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Tips for Being on Camera

So, It's Your First Time Being on Camera

In video, one of the first questions is “how do we tell the story”. In a narrative piece, that is typically done with actors delivering lines, but in the corporate arena that’s often done with a someone being on camera interviewed and prompted by a director.

Most people are familiar with a “talking head” on video, basically someone on-screen to deliver a statement, tell their story, or simply answer questions which we then use to compile the story in post. But often the people we ask to be in front of the lens are inexperienced with the process, and in some cases, it’s their first time. So, what can you do to prep for being on camera? Here are a few things to think about...

What to Expect

With most interviews, the setup will have some common themes. There will typically be artificial lighting, and now-a-days that’s usually a LED “softbox” light kit. Basically, you’ll be surrounded by multiple soft “squares of light” that the video team will use to achieve the look they’re going for. While they’re bright, there’s a softening filter that will make sure you’re not blinded. And you’ll also be happy to hear that, for the most part, the days of “hot lights” are over. LEDs run cool and consistent, so you won’t be talking in a sauna. There will typically be an interviewer, which could be from our team or sometimes from a separate client team (It’s ultimately the preference of the client). And while there are other elements in the room (like the other crew members, lights, microphones, monitors, etc.), in most interview scenarios your goal will be to pretend like those distractions don’t exist. Instead, focus on the interviewer, and when you answer try to answer directly to them as if you’re in your own separate conversation.

Let’s Get Started

Generally speaking most interview answers need only one universal quality: Answer as a complete thought (re-using the question if needed), not a one-word answer. For instance, if asked “What’s your favorite coffee place?”, a bad answer would be “Starbucks!”. A good answer would be “My favorite coffee place is Starbucks” and continue from there. The reason is simple, think about it from an editing perspective. As an editor, I can’t start a clip with “Starbucks!” because there’s no context to the response, I need the “My favorite coffee place is…” to inform the viewer to what we’re talking about. Another good tip is simple makeup application. Especially on more budget-minded projects there won't be a makeup artist on set. And while modern lighting is more forgiving than the harsher lighting typically used in video 10+ years ago, some basic makeup to cut down on oily-reflections is never a bad idea and can make a lighting designer’s job much easier on set. 

Final Word of Advice

Last word of advice, if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask! It’s always a better interview when everyone is comfortable with one another. It’s not our first rodeo, even if it is for you, so let us help you and together we’ll make it as painless as possible!  


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