Video maybe a visual medium but there are certain types of productions where what the viewer hears–not what the viewer sees–drives the video forward. Examples includes the music video, the narrated documentary and the interview.
Of these, the video interview may be the simplest to produce. Simple is a relative term. Turning out a crisp, articulate interview can be a challenging task even for the best videographers. Those who record a lot of interviews have developed a number of audio techniques and principles they rely on interview after interview.
Here are some techniques for taping and editing video interviews.
Choose the noise free location
The mic catches more than we hear. We often don’t realize the hum of the AC and server can be disturbing. Also avoid places that have the noise of the Refrigerators, phones, printers, traffic. Most often clients are forthcoming to stops noisy activities, if requested.
Choose a location with good acoustics
Recording in a highly reverberant space will douse your audio with hollow-sounding ambience and echoes. This compromises the intelligibility and clarity of your interview, and makes the voice seem distant and indistinct. Rooms with carpet and soft furnishings usually provide very good acoustics. The average living room makes a great place to conduct interviews.
Choice of Camera
Use a camera with XLR inputs. Professional video cameras have these. DSLRs and handycams do not have this option and may be a compromise for audio
Camera mics are not usually the best option as they catch ambient sound. Try to use unidirectional mics. Use the best one possible (it doesn’t have to be the most expensive one)
Mic off the camera please
If you do choose the camera mic or any other mic, do take the mic of the camera. Your camcorder’s mike is attached to a box full of whirring motors and buzzing circuits, one that’s usually located too far from the action to pick up crisp sound.
Mic choice and position
Lavaliere mics are the best option. Pin it to your victim’s chest, and you’re all but guaranteed crisp audio. Don’t let the lav rotate to point sideways instead of directly up. If you have to put the interview on hold briefly to correct mike position, do so. The consistency of your audio is at stake.
Next best is a vocal mike on a stand, positioned just outside the frame. If you don’t have a mike stand, your interviewer can hold the mike 18 inches or so from the interviewee’s mouth. Try to maintain the mic distance the same through the interview. The mike held by interviewer or interviewee shouldn’t wave around like a baton. Nor should it drop from three inches below the mouth to 18 inches as someone’s arm tires.
Watch levels closely Every bit as important as voice tone is voice volume (level). A long, slow change in level will be hard to catch during the actual interview, but will be obvious if you splice the beginning and end of an answer together during editing. You may need to encourage your interviewee to speak a little more loudly if their energy level tails off.
AGC (Auto Gain Control) not a good idea for interviews
Camcorder’s auto gain control (AGC) compensate for level changes by turning the voice up or down, but you’ll hear a change in background noise as a result. This fact, coupled with the rising whoosh of background noise during pauses, makes AGC a poor choice for interviews. If you can set audio levels manually on your camcorder, do so. Manual record levels are important enough to justify recording to a high-quality VCR with this feature–simply plug your microphone and camcorder’s video output into the VCR.
Pauses during interviews are important
Some interviewers fire off the next question the instant the interviewee is done answering the previous one. This is bad. Likewise, an eager interviewee may make editing more difficult by speaking hot on the heels of the interviewer. Often interviewers overlap their next question before the interviewee finishes. That could be an editor’s nightmare.
Remember a great visual without legible audio, in an interview, is useless to your audience.
With inputs from www.videomaker.com