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three person interview setup

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Ben Hilton
three person interview setup
on May 5, 2014 at 3:34:10 pm

Hey everyone,
In the next couple of months I will be shooting season two of a series of interviews, with two people hosting them. Last season, we shot most of the interviews with the two hosts facing the subject in a semi circle, with one camera wide from the front,

and another Camera from the front also, getting tight shots of the subject and the hosts.

The Problem we found out, is that you loose a lot of the emotion, when you are shooting the tight shots on the side of their face. This season I want to setup differently, hopefully so that I can place a camera on a slider in line with the subjects face...

maybe behind the hosts? If so how would that work with two hosts, and where would the best place be to put the other camera. And where should the 30* line be.
Any ideas as to a good setup? I am open to anything.

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Mark Suszko
Re: three person interview setup
on May 5, 2014 at 4:29:43 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on May 5, 2014 at 4:35:02 pm

Camera 1 in your plot there may get picked up by camera 2. You're also flirting with breaking the 180 degree line rule.

It's really not that huge a deal to cross-shoot three people with two cameras, but I think your better control comes less from initial camera placement, than from how you stand or seat the three people. Seating them say, on portable director chairs, locks-in their facing positions. When standing, you have to instruct the hosts how to hold their bodies, so they point their toes at the camera, and only rotate from the hips-up, and not re-set their feet. Otherwise, they can end up turning too far side-ways, forgetting the cameras, and staying there like that... and then you're shooting into their ear, like in your demo shot. Face framing should include both eyes at all times, IMO.

My alternate plot:

How I would approach this would be that camera 2 cross-shoots to get singles and 2-shots of the hosts. Very occasionally, camera 2 can widen out to do an over-the-shoulder 3-shot from behind the guest as they talk, and you're watching both hosts reacting. This takes skill and timing to pick the right moment to do it. And don't do it too often.

Camera 1 gets single tight and medium shots of the guest subject only.

I'd also bring in a go-pro on a mic stand or tripod, for a locked-off wide 3-shot as editing insurance, but if that was not available, camera 2 can track an arc to the center gopro position temporarily, for an occasional 3-shot, then go back to it's main position. Technically, camera 1, the guest cam, could also track to the middle to grab a 3-shot, but my policy is that the guest is the most important thing, the reason you're there in the first place, so you should dedicate the guest camera to that as much as possible and let other cameras break-away instead.

The trick is good coordination of the cameras such that at least one camera is ALWAYS covering the right thing, while the other two are re-positioning and re-focusing. And your camera operators should make those changes double-quick, using manual controls to take as little time getting to the next framing as possible. How does that happen? You practice manual snap-zooming in-between the breaths and pauses of a person talking, and you practice listening to the pitch of their voice change as they signal that they are summing-up a point.

The locked-off 3-shot with the go-pro (or a cheaper go-pro imitator, even just a point-and-shoot) is cheap insurance that way. Intercoms, monitor shots of each others' cameras, and hand gestures, all can help coordinate the live shoot as if it is being switched.

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Ben Hilton
Re: three person interview setup
on May 7, 2014 at 10:43:38 pm

Thank you so much for the help.

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