Two Cameras, Time Code, and You: The SolidLine 2-Camera Interview
By Greg Vass, Executive Producer
Over the past 8 years here at SolidLine Media, we have produced a lot of videos. Educational videos, promotional videos, training videos, even direct response television commercials. No matter what our clients dream up, we execute on the ‘big screen’ with creativity and technological innovation. Our capabilities are vast, and the variety of our production work definitely showcases just how ‘vast’ we can get.
One thing that you will see in a ton of our videos is interviews, or testimonials. The human element certainly helps to ‘sell’ a product or service, or to add credibility to a training or educational topic. Interviews can be quite powerful. But they can also be boring, longwinded, and can quickly lose the attention of the viewing audience. This, of course, is something that nobody wants to happen. And the good news is that it doesn’t have to.
I know from my experience at SolidLine Media and in the production industry that our clients are always going to want to include interviews and testimonials in their video productions. After all, we’ve conducted over 1,000 interviews in the last 8 years. Don’t get me wrong, I do agree they can be very powerful, persuasive, and informative, but only if they are executed correctly. And perfect execution is why SolidLine has become a premiere production house in this country.
To understand how to film a successful interview you must first understand the basics of interview filming. A typical interview set-up includes 1 camera, 3 to 4 lights, and a boom or lapel microphone. The interviewer prompts questions and the interviewee answers them on film. Simple. When it’s finished the footage is then sent to the editor. This footage contains a single shot of the interview subject and nothing more. Now, the editor has the daunting task of editing the ‘best of the best’ of that interview together, usually into a larger production. Sound easy? Not exactly. What happens when the interviewee starts to ramble, stumbles over words, and uses filler words such as “like”, “um”, “er”, “ah”, “basically”, and “y’know”? Well, the audience will end up seeing (and hearing) it because the editor doesn’t have anything else to work with other than that 1-camera shot from the interview. The editor can’t really ‘edit’ this single shot together very well as any edit will result in what’s called a ‘jump cut.’ A jump cut basically (whoops, used a filler word) looks like a skip. And a skip just won’t look right in most cases. I know everyone reading this has seen this situation in a video…a long winded rambling executive, a discombobulated customer testimonial, or a lost in thought ‘filler word’ user. I mean, come on, we all tense up under pressure, get lost in our own words, and use fillers to ‘fill’ in the gaps. Right? Yes. We know interviewees are not perfect. Heck, I stay on the other side of the camera for a reason. Well, two reasons really. 1) Because I don’t want to be on camera. 2) Because nobody wants me to be on camera.
So, how can you fix this? First, you could stick with the single camera and add something called ‘b-roll’ over each edit point. B-roll consists of footage or graphics that essentially cover the edits so the audience does not notice the interviewee’s dialogue is being edited. While I do highly recommend adding b-roll in most cases, it does cost more cash and takes more time. And, in the end, there is often not enough of it to get rid of all the aforementioned ‘issues.’
Ok, so now what? So far we have learned about the 1-camera interview and adding b-roll over the edits. But what if that’s not enough? What if the interview is still too long or drawn out? You don’t want to lose the audience. Do you? Nope. Looks like its time to increase your options by adding a 2nd camera.
For 4 years now, SolidLine Media has been conducting interviews with at least 2 cameras. This interview style results in a 2nd option for the editor when cutting the footage together, a safety option. Now, getting rid of those ‘issues’ quickly becomes a whole lot easier. When editing with 2 camera options, the editor has the main camera shot, or A-camera (just like in a 1-camera shoot discussed above) as well as what we call the B-camera. The B-camera is a 2nd shot, usually framed closer up on the interviewees face and from a slightly different angle.
An example of an A-Camera shot
An example of a typical B-Camera shot
Production Coordinator Ed Boe stands in for the lighting of a 2-camera set-up
The B-camera is synced to the A-camera with a BNC cable through a technology called Time Code. Time Code is a numeric coding system that links media sources together. The 2 cameras are also synced to an electronic Time Code Clapboard, or Slate. Now, we have 2 cameras and a slate all displaying the exact same time code, they are synced down to the frame. The slate generates the time code and is displayed and filmed by each camera during every take of the interview session for reference by the editor during editing. Once the slate is seen on both camera monitors the script supervisor notes the time code on a Shot Log. This shot log includes notes on whether the take was good or not along with other pertinent info and is provided to the editor for their reference during editing.
The electronic clapboard, or slate, in use before a take
An actual example of a SolidLine shot log from the field
As you can see, this method is more complex, but results in 2 perfectly synced shot options for the editor to successfully execute the most informative, entertaining, and clean interview edit possible. Add in some b-roll, graphics, and music and you are on your way to creating a truly lasting video production. To see an example of this method in action, check out this production for ASUG, which was comprised entirely of interviews.
You can contact Greg at email@example.com.
For more information about SolidLine Media, visit us online at www.solidlinemedia.com. Or call 312-939-8600.
Copyright 2009 SolidLine Media, a division of KV Media Group, Inc.
This high end corporate image video production was produced for APL sales teams across the globe to use during sales presentations and as a leave behind promotional piece. It is also featured on all APL websites. The video production highlights footage shot at 6 locations across the US and China – including an aerial shoot [...]
This promotional video production highlights Qvidian’s new Playbooks application, which enables sales teams the ability to choose the right playbook in order to have the best chances for winning the deal. The video production features live action scenes shot in a warehouse office space in Boston, MA combined with unique tracked motion graphics on brick [...]
Thursday, March 21st, 2013 | Comments Off
This fully animated production promotes Nutri-Vet’s Skin Care Supplements for dogs with a custom SolidLine developed character named Dr. Wellington. The spot is available to view online and at Pet Smart and other pet stores nationwide.