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Remote interviews?

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Terry Barnum
Remote interviews?
on Mar 26, 2020 at 6:47:09 pm

We typically shoot interviews in-house or on location with a crew but that's not possible right now so I'm investigating alternatives. Has anyone had success sending a simple, small 4k camera to an interviewee and then driving the interview over Zoom or Skype while recording to the 4K camera?

The Zoom 4k camera (not the videoconferencing company) looks like it's pretty simple to operate, has some lighting presets, is inexpensive if it gets damaged in transit, etc. The Sony 4K action cam has a mobile app to control it via WiFi but I think it creates a private, local network like GoPro so it wouldn't be controllable remotely over the public internet.

It would be great to see what the camera sees and ideally make adjustments from the remote location. Maybe a 4K PTZ is a solution? The ones I've seen seem to be for surveillance and are wide angle.

Thoughts?

-Terry


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Jason Brown
Re: Remote interviews?
on Mar 26, 2020 at 10:09:12 pm

I've been facetiming on an iPhone - set the shot, fix the lighting...plug in a small rode mic into the cam and then end facetime call - go to camera and record. You can't monitor the recording...but you can set another phone nearby and keep yourself on mute to ask questions and do the interview. Not perfect, but works in a pinch with tech likely already in place.


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Terry Barnum
Re: Remote interviews?
on Mar 26, 2020 at 11:58:21 pm

Thanks Jason. I apologize, I'm not sure I'm following your process. Is my understanding below correct?

You FaceTime with your interviewee to help them set up a camera, lights and a mic you've sent them. Then guide them in framing the shot with them showing you the camera monitor screen via FaceTime? They start the camera recording, take their position and you drive the interview via FaceTime audio/phone call audio, muting when needed?

-Terry


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Jason Brown
Re: Remote interviews?
on Mar 27, 2020 at 12:50:38 am

[Terry Barnum] "They start the camera recording, take their position and you drive the interview via FaceTime audio/phone call audio, muting when needed?"

No. Your interview is audio only on another device.

It works better if they can have a second person (spouse, etc) change from facetime to camera so they don't change their positioning.

Their camera holds the media - you can transfer it after the call. This works well when you control the relationship with the on-camera talent. If they are doing you a favor...it's a bit of an ask because you need them to basically do your job.

There is another solution called "open reel" by a company called Crews Control. We used them last year, but just didn't use the tool enough to re-up the contract. It's a live interview at low streaming quality, recording is done locally and then uploaded once you are done recording - it's slick, but only works internationally in a limited number of countries.


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Greg Ball
Re: Remote interviews?
on Mar 27, 2020 at 7:04:42 pm

May I ask why you need to shoot interviews in 4K? How is this being used?

Just let them shoot their own response to you on their iPhone or Android device.

Maybe send them a lav microphone that plugs into an iPhone. The give them some pointers for shooting. Give them some lighting basics as well.

Watch any news show and they are using either webcams or iPhones.

Greg Ball, President
Ball Media Innovations, Inc.
https://www.ballmediainnovations.com


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Terry Barnum
Re: Remote interviews?
on Mar 30, 2020 at 5:01:16 pm

[Greg Ball] "May I ask why you need to shoot interviews in 4K? How is this being used?
Just let them shoot their own response to you on their iPhone or Android device.
Maybe send them a lav microphone that plugs into an iPhone. The give them some pointers for shooting. Give them some lighting basics as well. "


Hi Greg. Thank you for the suggestions. The interviews are for long-form, documentary style training. My reasoning for 4k was the flexibility to re-frame in addition to being able to push in for the faux second angle. Providing the client with a pre-configured camera with fresh batteries and media would reduce their tech burden as well as make the recording device a known quantity to us. I totally agree that a phone setup is great for news, but I don't think it would work for our productions. We could use FaceTime to help them setup the shot, lighting and background though.

-Terry


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Mark Suszko
Re: Remote interviews?
on Mar 31, 2020 at 5:00:08 pm

We are living in science fiction times.
Back in1967 a sci fi writer, Norman Spinrad, did a story called "Bug Jack Barron", about a future TV talk show host, doing a show very much like today's "The Daily Show". The show featured live interviews between Jack at his desk, and a guest interview subject live on location. This science fiction story predicted the first African American President and legalized pot, sold by the federal government. The plot revolves around the talk show host uncovering a deadly scandal.

How the show in the book worked was, the guest would be at their office or home or wherever, and a messenger would arrive with an envelope. The packet contained a small self-broadcasting camera/monitor the "guest" was supposed to set up on the table next to him or her. The interviews were often set up like the "gotcha" interviews made famous on the early "60 Minutes" shows. If you didn't open the envelope and submit to doing the show, the messenger had you on a second camera, live, showing you ditching the opportunity, and fear of looking scared or guilty on live TV coast to coast forced most people to submit and do the show, wherever they were at that moment.
I think it would make great movie or series today, I'd cast Patton Oswalt as the talk show host, but Hollywood would probably pick someone like Aaron Eckhart...

Meanwhile in the present, there are a couple of stand-alone webcams that can remotely do multicam live shots by manipulating a 4k image to simulate a 3-cam shoot with programmable wide shots, 2-shots, closeups, bumpers, pans, etc. in a pretty small package.

What you don't get with these things is any sort of lighting or really professional audio. While you can shoot very high quality interviews with a properly prepared iPhone, it definitely needs help with audio, at least a plug-on shotgun, preferably a lav. And a soft light panel. Those come in roll-up LED versions now so it's not impossible to mail something the size of say, a briefcase with all the components put together as a "fly-away package" . I could imagine the inside of the briefcase containing the soft light, camera mount, mic and monitor, plus a bonded cellular modem and ifb. You open the case and lay it sideways and bam, it's a self-deployed interview station... I mean, you have most of that built into any laptop now, but most laptop video sucks without a lot of augmentation.


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Terry Barnum
Re: Remote interviews?
on Apr 1, 2020 at 9:40:55 pm

As a fellow science fiction enthusiast, (professor of a college class I took called it predictive fiction) I like where you're going with this!

[Mark Suszko] "webcams that can remotely do multicam live shots by manipulating a 4k image to simulate a 3-cam shoot"

Do you happen to know which webcams these are?

-Terry


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Tim Wilson
Re: Remote interviews?
on Apr 3, 2020 at 6:50:52 pm

[Terry Barnum] "Do you happen to know which webcams these are?"

Hi Terry,

I'm sure there's more than one, but one I'm familiar with is Mevo, a company that Vimeo acquired not that long ago, with this exact scenario in mind. The specific model is Mevo Plus, and as Mark mentioned, starts with a 4K source to extract the equivalent of multiple "views".

There's a bunch of other nifty stuff built in, like auto-framing moving subjects, and an iOs or Android app for switching "sources" with some options for letting the app do the switching itself if you don't have someone free to operate the stream, various ways to connect to multiple streaming platforms, and other stuff you can take a speedy look here.



I've not used it myself, but there's also a gallery at their site that shows a bunch of videos made with it, and I'm honestly impressed. Some great "multicam" music stuff that I especially dug, but also some nice interviews set up as a classic "two shot" that created a nice automatic version of a 3 cam shoot -- 2 closeups and the master. It's obviously not the same as true multicam, but for a few hundred bucks, it's crazy clever. https://mevo.com/shot-by-mevo/


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Mark Suszko
Re: Remote interviews?
on Apr 4, 2020 at 8:56:27 pm

Mevo specifically was one I was thinking of. I might buy stock in that this year, as it would be a very popular tool for all the distance-learning customers and such. Drop-ship it, plug in and go.


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Joe Marler
Re: Remote interviews?
on Apr 2, 2020 at 3:00:02 pm

[Greg Ball] "Just let them shoot their own response to you on their iPhone or Android device.

Maybe send them a lav microphone that plugs into an iPhone. The give them some pointers for shooting. Give them some lighting basics as well. "


I agree with this. Assuming it is a late-model iPhone or Android, the video quality is quite good -- given proper lighting and framing. They can shoot HEVC which at 1080p is very small, even for a long interview or instructional talk.

The app DoubleTake by Filmic can shoot two simultaneous angles on an iPhone 11, e.g, telephone and wide, albeit currently limited to 1080p:
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/doubletake-by-filmic-pro/id1478041592

There are lots of inexpensive iPhone tripods or gorilla pods which facilitate placement and framing.

Audio is very important. I've used this Rode SmartLav+ and it worked fairly well: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1059342-REG/rode_smartlav_smart_lav_...

Of course sending that accessory kit (no matter how small and inexpensive) might work OK for a single site but if doing many remote interviews at different sites it might not be practical.


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Greg Ball
Re: Remote interviews?
on Apr 3, 2020 at 2:28:19 pm

Thanks Joe. The mic you listed has a mini plug. There are lots of lav mics with lightning connectors that would work with iPhones.

Greg Ball, President
Ball Media Innovations, Inc.
https://www.ballmediainnovations.com


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Tim Wilson
Re: Remote interviews?
on Apr 6, 2020 at 10:07:39 am

[Mark Suszko] "Mevo specifically was one I was thinking of. I might buy stock in that this year"

I don't know if you meant that literally, but Mevo is from Livestream, a subsidiary of Vimeo, which is in turn a subsidiary of IAC (InterActiveCorp), a holding company that also encompasses the Match Group (Match.com, OKCupid, Tinder and others). They all trade on NASDAQ under the symbol IAC. Roughly tripled over the past four years, although down a bit from 52 week highs.

Another subsidiary of IAC, ANGI Home Services, includes Angie's List. They do trade separately (NASDAQ: ANGI), but are down 75% since 2018.

I don't know much more than that, but I don't see an easy way to capitalize on what I agree is a pretty compelling pitch from Mevo, other than buying one of their cameras and making money from the videos you shoot. ☺ I can certainly imagine you making good use of Mevo for some of your performance videos!


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