How To Film Interviews. . . and some Behind The Scenes Footage | Scott Baker | Skillshare

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How To Film Interviews. . . and some Behind The Scenes Footage

teacher avatar Scott Baker, Filmmaker

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      3 Types of Microphones


    • 3.

      3 Point Lighting Set Up


    • 4.

      One Person Interviews


    • 5.

      Two Person Interviews


    • 6.

      Choosing the Right Location


    • 7.

      Lighting With Windows


    • 8.

      Setting the Recording Levels


    • 9.

      Getting Room Tone


    • 10.

      Audio Hazards to be Aware Of


    • 11.

      12 BTS


    • 12.



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About This Class

Join filmmaker Scott Baker in this quick course to learn to set up and film professional looking and sounding Interviews for your Documentaries, Corporate Videos, Testimonials, Vlogs, Tutorials, and YouTube Channels. 


  • Camera Set Ups — for one and two-person interviews
  • Audio Set Ups  — types of microphones and placement, audio hazards
  • Lighting Techniques  3 Point set up, using windows 
  • Location — choose a location that works aesthetically and technically


Whether you're an aspiring Documentary Filmmaker, Vlogger, Content Creator or Beginner Videographer, this class is for all. It doesn't matter if you're using a high end camera or your phone, these techniques always apply, and it can be done with minimal lights as well as a proper lighting kit.

To make sure you thoroughly understand the material there are plenty of diagrams, tutorials, and real life examples. All designed so you finish this class feeling confident, and excited to use the knowledge and skills you've learned to take your filmmaking to the next level

** Having at least one quality microphone (anything but the camera's built-in mic) will make a noticeable difference. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Scott Baker



After graduating from film school in 2008 I dove straight into the Toronto film industry Directing and Producing a variety of projects such as music videos and short films that have screened at festivals such as Tribeca and Toronto International Shorts. In between projects I also work on big budget film and television such as Suicide Squad and The Boys.

When not on set I'm on the road working with bands, shooting documentaries, and creating other independent projects. Even while traveling for vacation I can't seem to put my camera down, because when you're passionate about something it becomes second nature.




Instagram: https://www.instag... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hello everyone. My name is Scott Baker and I began in the film industry in 2009, working on major films and TV shows, while also directing my own short films, documentaries, and music videos. If you've taken any of my other classes than welcome back. If this is your first time, then it's great to have you. We'll start with a quick review of the three-point lighting setup, as well as the three types of microphones we'll be using. Then we'll dive into the technical aspects such as camera and microphone setups for one N2 person interviews. We will also discuss non-technical aspects like choosing a location and making sure that it has the right look. And in case you ever find yourself without a lighting kit, There's even a lesson on how to lay your interviews using windows and the natural light coming through. And as a bonus, I've also added a quick lesson on filming behind the scenes footage. So without any further talking, let's get started. 2. 3 Types of Microphones: There are three microphones you'll be using. Shotgun microphone, field recorder, and a lavalier. Now I do recommend starting with the shotgun microphone because of its quality and its versatility. And later on, adding a field recorder and a lavalier to your kit. A shotgun microphone is the typical microphone people think of on a movie set. And that's because it's the most common, because it gives the most natural sound to our audio recordings. It works best when the source is placed directly in front of it. Just as I am now with the camera. However, if I were to step to the side, you'll notice the quality deteriorates. And if I go behind the camera, it deteriorates even more. For the best recording, we want to place the mic roughly two feet in front of the subject and just high enough so that it is out of frame. We also want to point it at their chin. Now, for this part, let's pretend that this is not a music stand and instead a podium. The field recorder is a great microphone to use. If you can't get your shotgun microphone close enough to the subject, or if you don't want to see the lavalier mike in the shot, they're really fast and really easy to setup. And they're fantastic for recording multiple people at once. They're small and can usually be easily hidden. And when it's possible, I like to use the field recorder as a secondary recording to my shotgun mic. Now, there are one flaw is that once you place them and hit record, you can't make any adjustments until the shot is finished. So for example, if you're recording someone who's giving a demonstration, and again, they decide to get up and walk away from a microphone. You will notice that most often the volume will get quieter and there will be more background noise that you can hear. Lavalier mic, also known as a lapel microphone. These are the tiny microphones we often see clipped to people shirts. And they are fantastic for recording clean audio. Especially in very noisy environments where a shotgun microphone can't get close enough. They're also fantastic if your subject is moving around giving a speech or doing a demonstration. And that's because no matter where your subject goes, the lapel mic remains the same distance or the same position to the speaker's mouth, therefore, maintaining the same quality, no matter what, it is best to attach a lavalier just below the neck line as long as it's okay to be seen in the shot. If it's not okay to be in the shot, you'll have to get creative and find somewhere to hide it. Sometimes people tuck it into the color of a shirt. In theater, it can even go in the actor or actress his hair. And other times, people choose to put it inside of the shirt. However, if it comes loose or rubs against the clothing, that will end up ruling the audio. Using labs can be more time-consuming and can be difficult if the person wearing the lab is unfamiliar with them and not comfortable wearing them. So be sure to take that in consideration. 3. 3 Point Lighting Set Up: First we'll start with the key light, which is the main source that lights are subject. And the fill light is used to balance the lighting from the key light by softening or eliminating any shadows on the subject, followed by the back-light, which helps to separate the subject from the background into achieve this setup. Let's look at this diagram. The key light is placed in front of the subject and off to the side at about roughly 45 degrees, shines directly on the subject. If filming outside with natural light than the sun will be our key light. The fill light will mirror the key light and also shine on the subject. But it's not as bright. And if using just natural light, then using a reflector to bounce the light works as a fill light. And the back light is placed behind the subject, pointing at their back to create a rim of light around them. And this helps separate them from the background. To go one step further, we can make it a four-point setup by adding a fourth light to illuminate the background, which adds more depth to the shot. The three-point setup is ideal for interviews, but isn't a mandatory rule, especially when filming a narrative film or a music video. When filming interviews. It's always a good idea to keep this technique in mind, but feel free to get creative and make adjustments to find the look that you want. 4. One Person Interviews: First, it depends on whether the interview is just the person being interviewed that is on camera, or if the interviewer is on camera as well. If it's just the one-person, it can be a simple one camera setup. For the one-person interview, you'll want to use the rule of thirds, remembering to give them proper nose room and headroom. And usually we want to compose the shot using a medium wide, medium or medium close-up. If we go too wide, the audience will feel separated from the subject or uncomfortably close. If we're using a close-up. That's not to say those shots can't be used as long as it creates the effect that you're going for. For a single person interview, attaching a shotgun mic to the camera, or using a lavalier mic are the best options. If it's possible to have a second camera for interviews, it will make the process much easier, especially when editing. Because now we can easily cut out pieces of the interview or cover up any mistakes smoothly without needing to add lots of cutaways is also more visually interesting for the audience. Instead of watching one continuous shot and having to use harsh jump cuts like we see in so many tutorials or YouTube videos. If you are filming with one camera, makes sure to have ideas in mind for cutaway shots for when you're editing. This will allow you to better plan out the filming and the flow of the interview, as well as making the editing process much, much easier. 5. Two Person Interviews: If we're showing both the interviewer and the interviewee with one camera than a wide shot such as this. Or a medium wide is what works best. As for their positions, we want to have them slightly angled between the camera and each other. If we have two cameras, then we can have them sit across from each other. Just like a regular conversation using reverse shots. For this setup, we can choose to have clean shot where each person is the only one in the frame. Or we can set it up as an over the shoulder shot. The slang version of this is called a dirty shot. And it's not necessary that the shots mirror each other. For example, we can mix the shots by having the interviewer filmed in a medium wide to give the audience some distance. And a medium shot for the interviewee to make the audience feel closer. Especially if they're telling a story that's interesting or emotional. And if you have three cameras, then it's best to set up the third is a wide shot to act as your master will need to have two level ears, one for each person. Using a shotgun mic. It will need to be placed in equal distance from both subjects, either on the camera or on a boom. Or if possible, we can hide a field recorder between the two. Even if you're using a lavalier or a shotgun mike, having a field recorder also recording as a backup is a safe practice in case anything goes wrong with the labs or the shotgun mike. 6. Choosing the Right Location: When I'm filming interviews, my first goal is to film in a space that I have control over, especially when it comes to lighting and audio. We want to find a quiet setting where we can ensure there's no overbearing background noise or random people entering the shot. Essentially, we're looking to eliminate anything that might distract the person being interviewed, as well as anything that might distract the audience. The other important aspect of location is the aesthetic. I always try to find something that complements either the person being interviewed or the topic that is being discussed. In this example, I'm interviewing a wrestler. So we shot in a fitness gym. This interview is between two guitarists. So we shot at the Gibson warehouse. Even if the background isn't filled with people or moving distractions. And overcrowded background is something else to be mindful of. A cluttered background can also be distracting as it will draw the viewer's attention to the many different objects. In these two examples, a couple of guitars or a few weights was more than enough. And having the background slightly soft can also help keep the focus on the subject. If we're filming somewhere with a busy background, like a city street where we have no control over the background. Then pulling it out of focus by using a shallow depth of field is a great way to reduce that distraction. If we're filming on the go and don't have a lighting kit at our disposal than we also want to find a location with good lighting. Remember what we learned earlier. We want to take advantage of any windows if we're filming indoors during the day, as well as any existing lights along with our reflectors, bounce boards, and flags. It's also worth noting that it's best to avoid fluorescent lights because they can cause a flicker on camera. If you have one of these small pocket lights we discussed earlier, it could be what saves you. So again, I highly recommend getting one of those. If you do have a lighting kit, then this is a perfect opportunity to put the three-point lighting setup into practice. Again, if we choose a quiet location where we can control or block out any background noise, then everything will be much easier, especially in editing. When I have a really quiet location, then I prefer to use a shotgun microphone because it captures the dialogue naturally and closer to the way we hear everyday conversation. But if there is background noise that we can't control than using lavalier mics are the best option. 7. Lighting With Windows: At times, especially when filming on the go, we won't have extensive lighting kits and that's okay because we have the sun and that is the strongest light source. So strong that even when filming indoors, it can still be a major source of light for us. That's when Windows become our best friend. For this music video I directed, we did not use a single light. The entire shoot was done solely by using the sunlight coming in through the windows. I always start with a clean slate by surveying the room and turning off all the lights. This way, we can see what the room looks like naturally, with just the light coming in through the windows, which will most likely be the sunlight. Unless of course you're filming at night. In which case, it will most likely be street lights or lights from other buildings. Maybe even a bit of moonlight. Decide where to place your subject or where the action should take place. And remember from the previous lesson, never film from the exact same direction that the light is coming from. If you do, this will result in a flat look. For interviews. I find placing the subject between a 1045 degree angle to the window provides enough light to illuminate the person while still creating some soft shadows. But test it out and see what works best for you and your project. At the end of the day, there's still representing their country and they're representing the people that came before them in these indoor situations. Another reason we don't want to set up the camera directly between the window and the subject is because our camera setup will most likely cast its own shadow into the shot. This is a perfect example of when we want to film at an angle to the light so we can capture some shadows and add depth to our shot. Step three is to shape the light. And what I mean by that is to adjust the curtains or blinds to let in more light or to block it out. If the windows have sheers, we can use those as well as a diffuser to soften the light. Or we can use an actual diffuser from our 51 reflector kit. And remember, we can use reflectors to bounce the light and act as fill lights or back lights. Don't forget about the background. To give our shots more depth, we still have to make sure parts of the background can be seen. And this is where practical lights can be very useful. Something as simple as turning on a desk lamp or a floor lamp to illuminate the walls or furniture can do the trick perfectly. Or perhaps having lights from another room spill in through a doorway. If that's not working or not possible, it's always good to have one or two of these small pocket lights. They're extremely powerful, T-Mobile and can switch between daylight and tungsten. Some of them even have programs settings to mimic things such as sirens, lightening, or television Flickr. Two things to be very aware of in these situations. First, you will be limited to the sun's schedule. So be prepared and have your shortlist ready so you can get all the needed footage before the light disappears or changes to drastically. Second, if it's a cloudy day, that can cause the lighting to change a lot, which will cause continuity problems. To be prepared for this, it's best to have your shutter speed, aperture, and ISO set so you have some room to adjust, either up or down. For instance, if it gets darker and the shutter speed is at 50 frames per second, you can lower it anymore in order to get more light, at least not without breaking the 180 degrees shutter rule and giving the footage and unnatural and potentially blurry look. Or if we set the aperture to 2.8 and it gets darker, we can't open our aperture any further to let in more light. Having ND filters, as we've learned, can help us maintain shutter speed and aperture should it get brighter. So make sure that part of your kit as well. When it comes to lighting, these are not rules, just guidelines. So feel free to make adjustments and experiment until you find what you like, especially when it comes to films, music videos, or weddings, then I really encourage you to get creative, have fun, and find the lighting that fits your project and makes it stand out. 8. Setting the Recording Levels: Once we've chosen our microphone and it's set up properly, we need to make sure that our audio levels are set correctly. So let's open the menu settings on our camera and find recording level. We can see here these two bars indicate our audio levels. Green is good. And when you see red, it means that it's peaking. But don't be too worried if it peaks a little bit every now and then, dipping into the red is normal. However, if our audio levels are stuck in the red or hitting the very top or end of the meter, then our audio will either be distorted, clipped, or both. If this is happening, then we need to reduce the recording level. Our first instinct maybe to lower levels so that it's always in green. Doing this will definitely eliminate distortion and clipping. However, if the levels are too low, we do risk the dialogue being too low. Unfortunately, raising the volume afterward and post-production is not a simple fix if the dialogue is too quiet. If we try this, we'll notice that the surrounding noise of the location, known as room tone, becomes louder in equal proportion to the dialogue. And this creates a distracting hmm. So even though we've fixed the volume problem, we've created a new problem. And now we have to add filters and audio effects to try and fix it, which can be very frustrating and time consuming. And depending on how bad the recording is, it still may not sound natural. So the ideal recording level to capture clean audio is mid to high green. And again, don't be worried about the occasional dip into red. 9. Getting Room Tone: In this lesson, we'll look at three things regarding room tone. What is it? Why are we record it? And how to record it? First, room tone is an audio recording of the natural sounds of the space that you're filming in. It can be the room in a house, a city street and events space, a gym, or an open field. We do this because every room, space or environment has its own unique sound. Take a listen. The reason we get room tone is because you'll find that when you get to the editing stage, these audio recordings give our film a more natural and full sound. They also fill in any little gaps and audio when cutting together dialogue scenes. In turn, helping us mask edits and transitions. To get good room tone. The standard is to record for one minute, and it's really easy. All you have to do is call quiet for room tone, hit record, and have everyone stays silent for a minute. Just like this. But I think that's a long enough not going to do the full minute. 10. Audio Hazards to be Aware Of: In this lesson, we're going to look at some common audio hazards. Because if we don't catch them while we're filming, they can cause us a big headaches when we get to post-production. If it's ruined the dialogue, we may have to do ADR, reshoot or worst-case scenario. The footage may not be usable. For example, weddings and live events where there is no opportunity for a redo. So to make sure that this doesn't happen, Let's take a look at some of these issues and how to deal with them. The first thing we can do to help reduce the wind noise is at a blimp or a wind sock, or a combination of the two. We can also turn on the wind noise reduction option in our camera. Set up our camera and microphone where it's shielded from the wind. Places such as behind a wall or building or any large object that can block the wind from hitting the microphone. Lastly, if we have no other option, we can always share the microphone and the camera with our body. This is also more easily done if our subject is wearing a lavalier mic. And then there are just some places where nothing can be done except replace the sound in post-production. Shouldn't DSLR, it shouldn't be an issue. If our footage has a static crackling sound, That's what we call interference. This can be caused by other nearby electronics such as cell phones, laptops, or any device that gives and receives signals. To solve this problem, simply put them in airplane mode or turn them off. Be aware of things that are powered, they give off a hum or a buzz, especially when shooting indoors. Always check for appliances such as a refrigerator, air conditioner, fans. These sounds are so common to us that to our ears, they can easily go unnoticed, but our camera doesn't miss them. And when we get to the editing room, they can be very noticeable and very distracting. Those are just some examples of common audio hazards. However, it can be a tricky thing because there are so many different noises that can pop up, which is why the term Quiet onset is probably the most repeated phrase on any film set. My best piece of advice, every time your surroundings change, take a minute, have everybody be quiet and listen closely. This way, you can identify any noises that may be a problem. 11. 12 BTS: Filming behind the scenes or BTS footage for production is something I highly recommend, especially to new filmmakers. Because the amount of knowledge you can gain in a short period of time is amazing. When I was younger, I loved watching behind the scenes footage of movies. And it was actually Lord of the Rings that sparked my interest in film making. Everyone knows what the final shot looks like. But having a demonstration of how it's done right in front of your eyes is like getting a free education and filmmaking. The best part is you don't have to worry about the cameras setups or lighting or anything like that because the crew has already done it all. You just have to make sure you stay out of the cast and cruise way so they can do their job. Anytime I've filmed behind the scenes, there's usually specific scenes or shots or stance that they've wanted me to capture. If you're not told anything specific to film beforehand, then it's best to arrive early and inquire on smaller productions. You may be able to speak directly with the director or producer. But on larger productions, It's best to speak with the first AD. Allow them to relate any information between the director and new. For behind the scenes, it's best to film handheld or with a mono pod. With this setup, we are mobile and ready for anything unexpected. It's much like filming concerts or weddings. As for what lens to use, I suggest a zoom lens because it provides more flexibility and allows us to make the adjustments quickly without losing time, switching lenses or running all over the set. For example, if we're using a wide prime lens, we don't want to have to run across the set to get a close-up of an actor and director having a discussion. So using a zoom lens that allows us to film from a distance while still getting a variety of different shots is what's best. As a behind the scenes videographer. We want to stay out of everyone's way. So whatever allows us to stay on the sidelines while still getting the necessary footage is what's best. For audio. The only option here is to have a shotgun microphone attached to the camera. For any photographers out there. This setting is extremely important when shooting behind the scenes. And that's because you don't want to be making any sort of noise while the action is going on and the shutter noise from our camera can be very distracting. So to avoid that, simply pop into the menu here. And we're looking for a setting called silent shooting. We can see right here, if we select that, a simple option between on and off, if we click on, we can now snap photos as much as we want anytime we want without the worry of hearing the shutter go. Now, this option is only available for mirrorless cameras if you're using a DSLR with the mirror, than the mechanics of the camera, make it impossible to snap a photo without having that noise. If that's the case, you'll have to get a special camera case that dead-ends the sound of that shutter. When filming scenes that are in progress, there's no point in filming the scene itself. This is the time for wide shots because your footage is supposed to show how things are being done, not what's happening in the film. We want to show the audience, all the crew and cameras, and all the different equipment and interesting details that go into creating the scene. If you are able to film the scene and the camera in the same shot. Producers and directors love this kind of forage because it allows them to transition from the actual scene in the movie to the behind the scenes footage. Footage of actors, DPs, and directors all working together. Blocking scenes, having discussions is all great footage as well, because it shows the creative minds at work. The same goes for seeing big camera or lighting setups that are being constructed. If there's cool special effects or makeup being applied, that is another must film because it shows the transformation from actor to character. Essentially, anything that shows how the scenes are created is worth filming. And always keep an eye out for people. Having some fun. Film sets can be some of the most stressful work environments, but they also tend to be the most fun and craziest. Film crews are like a big, weird family. And producers love to see this kind of camaraderie in the footage. 12. Conclusion: That's it for this class. I hope you've enjoyed it and we'll take what you've learned here about filming interviews and behind the scenes footage. And use it to further your knowledge and skills as a filmmaker. And be sure to share any interviews that you've shot, or perhaps a short compilation of some behind the scenes footage here on Skillshare as well. It's great if you could leave a review, whether it's good or bad, as that feedback helps me create better classes in the future. So I thank you very much for joining me in this class, and I wish you all the best with your filmmaking.