Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Some Problems with an Interview




A brilliant example of what not to do with camera during recording an interview.

I know some of my friends would not agree. But, the way the single shots are taken with continuously moving and handheld cameras is peculiar.

Over-the-Shoulder or suggestion shots do not work in interviews. They may work in the interview in a film, although Godard prefers to use the news interview style while showing interviews in his films (he moves between the personal and the interview spaces all the time.)

Suggestion shots do not work in the interviews because they distract. This is like putting a hilsa fish in gulabjamun and icecream.

Someone tried to experiment too much with this interview. This is what sometimes newbie directors ask me - to take fantastic shots out of a dry interview. To keep the nose in the same area in the frame - to follow the face in a tight frame.

They don't work.

Image Source       


To me, even Close Up shots don't work well in the interview. The Master Shot should be Medium Long - TV and Computer screens are big today (well, mobile phones are not.) Master shot means where all the characters are shown in one frame - the overall geography among characters is established. Master Shot does not necessarily mean a wide shot.

Close Up does not work well in an interview, because that makes the frame too packed. Viewer's eyes do not get any room to hover around. It sends a claustrophobic feeling to the viewer.

Close Up does not work in interviews, because we expect to see the body language of the speaker. At the same time, we cannot afford to see the whole body. We are already seeing that in the Master Shot.

So, the correct, psychologically effective, shot magnification would be Medium Close Up (MCU), where the frame keeps the speaker from the head (with little headspace) to just above the elbow joint.

The ideal cuts for such a static position are from Medium-Long Shot to a Medium Close Up, and reverse.

We call this cutting from one magnification to its next-to-next step. Medium shot (head to waist, or the American Cowboy - head to buttock) to the Long shot (full figure/head-to-toe with  little foreground in case of the previous cowboy shot).

The in-between shot magnification is Medium Long Shot, head to just above the knee joint.)

Cutting from the medium shot to the medium long does not look smooth, specially when the speakers are static.

Same goes for cutting between the medium long and long shot, or its reverse.

The classicism of match cut between the second-step magnification works in the interviews too.

And finally, the cameraman, or the Producer, should remember that camera is not the hero of this interview!



P.S. The  description of the Knee Shot/ Medium Long Shot for the girl is unusual. normally, that should end above the knee joint. Else, the legs may look amputated. Extreme Close Up for eyes, or mouth, or any other part significant part of face for the man is not shown.



Shot Magnification for GuyShot Magnification for Girl
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