What goes where? – Composition Basics

Maybe you watched our documentary on NCRLA, and wondered about setting up a video interview, maybe not. Regardless, I wanted to share a few basic tips when composing your shot for a video interview. First off, you need to pick a place for the interview. Often times, people will want to do an interview in a certain room because they think the room is their most impressive or comfortable or just “looks the best.” However, it is important to remember that with a video interview, you will only see a very small portion of the room. So, you only need to have a small section of the room “look the best.”

When choosing a location, keep in mind that you want to have at least a few feet between the camera and the interviewee and at least a few feet between the interviewee and the background. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but it will give you a better depth of field and keep your subject from blending it with the background. (Note: in a tiny nutshell, depth of field refers to how much of the image is in focus.)

So after you pick a location, you want to choose where to put the subject in the frame. There is a pretty simple guideline for this called the Rule of Thirds. If you divide the frame in to thirds both horizontally and vertically with lines, you want to have your subject in one of the intersection points of the lines. You can look at this picture of a puppy for an adorable example of the Rule of Thirds:

Adorable Dog 16x9 with thirds(1)

 Next, you want to light the scene properly, for more information on that, watch this video we made on lighting basics.

After you have your subject lit beautifully and properly placed in the frame, you will want to eliminated anything distracting from the frame. Sometimes, what is not in the shot is just as important as what is in the shot. If you are interviewing someone at a messy desk, you might want to have a tighter (closer) shot that doesn’t show much of the desk. Or, you might want to clean the desk. Also, if there is a window or other really bright object like a lamp in the shot, you might want to move the shot the those objects are out of the frame. Simply put, you want to make sure the viewer is NOT going to be paying attention to something in the frame that isn’t your subject.

These are just a few basic ideas that can help improve a video interview on the visual side of things, but don’t forget about audio. For more on audio in video read this.

If you have any questions of this topic or other video ideas, let me know in the comments section. Thanks!

Bryan Reklis
Video Producer

Basic Lighting for your Video Production

Lighting is one of the key elements in video production and it makes all the difference when it comes to the quality of your video. Here are some lessons we’ve learned in lighting over the years:

  1. The quality of your video sends a message about the quality of your product.
  2. Using good lighting can make a huge impact.
  3. If you can, get a simple, 3 piece lighting kit – like this one for $800.
  4. Key light – Main light for your subject(s).
  5. Fill light – Secondary light that is not as bright and provides some contrast to the features of the subject(s).
  6. Hair/Back light – Helps the subject(s) stand out from the background.
  7. Windows – Don’t get a bright window in the back of your shot. Draw the blinds or move the shot.
  8. Adjustment Suggestions: Harsh Light – use a diffuser, move the light further away. Noisy Image – you need more light in general. Move lights closer, find another lamp or light source to add to the overall light in your shot
  9. Guerrilla Tactics: Use a window as your key light, lamp as your hair light and buy a $20 flood light on a stand from Lowe’s

Please share your thoughts on this video and questions for future video
blog posts. For a more detailed explanation and to see what these tips look like on camera, check out the video below which features a lighting demonstration.