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Creation of Audio-Video

The first step is to plan and shoot the audio-video recordings. This requires articulation of goals and practical plans so as to ensure proper audio-video quality, cultural content, and linguistic quality. One also needs to assemble a team on the ground who have the requisite combination of technical, linguistic, cultural and pedagogical expertise to produce the needed quality of picture, sound and content.

Design and Execution of Videos

- Images and Composition

The key to good cinematography lies in composition. Documentary filmmaking presents a broad ranges of situations in which one has varying degrees of control over composition – exactly how much is determined by one’s approach and aesthetic priorities. In interviews and reenactments, the cinematographer often has time to assess the location and make adjustments off camera, whereas in observational filming, where reality unfolds before the camera, good cinematography requires one to respond quickly, appropriately, and creatively to changing composition. In both instances, there are several variables that one can manipulate to achieve the best results. These are:

  Framing (spatial composition)
  Exposure (brightness/darkness)
  Color Balance

Insert: Bruce Lee Quote about Jeet Kune Do “You must learn the methods to break them.”


One of the first conventions of spatial composition is the Rule of Thirds. Imagine the frame divided into a 3×3 grid:

One’s inclination might be to frame the “center of interest” in Box E, but to many this composition appears static. Thus, cinematographers often try to position the center of interest slightly off-center, either along the horizontal and vertical lines, or ideally where they intersect (points 1-4).

Headroom (the space between the top of someone’s head and the top of the frame) is a second way cinematographers control composition. Too much headroom can appear awkward and amateurish. How much is too much depends on the type of shot. In a close-up, the subject’s eyes are usually positioned 1/3 of the way down the frame, slightly off-center (point 1 or 2 on the diagram above), which leaves little to no headroom. However, in a longer shot, emphasizing the background over the subject, it is acceptable to have more headroom.

Using this method, the are at the intersection of the lines (1,2,3,4)

Headroom Noesroom Movement (Camera, Internal) Center of Interest (Converging Lines) Diagonals Level Image Steady

Helpful Tips For Good Images:

  • When you are recording, your attention should be focused on either the LCD screen or the viewfinder. Be aware of what is happening “outside” of the image without being distracted by it. If there is something happening “outside” the image that is important enough to command your full attention, then you should probably reorient the camera to record it.
  • Hold the image for at least 3 seconds to avoid unnecessary camera movement. If you change the image, you should know why. Some good reasons to move the camera (or zoom) are:
  • If the person you are filming is moving
  • To reorient the camera to capture something important
  • To zoom in on a detail.
  • Always be focused on keeping the camera steady. If you are using a tripod this will not be a problem – but if you are holding the camera, even the slightest movement will unsettle the image. In situations where you are standing, brace the camera against your body. If you are sitting, it is best to rest the camera on your knee.

- Audio Recording

When recording video it is crucial to capture audio in the clearest way possible. Often the built-in microphones on camcorders is not sufficient to capture high-quality audio from the scene. The use of an external microphone is highly recommended for all high-quality video recording. There are a number of ways to capture audio using non-built-in devices, these include:

  1. An external microphone connected directly to the video camera. This can take the form of a boom microphone or a 'shotgun' microphone attached to the hotshoe mount of the camera.
  2. An external microphone connected to an independent audio recorder
  3. Built-in microphones on independent audio recorder

- Interviewing Techniques

Filming Interviews

Filming an interview is more than just filming someone answering questions. It requires a good interviewer, who understands the social aspects of interviewing and can make the interviewee feel at ease.

The Components of an Interview

Interviews are usually best shot in the following compositions:

  • Medium Shot (MS): From the waist to the head.
  • Medium Close-Up (MCU): From the center of the chest to the head.
  • Close-Up (CU): Only the head and face

A Note on Wide Shots (WS): A wide shot emphasizes the space instead of the subject. In many cases, the subject’s whole body is included in the frame. Wide shots are generally not appropriate for interviews because we cannot easily see the Interviewee’s expression. There are, however, times where a wide shot is appropriate for an interview. When there is something of special importance in the background, and it cannot be framed in a closer shot, then it is appropriate to use a wide shot for the interview.

In addition to the interview itself, it is important to get other shots:

  • B-Roll: Are images that the editor will cut together over the Interviewee’s voice. Usually they relate to the subject being discussed by the Interviewee. For example, if the Interviewee is discussing the architecture of the Potala, then you would want to get some shots of the entire building, as well as close-ups that illustrate the finer details.
  • Cutaways: These are usually Close-Up shots recorded with a second camera (if one is available). Cutaways isolate details about the Interviewee, such as hand movements or facial expressions. The purpose for taking cutaways is to give the editor more choices.

If you are shooting more than one interview, try to alternate where you place Interviewee in the frame, from left to right.

Step-by-Step Process for Filming an Interview

Before Shooting…

First find a suitable Interviewee. The best interviewees are passionate and articulate when they speak. If you get bored listening to someone, chances are the audience for you film will be bored too! If it’s possible to do so, have the Interviewee sign an Appearance Release before you begin filming. If it’s not possible, do it after the interview. An Appearance Release gives you permission to use the footage you shoot.

Setting up for Shooting…
  • Find a suitable background to place the interviewee in front of. The background is your chance to make the shot more informative. It should either reinforce the content of the interview, or echo the character of the interviewee.
  • Set up your camera and position the Interviewee against the background. This is perhaps the most difficult part of filming interviews. Here are some tips:
  • Always make sure that the Interviewee is brighter than the background. If the background is too bright, then the Interviewee’s face will be too dark. Here are some additional tips for avoiding too bright a background:
  • Never position the Interviewee with a window (or other light source) behind him/her. If you can, try to have the Interviewee facing toward the window (or light source)
  • If you are outside, film with the sun at the Interviewee’s back. Use the PhotoFlex to bounce light into their face. This will eliminate “Raccoon Eyes”.
  • Position the Interviewee. Place the Interviewee slightly off center.
  • Position the Interviewer. If the Interviewee is on the RIGHT side of the image, position the Interviewer on the LEFT side of the camera. If the Interviewee is on the LEFT side of the image, position the Interviewer on the RIGHT side of the camera. In either case, the Interviewer should sit or stand as close to the camera as possible.
  • Tell the Interviewee to always look at the Interviewer, and never directly into the camera.
  • The camera should be positioned at or just below eye level of the Interviewee.
  • Once you are satisfied with the image, you can begin the interview.

The camera operator should always start recording button before the Interviewer begins asking questions. To guarantee this, Interview should NEVER start asking questions until the camera operator gives the signal. The camera operator should not move the camera or use the zoom while the Interviewee is speaking, unless there is reason to do so. If you want to change the image size, do your adjusting while the Interviewer is asking his or her next question. Some appropriate times to move the camera or zoom during an interview are:

  • If the Interviewee starts becoming emotional: It is appropriate to zoom in here so we can see the Interviewee’s face in more detail.
  • If the Interviewee moves while he/she is speaking: It is appropriate to move the camera to keep a good composition
  • If the Interviewee points to something off screen: Sometimes it is appropriate to zoom out to keep the hand movements in the frame. Use your own judgment.
  • Always pay close attention to the sound in the headphones. Watch out for distracting background noises. Change locations if you have to. If there is an unexpected background noise that overpowers the Interviewee’s response, have the Interviewer ask the question again.
  • Never stop recording until at least 10 seconds after the Interviewee has stopped talking. You never know – they might add something important. You also need to give the editor a little bit of extra time so they have enough footage to make the cut in the right place.
For the Interviewer…
  • Never ask questions that will produce only “Yes or No” answers. Yes and No answers are almost never useful in final film. Remind the Interviewee to speak in full sentences. Ask the Interviewee to repeat him/herself if necessary.
  • Do not speak over the end of the Interviewee’s answer. Similarly, tell the Interviewee not to begin talking until you are done asking your question.
  • Maintain eye contact with the Interviewee at all times. This will prevent them from looking into the camera and keep them looking in the proper direction.
  • Help the Interviewee to feel at ease. If he or she is nervous, it will show on camera.
  • Respond to questions with a smile head nod rather than with “yes” or “uh-huh”. Whatever sounds you make will be picked-up by the microphone.
audio-video/creation-audio-video.txt · Last modified: 2014/10/28 16:00 by chenriot