking for more help to make a professional quality video, you can always email us at video@ciesc.org, or call 317-550-2228.