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Creating and editing a setpiece interview

When you're a solo videographer there are often occasions when you'll want to create the impression of a two camera interview but with only one camera.

Here is a short explainer on how you can achieve this fairly easily. There are certain things you'll need to do during both the shooting and editing phases in order to create a professional result.

When shooting a "two-camera" interview with just one camera, you need to be mindful of the following things:

1) Shoot the interview subject without moving the camera too much during questions. You may want to cut to the interviewee to cover edits to the questions. 

2) That being said, you can put in some smooth pushes and pulls during questions and answers, but make sure you practice before rolling. You don't want to mess it up and miss an important answer.

3) When the interview is finished, get a wide shot of the interview scene with the interviewer talking and interviewee listening. This will be useful for editing especially if you don't have a reverse with a re-ask of a question you want to include (see point 5).

4) When the interview is finished, make sure you get a reverse shot. Do not cross the axis, ie., if the subject is looking camera left, the interviewer must be looking camera right.

5) If you are cutting an extended interview you will need re-asks. The interviewer should re-ask as many questions as possible during the reverse.

6) You should get a selection of listening shots from the interviewer - ideally some tight on the interviewer and some wide with the shoulder of the interviewee in frame. 

7) When you are tight on the interviewer during the reverse, make sure it's framed so the shot matches the framing of the interviewee. For example, it will look strange if you constantly cut from a very wide shot of an interviewer to a very tight shot of an interviewee or vice versa.

8) Remember to bare in mind what aspect ratio your final project will be in when you're shooting, and frame accordingly.

9) Ensure that when you move the camera to get the reverse that you check the white balance. Make sure the lighting and white balance for answers and questions matches.

10) If possible, use wireless microphones. Less cables will make it easier to move your camera to get the reverse. It will also make the scene look much tidier when you get your wideshot.

11) Try to match the audio levels for both interviewer and interviewee. This will save time in the editing process. It's also useful if the audio tone - including room tone - and quality is the same. It will be much more apparent that you are editing together two recordings if the ambient sound in the room is different.

12) You may need to adjust the background for your reverse shot, especially if you're in a small space. You made the background for the interviewee look good, so you need to make sure the background for the interviewer looks good too. 

Now to the editing process. Take a look at this interview I edited in Haiti: Malcolm Brown was the videographer.

In this video you will see I have deployed several techniques. 

1) Use listening shots of the interviewer, but not too many. Try to use these cutaways to break-up long answers or to cover edits. Don't over use them otherwise they become distracting.

2) You don't necessarily have to cut to the interviewer when a question is asked, assuming you had both the interviewer and interviewee wearing mics. If the question is very short, for example, you don't have to. Use your judgement. If it's a particularly important or long question, you will probably want to use that re-ask.

3) Use L-cuts (split edits). You'll see I use these on several occasions to keep the flow of the edit going. Here's a good definition: LINK

"Sometimes called an L-cut, a split edit is a transition from one shot to another, where the picture transition does not coincide with the audio transition. This is often done to enhance the aesthetics or flow of the video. For example, a conversation between two people can feel like a tennis match if you always cut the audio and video at the same time. A split edit allows the audience to see the reaction of the person doing the listening, or the aftermath of speaking, rather than simply the act of speaking."

4) It's important to be very organized in laying out your timeline or sequence when you've shot an interview and reverses with just one camera. Place your raw interview into your timeline and then grab your questions and place them in chronological order, either at the end of the timeline or in a new sequence. If your re-asks were not in order, you do not want to make the mistake of cutting a question and answer together that do not go together.

5) If you're on a wideshot where the person talking is facing away from the camera, make sure the audio matches the movement of the mouth convincingly. Pick wideshots where mouth movements, head movements and hand gestures coincide with what is being said.

6) Don't try to be too clever. You'll save yourself time and the possibility of making a mistake the less edits you include.

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