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Framing head-on studio shots

As solo reporters and videographers, many of us are often required to shoot interview subjects head-on, rather than the traditional interview format where the subject addresses a reporter sitting to the side of the camera.

In pre-taped packages, the traditional looking interview usually involves the subject occupying approximately a third of the screen and looking off to the side.

But the head-on shot can be used for various reasons, for example if the interviewee in your package is in a remote location, or if you are shooting a tape-sync which will be used as an as-live remote interview.

However, I have seen some extraordinarily badly framed head-on shots, so I thought I'd write a little blurb explaining how I try to shoot them. As usual this is not a definitive how-to, as I'm sure you can tell. Rather it is just my favored method:

1) Make sure you give the subject plenty of headroom. There isn't very much room for error in this part. For this kind of shot you do not want to chop of any of the subject's head, but you also don't want to give them too much head room.

2) Remember to leave enough room at the bottom of the screen for the lower-3rd caption. Bare in mind the size of the lower 3rd used by the outlet you are shooting for.

3) Make sure you pay attention to your background. Don't situate your subject in front of anything too distracting, or an object that will appear to be protruding from the person's body.
Sometimes according to the style of the outlet you are shooting for, you may need to use a blank background.

In this case, the client favored a plain background rather than a room. I used a sheet which I then lit from one side using a Lowell Pro light. This gave the background a nice texture and prevented the subject casting a drop shadow.

4) Make sure to center the interviewee correctly. This is particularly important if the station you are shooting for uses a split screen showing the anchor and interviewee.

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