Common Framing Mistakes
When doing an interview, it's important where you place your talent in relationship to your camera. Now, the first thing to keep in mind is where is the camera vertically? It should be about two inches under their eye line. If you make it too low, they're going to be overbearing on their viewer. They're going to be looking down on their viewer and that could be a real challenge. On the flip side, you don't want to make it too high because if you make it too high, it's going to be like you're looking down on the person. I'm going to get down so our cameraman doesn't have to jump around a lot. So where you position the camera is key to how the person is perceived when they're being interviewed, about two inches under the eye is really good. It gives them a little bit more dominance and control, but it's very subtle. Also, where they're looking left and right of the camera, you want them to be looking a little bit off camera, but not too far because if they're looking too far, this is dis...
tracting. Maybe as a cutaway, but in general, you want them to be looking just at the person who is interviewing them. Now there might be a situation where they need to look directly into the camera. Maybe they're talking directly to the audience. That's fine. Keep in mind the other rules, high and low, but this is key. They can't look into the camera, and then off camera, then into the camera, then off camera because that's distracting for the viewer and what happens a lot of times during an interview, is they're trying to be polite to everybody else in the room and they start talking to everybody else and then they go back into looking at the camera. So be sensitive to that when you're having somebody talk to camera. Framing is important also. If somebody's talking to camera, you can have them perfectly centered in the frame. However, if they're talking off camera to the side, you need to lead them a little bit. So if they're talking, you want a little extra space over here because that's natural. The worst thing you can do is either have too much space behind them, so if there's a lot of space behind them, it's like a horror movie. Somebody who's sneaking up on, stabbing them. You don't want that. It's this stressful feeling. Additionally, you don't want them centered perfectly in the frame if they're talking off camera because, again, you have too much of this empty space over here. If you need to, you can also lead a little more because maybe you have a picture in picture or you're going to bring something in, such as a graphic in front of them. In that case, you can lead a little bit more. So how much space you have in front of them is really key. In addition to all that, you have to take into account what's happening behind them. You want it to be a nice clean space, whether it's a white wall or a brick wall, that's important, but let's take a look around the room. I would never put somebody in a framing like this because it's visually too noisy, and that's going to be really distracting. You might have people walking back and forth. The only time I may get away with this is maybe I'm doing an interview in a factory and I want to see some action. But remember, if you see things happening over a person's shoulder, that could distract your viewer from what they're saying and could, again, give you a less of an interview. And finally, you may be using natural light, but be very careful if you have a bright window or a bright light source from behind them because you're going to be facing one of two things. Either they're going to be in silhouette and that's good if you need anonymity, if you're doing something but then change their voice, or if you need to open up your iris so that they're properly exposed, the whole window gets blown out. So be sensitive to that. Dealing with daylight is very, very hard because the sun is so much brighter than most of the lights we can bring in. So all in all, when you're framing a person, when you're setting up where they're looking in an interview, keep all of these things in mind and you'll end up with a much better shot and a much more successful interview.