First Post: Please Review My Customer Interview Videos
Hello, first post here, seems like a great site!
Could any of you review my software testimonial videos? I work for a software solution company. I also have my own video production company, and have recently started using my own equipment to shoot and edit customer testimonials on the product we sell. I use a Sony TRV-950, and I edit using Premiere Pro.
I would like to hear any suggestions on improving the videos, as this process is on-going, we have many happy customers, and I will be producing other videos. If anyone has any links to similar videos, or any other relevant information, it would be much appreciated.
Thanks in advance for your comments!
Wow....you really need a lot of work. I'd suggest that you watch shows like 60 minutes, dateline, primetime, or CNN. Take note on how interviews are framed and shot.
Your videos have MANY problems.
1. The person should be looking at the interviewer just to the side of the camera lens. Many of your shots are profile shots, not very attractive.
2. Don't shoot the interview and the accompanying footage at the same time. For that warehouse interview, I would have found a quiet area to do the interview, and then I would have gone out afterwards and shot video of the areas he's talking about. Your shooting is terrible! You editing is not much better! Use a tripod!
3. On the second link, there's a woman looking left, cut together with a guy looking right. It makes no sense. The audio is bad, and again their angles are awful. They look like if you put up a split screen they would be looking at each other.
I sugest you hire a professional video company,and watch what they do. I also suggest that you take some video production classes. I'm shocked that someone would want to use this video in a corporate environment! Sorry I'm being so harsh...but it's like the bad singers on American Idol Auditions. Perhaps if someone told them the truth, they wouldn't have looked so foolish on national TV.
But thanks Greg for your honesty! I know I need some work, and I can take the bad reviews. (Our company and the customer was very pleased by the results, so who can tell?)
1) I do not like interviews where the person looks directly at the camera. I do like the idea of subject looking at the interviewer, just to the side of the camera, so I will incorporate that going forward.
2) That is exactly what I did do, film the interview first (on a tripod, believe it or not) and then went out to the warehouse. (Yes quite shaky, I will work on that or use a tripod for the B-roll from now on.) I shot from that angle because I wanted the computer screen shot, as he was talking about it. I did move the camera around a bit too much, and I zoomed in and out on the computer as well as on my subject. I will try to improve that moving forward, maybe I could take shots of the computer screen as B-roll or just set it up for better shots and edit later.
3. My first interview, so yeah the audio was terrible. I thought having the 2 folks shot from different angles made it more interesting, as if they were talking to each other. (I won't do that again either)
Well we won't be hiring a video company, after all I did this for free LOL! Believe it or not, we have been getting good feed back about these videos, we had nothing before, so these are 1000 times better than nothing. (hard enough for you pros to believe, but true)I will be watching the shows you mentioned with keen interest, and will be shooting with the end in mind from now on.
The other factor is I'm flying in and out of these interview scenarios with 1 carryon bag, and that includes not only my video gear, but all the materials for the rest of my job, so I am limited for space. I'd like to get a small portable light arrangement and/or a reflector to improve lighting, so any suggestions for that are appreciated.
Thanks again, Simon! (uh Greg...LOL) :-)
Sorry for being so harsh. I just got my second phone respose from a potential client who said, "we found someone to do our video at 1/2 of the price you quoted us"
Then I saw your post. Unfortunately you video is really bad, and it may be wonderful to your company, because they only wanted to get the info, they we'ren't really looking for a video to send out. But as others here responded...clients are dumb. I have to disagree with some of the other comments. I don't think lighting is as critical as is the need to shoot better interviews first. As I said and others said, have an interviewer right next to the camera, on either side. If you're interviewing miltiple people in one video, vary the sides, so half will look screen left, and half will look screen right.
you said "That is exactly what I did do, film the interview first (on a tripod, believe it or not) and then went out to the warehouse" In the video I saw, you were in the warehouse with a guy, and you just moved wildly from him to the shelves in the Warehouse. That's what looked terrible. No amount of lighting would help that camera work.
As someone else said, your editing was non-existent. You really need to learn and work hard on it. Having tools and using them is only one step. Consider someone cutting your hair, sure they have a scissors and comb. Now they cut your hair for free...ooops sorry about te bald spot! You may appreciate it becuse your hair is out of your eyes, but in reality it's a terrible haircut. Your video was a very bad haircut.
Your other comment I'm flying in and out of these interview scenarios with 1 carryon bag, and that includes not only my video gear, but all the materials for the rest of my job" is a case in point. Shooting video takes time, pre-planning, and the right equipment. If you can't do it right because of travelling alone, bring someone with you. You see you're really not doing this for free, you're costing the company money for your time away from your real job.
Thanks again for the reviews, I will be incorporating many of your suggestions in the future.
I understand what you mean know about the warehouse shots, you and others pointed out I should have stuck with the subject, and then went for the shots of the shelves. It is so easy to overlay nice shots over the subjects comments, I will really concentrate on keeping those shots steady, possibly by keeping all my shots on a tripod.
The idea of these videos is I am on these trips anyway, so it is easy to combine my job of software sales training with making interview videos. We are not going to send someone else on these trips just to lug around video equipment, but I am getting better at packing my gear.
I know it seems like my editing was light, I have taken courses in the past, so I need some refresher courses. There was about 10-15 minutes of interview that ended up cut, and there is not real limit on the interview time, so if we are getting good answers to pertinent questions, there is no real need to edit just for the sake of showing off fancy cuts....
Thanks again for the comments, they are very helpful!
Hey Terrence, I give you props for putting your stuff up and having it critiqued - I don't know if I'd do the same.
Donald Hume made one of the most generous offers I've heard on a board in a long, long time. You should definitely take him up on his offer.
The second video, with the woman and man intercut. I disagree with Greg, the idea is solid, but the execution wasn't. While it looks like they are talking to each other, they are conveying a message to the audience. They should be cut in a way that they each build on the other's story. They kind of do that, but the woman/owner speaks for long sections of time, and she's not getting to her points fast enough or interestingly enough. Then you cut to the guy, but only for a short time, then back to her for a long long time :-) The first 2 cuts in the sequence kind of work. She speaks for a few seconds, then he speaks, then back to her. Then it goes downhill. You had the idea right, just didn't implement it.
[Terrence C] " There was about 10-15 minutes of interview that ended up cut, and there is not real limit on the interview time, so if we are getting good answers to pertinent questions, there is no real need to edit just for the sake of showing off fancy cuts...."
All the comments towards your editing are actually designed to help you achieve your goal - getting good answers to pertinent questions. We're not talking fancy cuts. Nothing fancy about shortening interview answers. Some of the techniques you use change based on what alternatives you have.
Here's a concept to keep in mind when shooting - it's pretty classic documentary technique, which relies heavily on interviews. It's called shooting for ellipses. How can you shoot an interview so that you can cut stuff out of it. A couple of suggestions, get B-roll, different varieties. In the second interview, actually show the the copy machine or huge stacks of forms - put it over her talking. Also, run through questions twice or, if she's repeating herself often go into a tighter CU then you have. You can cut stuff out by going back and forth between a loose midshot and a tight CU.
When you don't have things to cut to, for instance she's naming off 4-5 different reasons why the forms they had weren't working, you can, without being fancy, break it up a bit by using "dip to black" - basically fade out then fade in. Not fancy, it's a visual equivalent of a bullet point in a presentation. They are done all the time.
Stuff like that is all designed to get good answers, and for an audience to be receptive to them. You should always be thinking when you are editing - did he/she already say that. Does this sentence or shot add something new? If not, cut it out.
One great idea is to do a paper edit of the interviews. Type it all out, including the pauses, the "ums', the "ands", etc. Then you can cut out on paper all the repetitive stuff, or find where the interviewee says something in a more interesting way. You can combine parts of different comments to form a new one.
One last thing, don't be afraid to direct the interviews a little bit - the first guy in the warehouse and the woman both moved around quite a bit. They were probably nervous. But you really need to keep them still. The best example was the first guy, because he kept twirling his chair.
Once again, kudos for coming on the Cow, showing your work, taking the constructive criticism (which is all meant to be helpful!), and being honest and accepting of it. Take Donald up on his offer, and post back here (even on this particular thread, if you shoot something new and think there's been improvement), I'd be curious to see how much better you are - and don't worry, we all get better every time we shoot/edit. Especially if we do what you are doing, getting feedback.
"Go slow to go fast"
I guess I would be called Simon and Boyd would be called Paula. I think Boyd's comments are excellent for the most part. I still think the guy and woman was weird. They should look at an interviewer, slightly off camera, not at each other. I agree that they should build on each other's story.
Why would you dip to black? If she's listing reasons, why not do word builds, or use words as a transition. I think dips to black with the same person on screen would be very distracting.
I agree with Boyd on everything else.
Hey Greg, I think we pretty much agree. I come from a narrative/doc background, so odd framing doesn't bother me too much. However, they do require much more sophistication than people realize - and it helps when you can use lighting, composition, shallow depths of fields, and depth within the shot, and...well you get the point. Then you need to have your editing chops finely honed. I've done it successfully, and I have done it, well, unsuccessfully :-) When it's done well, it's really a thing of beauty. I'm actually watching a doc right now on Discovery, "Jihad.com" (looks like part of the strand "New Al Qaeda"). The cinematography and editing are exceptional.
As for the dip to blacks, it was just a suggestion - I think there are different ways to do it. The basic problem is, how do you cut on axis with a composition that doesn't actually change.
You might start out by using a tri-pod and some lighting equiment... then experiment with how to obtain good lighting in various environment. Secondly, you might do the same with your sound equipment.
I am not sure what your viewing audience is... but, no matter... there are a LOT! of things you could have done better on both the making of the videos and the editing. In fact, the editing was almost non-existent and the making of the video did not seem well thought out.
You might try looking at digital juice's site... they have some good basic tutorials on how to do interviews and video camera work in general. The very basics in terms of videography and editing are what seem to be missing.
I didn't have a chance to watch everything, but I will offer a couple of simple pointers.
LIGHTS LIGHTS LIGHTS LIGHTS! Lighting is key in everything, especially interviews. A small light kit will set you back a few hundred bucks, but it's well worth it. In enclosed areas like an office setting, you don't need a great deal of light, but a couple of 500 watt lamps will do you good. Place one, heavily diffused, behind the person to give them some rim lighting, which will help them stand out from the background, and one or two in front of the person to light them up nice and evenly. I'd recommend two in front to make sure you light their entire face. And make sure you've got some diffusion on the lights, like a soft box, scrims, etc. Harsh lighting is sometimes worse than no lighting. :)
Also, a decent wireless lapel microphone will do wonders for your interview audio. Sony makes a rather inexpensive kit that's pretty good, for around $500 for a transmitter and reciever.
When shooting an interview, having the person looking at the camera is bad, but having them looking 90 degrees away from the lens is also bad. The person conducting the interview (IE: The interviewer) should be sitting immediately left or right of the camera, and the person doing the talking should be looking no more than say 30 degrees away from the lens, and even that's generous. That way you get to really see who they are, yet they're not talking directly to the audience, and everyone watching knows it's an interview.
When doing the walk through of the warehouse, I have to agree with the others, it may have been better to get the shots of the shelves seperately, instead of swinging the camera around wildly while the guy was talking. While shooting, get the guy talking, and keep him on camera the whole time. Then get the shots of the shelves relevent to what he's saying, then when you go to edit it all together, you can disolve away from the guy talking to show the products and help keep the video flowing and interesting. Swinging the camera around wildly makes some of us with vertigo dizzy. :)
I know you've probably gotten rave reviews from the clients, but really, clients are dumb. :) If they see a picture and hear sound, they're generally happy. Professionally though, there's a lot that can be done to really improve your technique, and the better you get, the greater the reviews from your peers and clients you'll get. It takes time, but I'm sure you'll get there. :)
Thank you as well for your comments. If you have read my other responses, I agree that there is a lot I can improve, and I will be incorporating your suggestions in future interviews. I will be looking into better lighting (it must be small and portable) and I am thinking about upgrading my wireless mike setup. I currently use Azden PRO, inexpensive model, so perhaps I could check out the sony kit you mentioned.
If you post the files as mpegs I will do a short edit/demo, then you'll have some direction of what you can/should be heading towards.