Conducting and Filming an Interview

One of the most common forms of video we see in our daily life are interviews. News broadcasts, sports coverage, coverage of celebrity events, and documentaries all include some standard interview formats. However, unlike our PSA/Commercials, an interview requires us to capture high quality audio while filming "out in the field". By the end of this unit you will be able to:
  • explain why we need external microphones and headphones
  • demonstrate some methods to improve sound quality
  • conduct, film, and edit a quality interview
  • define: establishing shot, A-Roll footage, B-Roll footage, Stand-Up, one shot interview, and two shot interview


Establishing shot: A shot used to introduce viewers to the general scene and the performers in it.

A-Roll footage: Footage of the actual interview. This includes people responding to interview questions and/or an interviewer asking questions.
B-Roll footage: Video footage, sometimes without a narration sound track. It is usually used by broadcasters to supplement the main elements of a news story.

Stand-up: (news term) A segment by reporters standing at the scene of news, sports, or entertainment events. This is where you hear reporters say things like:
  • "I'm standing here live at the scene of..."
  • "My name is Jane Jones and behind me you can see the effects of today's devastating fire."

One shot interview: Shot of a single person, either interviewer or guest. Usually a mid-shot or tighter.
Two shot interview: Shot of two people, usually the interviewer and the guest.

Tips to Improve Sound Quality:
  • Stay close to the subject and place the camera along with the microphone as close as possible to the subject. The further it is, the more background sound it picks up.
  • Minimize background noise-set up your shot so you can have you microphone aimed away from major noise sources.
  • Direct silently- do no give verbal instructions from the cameras position while shooting. All mics will be able to pick up sounds from the side as well as from the front.

Establing Shot:

Please ignore the fact that this video clip is an advertisement. The first 90 seconds give a good overview of "establishing shots" and shows some samples.

A-Roll and B-Roll Footage:


One Shot and Two Shot Interviews:

This is an example of a 1 shot interview because you can only see the person who is being interviewed. You don't need to watch the whole thing but do take the time to notice the accompanying B-Roll footage.

This would be an example of a 2 shot interview because you can see the person who is being interviewed and the interviewer. Notice that there is not any B-Roll footage. This makes it much less interesting to watch.

External Microphones:

Why do we use external microphones?

This video is made up of a bunch of very short segments. The ones we are interested in are titled:
  • What kind of sound quality can I expect from my camcorder?
  • How can I get the best sound performance from my camcorder's microphone?
  • What is an external microphone and why would I need one for my camcorder?
  • What do I need in order to use an external microphone for my camcorder?

You can use the "Next" button to skip to the four segments that most interest us.

Why do we use headphones when filming?

You always want to make sure you use headphones when you are filming so that you can hear what you are recording. Sometimes it may seem like you are picking up sound when you are not. Other times there might be a lot of background noise that you don't realize until you play it back. If you use headphones you prevent having to go back and record a second time because of bad audio.