Preparing for interview
In a previous post I shared with you my accidental learning – quite literally – when travelling down to Brighton to interview Clive Shepherd on his recent book The New Learning Architect.
Here I carry on the tale and summarise with some tips for preparing for interview.
I woke up bright and early, excited and looking forward to the day. I was all prepared and armed with a Google map and directions, I set out in plenty of time to find the studio which apparently was a 5 minute walk from the hotel. That is it would have been a 5 minute walk if I could match the streets with the map! My plans had been to arrive the day before at a reasonable time in the evening to wander around and find the venue but the unexpected incident at the service station had put pay to that. Nevertheless, I had, afterall, given myself ample time that morning so wasn’t unduly worried.
This was my first trip to Brighton and it was a superb warm sunny morning the day before Good Friday. As I wandered through the little streets following my map I was teased with the rich smell of coffee and pastries from the abundance of little cafes. If I closed my eyes I could have been wandering through the streets of Italy. No time for a coffee and pastry for me though.
Even at that early morning, the sun was hot and I began to wish I’d travelled a little lighter but even with some retracing of my steps finding the studio, I was still in plenty of time and found a shady spot to catch my breath and ring home for best of luck wishes.
The studio was small but very light and airy. There were two chairs positioned almost opposite each other just off-set a little. There was a very large piece of board, white on one side which was used to reflect the natural light from the window back onto Clive and me during the interview process.
There was one large camera on a tripod and what looked like an over-sized hand-held microphone.
Before the interview began, there were a few tests to do.
- A little footage was taken to test the light
- where best to position us
- checking camera angles
- checking sound levels
Because there was only one camera and one microphone used, this meant we had to film various shots out of sequence. The idea being to cut and edit the filming for a smooth final viewing.
First we recorded Clive answering my questions. This was the easy bit for me. Because the camera was on Clive, I could read my questions. The microphone was held close to Clive so my voice became almost a whisper when being filmed but this would be edited out later.
Then we recorded my questions. This time, I couldn’t read these out but had the benefit of checking them before each cut. It was still difficult though because I need reading glasses so needed to pop these on and off. Oh how I wished I had memorised the questions a little more. Either that or be less vain and keep my varifocals on! Although I would have still needed to take a quick check before each question.
Then we recorded what I call the noddies. This is where you film the people involved nodding whilst listening intently to the other person at different distances and angles for variety of shot. This is done all without sound as the idea is to edit these in over the talking so the interview has some visual variety.
Finally, we recorded me introducing Clive.
It was all a very interesting but odd process and seemed very disjointed but you’d never guess from the final edit.
The advantage of filming this way is that you only need one camera and microphone. In this instance, a quality camera was used, but it is feasible you could do a great job with a more affordable camera with a tripod and good quality external microphone. You’ll need some editing software too and there are some great affordable if not free tools out there that do a great job which I’ll explore another time.
The disadvantage from my experience here is the natural flow of the interview can be affected. For example, after asking my question, I was listening intently to Clive’s answers and was able to add little improvised comments. Unless you’ve got an excellent memory (not one of my strong points), this natural conversation style is very difficult and often lost when having to record all these as separate sequences.
If we had more time, perhaps we could have listened back to Clive’s previous question before recording my next questions thereby allowing me to provide a more natural link without it being too controlled. But as with anything, we have to work within the constraints we have and we had little time and would have needed something to play this back with.
With all the filming complete the next job was to turn that raw footage into a polished product.
I’ll continue to explore video interviews in future posts adding some tips along the way as well as sharing some thoughts on how these could be incorporated into a learning solution.