Digital Event

Media Training: Video Camera

Video Presentation: Good Presentation Skills Stand

  • Remember your audience
  • Draw people in with stories
  • Get people (your subjects) involved so they own the interview.
  • Destinations – think about where you’re going before you start the sentence/interview.
  • Keep it brief.

Especially for Academics

  • Many academics have worthy messages to communicate = boring.
  • Avoid your ‘inner vicar’/worthiness
  • Add glitz = tie it in with some kind of personal anecdote.
  • Why are they interested in you…(and not someone else)…
  • Trade off: relevance of self-stories whilst also remaining relevant.

Some Top Tips: The Interviewer

  • Most important = if you want to edit the content afterwards, answers need to stand alone. So, if you ask a question, the respondee should incorporate the essence of the question in their response.
  • Always be aware that you (as the interviewer) can be shut out of the final piece.
  • Explain the interviewee that the should try and focus on you, rather than the camera.
  • The verbal affirmatives we use in conversation all the time (e.g. uh-huh), you can’t use these in an interview, but this can be uncomfortable for interviewee. Warn them beforehand. Agree a signal for stop if they’re talking too long… Or just stop & I will ask you another question. Can’t interrupt.
  • The camera tends to be set at the interviewers eyeline. The failsafe. Height difference may involve cushions. With modern computer screens – shoot quite close in, but in order to maintain continuity – better to have 2 sizes of shot so an obvious change when required to edit.
  • Question people for multiple questions avoiding too short soundbites. Run questions together to get a longer answer.
  • Always have a list of questions lined up… Turn the question into instructions ‘can you tell me how things have changed since retired’ – makes easier…

Some Top Tips: The Interviewee

  • If you use hand gestures – let the cameraman know – as s/he may need to frame you  differently (hands bobbing in and out of screen = not a good look).
  • Smile & relax –viewers can see/hear. Look relaxed – animated but still. Lean forward if necessary – reaches audience.
  • Sit back properly – use a seat with a back. Place feet pprox.. 1 foot apart. Don’t cross legs – unbalanced.
  • The audience is only in the camera – but don’t look at it as the audience is essentially eavesdropping. Although the interviewer doesn’t appear the audience knows they’re there.
  • Notes – try not to look at notes, the camera, or the cameraman.
  • Be aware that you may feel “unnaturally close” to others, in their physical space – people want to move away – but needs to be intimate to avoid ‘shoutiness’.

Some feedback for @drbexl for her first video

  • Take time to prepare.
  • Pause before speaking.
  • Think about a scarf around neck
  • Learn to reply with standalone content.
  • Come to a solid stop, rather than petering out at ends of sentences
  • Personal experiences – come to life
  • Where you’re looking is really important.
  • Listen throughout so can ask question again at end if someone seems more relaxed
  • If mentioning ‘my PhD’, don’t – talk about ‘in my research’
  • Keep hands down…  clarity in points – care not to run together.
  • Engaging, enthusiastic, passion, listening, slow down further in, Hollywood smile, talk about a project name – say it in bold slowly…
  • Look out for ‘as I said earlier’ or a mistake – as interviewer – get them to stop and start again to make editing easier

FILMING (Equipment) Advice

The content we’re looking at is intended for websites,  rather than TV. A digital handycam all that’s required. Ensure have an input for an external microphone. Audio file more important than video usually. Once plug in an external mike – it disconnects the camera microphone. Ensure external has battery or will get no sound at all. Headphones ensure that you are recording sound. Look for tripods, maybe Gorillaz (be aware of issue with eyeline).

Most cameras have an easy/auto mode. Most now have face recognition so focuses appropriately – although it can be difficult to override.  Remember the rule of thirds…. Look at the crossover points/interest detail. This has become more important in widescreen TV. Ensure leave space for a speech bubble on screen – even if you’re not planning on adding one – good idea of space to leave! Forward shoulder nearest screen edge… No it’s the direction of the eyes. Advanced tricks = advanced course! Viewer is an eavesdropper unless want to talk directly to students. Close style.

  • Intro marketing promos etc – straight to camera Interview – but most videos are off to one side…
  • Rather than filming side by side, film at a corner angle. Do questions twice for different angle – is more post production but interviewer must also remember the question asked.
  • Not crossing the line – film behind a virtual line…  Deliberately cross the line to make it look like there’s an extra person on set…
  • Ideally 2 cameras but expensive & lot for cameraman to cope with…
  • Avoid pinhead at bottom of screen – common these days hairline to forehead – faces give away what people think
  • If grabbing experts – it’s often easier to grab a 2-way discussion – they doing a favour so can’t expect them all to remember.

Think about WHY worth doing in video (more time expense than text so why)

  • Avoid zooming / tromboning – unless doing a reveal… (e.g. start on a goat, zoom back to a mountain).
  • If walking around better to have camera on wide setting… Zoom difficult to keep steady. Always move closer to person if required…

Walking & Talking

  • Walking & talking shots tend to be more central … As difficult to keep in 3rds…
  • Slow meditative walk (avoid swaying & talking in time).
  • Top half of body = dynamic, bottom half steady/slow.
  • Walk as if on catwalk – feet one in front of other.
  • Use an easy pace for cameraman to stop/start with you / from about a metre away.
  • Don’t dither…. Track with the lens.
  • Move body to point to camera.

Dealing with Props

  • If something in shot – quickly acknowledge with hand/body what you are looking at.
  • Props need to happen in frame… Not a Cillit Bang advert.
  • Acknowledge prop – keep in shot whilst talking about it, then take it out of shot.
  • Don’t address speaking to the prop…
  • Keep hands relaxed by side… Do all movement with intent
  • Props – must face outwards to audience – intention is to show them, and it must contribute to the story/requirements of the film


  • Ins & outs  tend to be v forumaliac – we zoom over brow of hill, round a corner, start on e.g. an OU shield & drop to speaker.
  • In: Take 2 steps before start talking
  • Out: direct communication with audience… Hold smile at end… Count 1000 2000 3000.  Don’t grimace or gurn at the end…
  • OR Walk out of shot. Deliver last word & walk out with confidence…
  • If it’s a a standing piece don’t sway & fidget.

Some other thoughts

  • Smile when complimenting people.. And where possible/appropriate, with other words…
  • Look to see if shiny faces need powder…
  • If it’s boring, pass it up – can become viral…
  • On University websites – a friendly welcome for web sections – much more approachable than web text…

Some feedback for @drbexl for her second scripted/walk & talk  video

  • Knowing your script sets you free to perform… The Hollywood smile was missing.
  • Good pace… Do more of this in f2f life… aka slow down
  • Focus on bottom of the lens (not the light above)
  • Good interaction with computer, walking, etc…
  • Things such as pace face-to-face – come out more obviously on camera.
  • Bring phone, but use it as a prompt – e.g. reference websites
  • Script needs examples – e.g. Where Twitter has been used – like the NYT example…
  • Bit more rehearsal & couple more takes would probably have captured it – definitely worth doing more of this.
  • Look for more stories rather than lists … Paint picture rather than description

Some more thoughts on camera

  • If there’s a height difference – need to ensure camera up to the right height.
  • It’s the camera’s  job to anticipate what’s happening… control distance. Extra walk-throughs help
  • Check background – have you stood in front of something you wanted to feature? Have you got family photos which shouldn’t be in shot.
  • Rights – electronic release form (I agree for this to be posted x, y, z) for major contributor
  • For people in background … “You carry on – do you have a problem with being on camera”.  Event ticket = covers you. In street = legally can’t stop, but private land do ask. Never children without permission
  • It’s always a shooting script… Even after years of doing this…

A great course, read more about the course, which will also come to your University, and for £1200 work with 3-5 people.