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  • Jake Kindred

Interview video shoots - a look into the equipment

When tackling a video interview shoot, it’s important to pre-visualise what you want the interview to look like before even setting foot on-set. Determining what look, mood and visual style you want to achieve should be a fundamental part of the discussions during the pre-production process, as in turn this dictates what equipment you need to bring with you on the shooting day. Visual references, storyboards, and mood boards amongst others are a great way to communicate what type of interview look you want. I love having these conversations with producers and directors ahead of a shoot, as it’s a great opportunity to delve into the creative opportunities and how to put logistics to them.



Cinematic interview shoot setup

 

Having the ability to do a recce of the site or filming location beforehand is always beneficial, as it always the Director of Photography to see first-hand what equipment and lighting might be needed to achieve the brief in the intended space. Being able to see the practical house lights in the space, or how the sun will shine, or not shine, into the space - avoiding unwanted glares and harsh beams of sunlight in the shot during an interview. But if a recce isn’t an option, then having a selection of photos of the space from different angles, and ideally at the different times of the time that your intending to shoot the interviews, goes a long way!

 

Once this has been signed off, I can then advise on what equipment and kit we’d need to bring on the shoot – whether that be from my array of in-house video production equipment or sourced externally from one of my trusted rental suppliers. 

 

My Sony FX6 and Sony FX30 cinema cameras are industry-leading 4k video cameras, highly regarded as being some of the most flexible and versatile cameras available for the low-mid budget video production industry. They produce a beautiful cinematic image with a small physical footprint, as well as being fantastic in low light and dark situations. However, shooting on a more advanced cinema camera, such as the Arri Alexa Mini or the RED Raven with dedicated cinema lenses will help produce an image of another quality – again this is something I can help source for your shoot should you need. I also have a wide variety of camera sliders, gimbals, tripods, audio equipment and microphones to name but some. I can also offer some nice added extras onto the equipment packages, such as an autocue/teleprompter, a wireless directors monitor, or a 4-way multi-cam monitor for easy client viewing!




 

I also have available a variety of prime lenses, including the Sigma Art 85mm f/1.4. These types of lenses are great for shooting interviews, as the low aperture of f/1.4 allows you to achieve beautiful depth of field within the background of your subject – capturing those majestic blurry backgrounds and dazzling bokeh.

 

Lighting equipment is also a very important factor to consider, this is what shapes the look and feel of the interview and is pivotal to achieving the style of interview you desire. 

I own a variety of bi-colour lighting within my full lighting kit, this is particularly useful as one of the biggest challenges shooting in office buildings is working with and balancing the pre-existing office lighting commonly present in corporate office buildings.

Having the ability to change the colour and temperature of our film lights means that we can match our interview lighting to that of the ambient lighting within an office building, industrial workshop or theatre for example, resulting in a much more appealing and flattering image. It also allows us to be much more flexible as to where we can physically shoot the interview.

 

But it’s not all about the high-powered lighting! More in-expensive and make-shift items can be valuable when trying to achieve a certain look. For instance, I use big sheets of duvetyn to cover up windows that are letting in unwanted light, or to cover up white walls that are causing a distraction in the image. Equipment such as a softbox or a diffusion dome to place over your lights to create soft, diffused light on your interview subject. Reflectors, mini LED panels and different textured fabrics can all come in handy in different shooting situations, and they’re always on the back of my van in case they are ever needed!



Audio can often be overlooked, but if you get it wrong, it can ruin a beautifully shot interview. Nobody wants to be listening to tinny or distorted audio. To avoid this, I like to use a wireless lapel mic on our subject hidden under their clothing as well as another microphoned boomed in overhead on a stand. Having two channels of audio not only gives you a layer of redundancy when shooting your interviews, but mixing both the lapel microphone audio and the boom microphone audio in post-production helps in achieving a refined and professional sounding interview dialogue. I am often paired up with an audio recordist for shoots where audio requirements are more complex, and I have great contacts and connection in that area to which I am happy to provide recommendations if you need to crew up before a shoot.  

 

Scheduling also plays a big part in how big or small we can go with the scale of the lighting and equipment setup. We can do a lot more, and setup a more advanced lighting setup if we’re shooting two interviews per day in one location, as opposed to shooting 4 or 5 interviews per day in separate locations, where we’d have to look at either having a larger crew or scaling back the setup to be more time efficient. The more time we have to setup, the more advanced we can go with the lighting setup – in some circumstances we may even look to have a pre-light or a build day separately to the shooting day if we’re looking at a complex shooting scenario.

 

Apurture are a company at the forefront of cinema and video lighting manufacturing, producing LED lighting that is commonly used in both small budget productions and huge multi-million Hollywood movies alike. Innovating at the early onset of the more practical LED light fixtures around 2016, they offer a range of great quality lighting to suit different needs.

I own a few different fixtures from Aputure, including the Apurture 300x which is a powerful bi-colour film light which I use on almost every shoot I go on!

 

When it comes to the filming day and getting the equipment into location, we’ll always try and get the kit van as close to the nearest access point as possible to load the kit out. The equipment is stacked onto trolleys and wheeled into the location, to which we can then move the kit van into a suitable parking space. We’d then ideally repeat the same process in reverse to load the kit out once we’re down with a successful day’s filming.

 

There are obviously a lot of other factors to consider also when shooting an interview. This includes:

  • The location, and whether it suits both the practical visual and audio needs. For instance, will the location need to be dressed? Will there need to be involvement from a dedicated art department?

  • Preparing the interview subject and questions, making sure they are suitable and will achieve the desired answers.

  • Hair, make up and wardrobe for the interview subject.



Insurance should never be overlooked; you can never be too cautious. Not only does the value of the kit run into the tens of thousands, but if a piece of kit was to breakdown or have issues, it’s important to be able to get a speedy replacement in preparation for the next shoot. That’s why I have all my inhouse equipment fully insured for any eventuality, both in the UK and overseas.

 

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My name is Jake and I am a professional cinematographer, videographer and camera operator based in Birmingham and the Midlands, working throughout the UK. I work on various corporate and commercial video, including adverts, brand films, recruitment films and promos, as well as music videos, documentaries, and narrative projects.

I own and maintain a variety of my own in-house cinema and video equipment, and I have great relationships with rental and hire companies.

 

Please get in touch if you would like me to get involved with your next project.

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