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Interviewing children on video - help needed

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Anna Wall
Interviewing children on video - help needed
on Aug 15, 2005 at 7:44:21 pm

Hi All,

New to this forum, I thank you all in advance!

I write to you for technical advice and tips for how to best prepare and carry out interviews on video with very young children. We will carry out about 15 individual interviews with the children at their own homes: place with a lot of dust, different ambient sounds from animals, other family members, neighbors and top on that, there is some lighting challenges. The interviews will some times have to be carried out in the middle of the day with lot of sunshine shining in a place with lot of trees that creates a scene full of shadows where ever you point the camera.

The audio recording:
So, how can I best prepare myself for this challenging assignment? We will be a two-people team doing all the production. We will use a Canon GL2 and we are wondering about buying an extra wireless microphone and a XLR receiver mounted on the camera so we can let the children walk around freely during the interviews. Is the Beachmark the best XLR receiver option, and what about the wireless microphone? Unfortunately we do not have a big budget, so we cannot by the original from Canon. But, if using a wireless microphone, can we also use the Canon DM-50 Directional Stereo Microphone to record ambient sound at the same time? Or will the built-in microphone work well enough? Will this make the GL2 a very heavy camera without any possibilities to use a tripod since the XLR receiver will be mounted on the tripod head place? Do anyone of you have any experiences about making interviews with children on video? Please, I am anxious to hear about your experiences!

Lighting problems:
We will not be able to use any fill lights of whatsoever, so what should we think about when shooting during this harsh conditions? What camera mode should I shoot in? Manual, Auto, TV or AV? I still have not bought the cameras, so I cannot yet practice with it, so sorry for many questions. Apart from the camera settings, are there some simply tricks or accessories we can use in order to minimize the bunch of shadows all over the place?

Wide angle:
So the last question, if I cannot afford buying the wide-angle from Canon, what options are there?

I thank you all so much!


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Re: Interviewing children on video - help needed
on Aug 15, 2005 at 9:40:19 pm

Don't be offended, but here is how I read your post.

1. You don't have any equipment.
2. You don't have any experience shooting your main subject, children.
3. You don't have any control over your shooting conditions.
4. You don't have much budget.
5. You want to buy inexpensive equipment, but not very much, that will make your shooting go well.

Sorry, but all of these things together do not compute to a good outcome.

But let me post a few thoughts:

Do not spend any money on a cheap wireless system, it WILL fail to work when you need it.
Use a boom or lavalier mic ON A WIRE and have the children SIT for you, if they "run around" you won't record a good inverview anyway.
If they want to "run" then shoot that as B-roll (with the in-camera mic getting the natural sound) to cut in over the actual interview or in other parts of the video.
Since the kids will be seated during the interview, you can use a sun refector to brighten thier faces in the close-up shots.
(You can just use white poster-board or foam-core and/or spread aluminum foil over the board for more reflection).

If you can't afford the Canon WA lens, then shoot without it (its about the cheapest "good" one available).

If you use an XLR adapter ("BeachTek" is what you wanted to say) then you don't NEED to mount it to the tripod screw, just find a place on the tripod or camera to "stick it down" with Gaffer's tape or Velcro.

The nature of some of these questions are SO basic that it makes me very concerned that you might get into some "serious trouble" once you start these interviews.

On-location in isolated poor conditions is NOT the best place to go as an inexperienced crew.

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Anna Wall
Re: Interviewing children on video - help needed
on Aug 17, 2005 at 2:23:48 pm


Thanks for your demonstrated concern and tips. Yes, you are right, I am newcommer to videoproduction. But, fortunately, this production will not be commercial, it is more about learning by doing. Thanks to your "warning words" I have decided to hire a local cameraman for the most important recordings.

Thanks again, I really apreciate your straightforward answer.


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Re: Interviewing children on video - help needed
on Aug 18, 2005 at 12:02:41 pm

[Anna Wall] "I have decided to hire a local cameraman for the most important recordings."

Very good idea.

You will be able to learn so much more by working with, and observing, a pro.
That's how many of us got started in this business.

Hope your project goes well.

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