Lightning Interviews


I'm shooting these interviews with my laptop's built-in camera and microphone ... very easy setup but marginal quality. I like it that way. I will focus on being impromptu and engaging.

My Formula

  • Visitor tells me about things I find interesting
  • I ask them to let me shoot a recap video
  • I ask just a couple of questions, emphasizing what they have already told me
  • I make it clear that I am impressed
  • Everybody is happy

I hope to ask the very questions that geeks climbing the ladder should be asking, questions like "how did you ever learn how to do that?"

I'm recording and producing video with Apple's iMovie. I've spent a day watching their tutorials and practicing. It took me a few hours to edit my first episode and less than an hour for the second. I'm still learning, of course. The following tips may help you duplicate and then better my work.

Before You Start

  • Don't shoot until the end of a good conversation. It will be easy to improvise if you are already feeling good about your guest.

  • Find a quiet space with good light. Turn up the thermostat to keep the air-conditioning off. The light does not have to be bright, but it does have to fall on both faces. The laptop screen can illuminate, so turn off the screen saver.

  • Take some still pictures for drop-ins and for collateral material.

  • Quit unneeded applications. I've had video record at 1 or 2 frames per second when I had too much going on. It was slow on the screen and equally slow in the video file.

  • Double check audio input levels and video aspect ratio.

While You Shoot

  • Sit closer together than seems natural. Look at each other and the screen. Think of the camera as a third colleague to be included in an intimate conversation. Gesture freely.

  • Hold still at the beginning and end of the interview. 10 seconds would not be too much.

After Shooting

  • Color-correct the whole shoot first, before breaking the one continuous take into little bits.

  • Place emphasis sound-effects in the quiet moment at the beginning of each answer. (I'm using Booming Rumble from the iLife clips.) Most reviewers hated this. I need something else.

  • Add titles front and back. Add music. (I'm using Chaise Lounge from the iLife clips.)

  • Create a permanent url and cite it in the credits. I'm using word-numbers for my first ten episodes that will become redirects when I figure out a better scheme.

  • Add metadata to the result. I don't know how to do this yet. iTunes has some idea but iMovie should be helping here.

  • Release with some automatic announcement via RSS and twit-jamming. This needs to be worked out before launch so people sign up for the feeds.


Last edited October 17, 2008
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