How Many Cameras Are Actually Needed for a Good Video Interview?

Interview How many cameras does it take to do an interview with video?
How many cameras does it take to do an interview with video? | © Photo: freepik.es

Again and again people ask how many cameras are actually useful to shoot an interview with video. This article explains the way to the correct answer with a checklist.

As a sign of appreciation or for quality assurance, is it advisable to shoot top C-level shots (CEO, CFO, COO, etc.) for a leadership video as opposed to employees or the rest of the cadre for testimonials during a video production with more than one camera? If so, how many cameras does it take to do a good video interview?

Do two cameras for an interview with video make it easier to “clean up” a possibly bad performance of the boss in front of the camera afterwards in the image editing?

You need to know

  • The number of cameras can only be determined by the question of the desired effect of a video.
  • Just as crucial, if not more so, is the question of who is in front of the camera.
  • Too much technology can intimidate, even stifle, a person during a video statement.
  • Film technical tricks (re-cut, B-roll) are always at the expense of authenticity and naturalness.

How many cameras does an interview with video need?

How many cameras should ideally be used to shoot a video interview is a question that was probably first asked as early as 1886, immediately after the invention of the movie camera. To date, there is only one correct answer: it depends!

No direction is given to the fabulous Cary Grant. You just put him in front of the camera and leave it to the viewer to identify with him.
Alfred Hitchcock

The camera lens is the eye of the spectator. From this derive all the answers for the manufacture. Perceptual psychology, content and technology. For the first time, this sounds more complex than it actually is for a moving image interview.

Checklist “How many cameras?”: 7 questions

There are always seven basic questions to be answered first when deciding on an interview with video and on the question of how many cameras:

  1. What is the interview or statement supposed to accomplish?
  2. Does the person bring experience from comparable projects?
  3. Should this person look the viewer directly in the eye as in a personal conversation, or
  4. Is the respondent speaking to a third party?
  5. Is this third person visible or invisible to the viewer?
  6. As a viewer, should I feel the statement dynamic-moving or static-controlled?
  7. Does the interviewer’s agenda allow for a pre-shoot meeting and more than half an hour of shooting time?

The right answers to these questions always depend on the type of key messages to be conveyed. With the film agency, film consultant or production partner, the checklist in this article for a video statement can help address all the important points in advance of production.

2 solid reasons

In addition to soft factors for determining “how many cameras?”, there are also a number of tangible reasons that determine the number of recording units required for a video interview shoot:

1Ability and willingness

It’s not just about wanting to, it’s about being able to. The question of how many cameras an interview with video needs has significant implications for production costs. But also on the later image processing. In addition to the rental costs for the camera and sound equipment, there are always transport costs and insurance costs. At the same time, specialists are needed who have a thorough knowledge of today’s high-tech equipment for image acquisition, both from a technical and a design point of view.

Two cameramen logically cost more for a testimonial than just one video camera and just one operator. The dubbing and editing of two image sources is more complex.

Therefore, where the available production budget is restrictive, there is no need to discuss how many cameras are required.

2Form follows function

A corporate film is 99% about conveying content and emotions. The key message is usually conveyed exclusively by a person speaking in front of the camera, supplemented at most by graphic elements or interludes.

The cinematic form must therefore be subordinate to the content. The focus is on credibility and comprehensibility, not staging.

Therefore, the following applies: A second camera only makes sense if it does not dilute these two factors, but rather strengthens them from the recipient’s point of view.

Situational turning

Situational shooting is the ability of the cameraman to shoot with a camera from different angles during an ongoing interview. Situational shooting is an art that very few cinematographers have mastered. How many cameras are used also depends on this capability.

Example: The CEO is interviewed by a TV editor. A cameraman is present who pans back and forth between the editor and the CEO depending on the question and answer. The cameraman has to decide where exactly the camera is looking and when. This is because the actions and reactions of interviewer and interviewee only become apparent in the concrete situation.

The cameraman must therefore in this case

  1. check the image with the eye and
  2. determine the image section,
  3. anticipate the reactions of the two interlocutors simultaneously and as far as possible with the ear, and
  4. in parallel, make sure in your head that a camera pan does not look mechanical and unnatural, and that the right person with the right reaction or action is always seen.

Therefore:

If the intention is to have two people, questioner and answerer, in the picture, shooting from two camera angles at the same time is the lesser risk. They are not much more expensive for the budget than the cinematographer exceptional talent, which can simultaneously record two amateur actors.

Learnings from the field for the question “How many cameras?”

When preparing the briefing and determining the budget, in addition to the 7 essential questions and the hard facts listed above, it is also advisable to think about the other points that may be just as critical to success.

The following practical tips can serve as a guide for these more detailed questions about testimonials and for communication and marketing with moving images:

ATechnology is a means to an end

Technology is only a means to an end in an interview with video. Not an end in itself. Also on the question of how many cameras are needed on the set. Content is not made more attractive by the use of multiple camera angles.

How it is shot is less important than the content. The targeted use of B-roll footage can usually compensate effortlessly for a multi-camera shoot.

BTechnology cannot work magic

The claim that the use of two or more shooting units at the same time allows the concealment of a poor performance is nonsensical: a person shot from two angles is therefore no less often in the picture.

If the person is not in the picture during the interview with video, this because intercuts (desk, hands) and so-called B-roll recordings are to be worked with, these recordings can also be generated with a camera. Shortening and sound cuts are possible with B-Roll.

CTechnology can be scary

Those who struggle in front of a camera perform better when he / she is not crushed by technology (recording equipment, tripods, dolly, spotlight). Less is more with such a starting point and determining “how many cameras”.

What you should also keep in mind when asking “how many cameras?”

What types of interviews with video there are and what to consider besides the question “how many cameras” when moving image is realized without a professional production partner, explains the Filmpuls article “How video testimonial become even better with 6 simple rules.”

DQuestioner and respondent

Shooting from two or more perspectives at the same time allows the viewer to see different angles of the person in front of the lens. Or (with two people in the picture) the smooth change from the questioner to the interviewee.

Angle of view and rhythm must do justice to the person in front of the camera and should always reinforce the content being communicated. This has an impact on the staffing of the team and the time required for filming (longer presence of the CEO on location) and therefore also on the budget.

Etalent you have. Or not.

Many CEOs are absolutely camera-ready through experience and/or training. If this is not the case, very special requirements arise from the director’s point of view.

With two or more shooting angles, however, the demands on the director and editor increase significantly. This, too, must be taken into account when considering how many cameras will ultimately add value to Interview with Video.

FAvoid teleprompter

Unlike in the past, when interviews were videotaped on real film and any slip of the tongue had real cost implications, digital technology makes it easier to produce moving image testimonials. As punishment for this, the devil invented the teleprompter.

A teleprompter is a semi-transparent mirror that can be placed directly in front of the camera lens. It plays from laptop invisible to the viewer the text to be spoken. Sounds good and has been a standard for the professionals in the TV studio for years.

TV presenters have learned this reading from a teleprompter and trained for weeks. That’s why on TV it looks like they can recite the lyrics effortlessly and with a lot of elegance.

But if an inexperienced person tries to use a teleprompter, it will most likely fall apart. Instead of looking into the camera and thus at the viewer, the gaze flickers from right to left and from top to bottom along the lines of text. All authenticity is lost. This is not an optimal condition for good commissioned films. The teleprompter turns untrained and inexperienced people into talking cardboard figures in front of the camera. Therefore: Hands off.

Further information to the question “How many cameras?”

You can also approach such projects from the humorous side and without a checklist. However, this again requires significantly more experience and talent. Dealing with comedy is one of the most difficult disciplines in filmmaking.

Conclusion

In an ideal cooperation between film agency and client, the concrete answers from the previous questions are combined with soft and hard facts and learnings from practice to form argumentatively comprehensible foundations for the joint content-related, editorial and technical planning.

At the same time, the procedure outlined here in the form of a checklist prevents possible misunderstandings and the suboptimal allocation of resources at an early stage. This results in more than the sum of the individual parts for all parties involved. The interview with video can fulfill its purpose purposefully.

Also worth reading on the subject of cameras and interviewing with video: Checklist for casting extras and actors for film and television and Camera test of Sony’s PXW-Z90: the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

This article was automatically translated into English using AI. If you would like to help us improve the quality, we would be happy to hear from you.

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