Advice for a zero-budget interview show sought

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by Scott T. Jensen, Sep 19, 2003.

  1. What I'd like to do is produce a video interview show that would be
    distributed over peer-to-peer networking (WinMX, Kazaa, etc.). Basically,
    two talking heads. What I have to do it with is two Sony Handicam
    DCR-TRV320's, two tri-pods for the cameras, and some friends willing to help
    out. As for the set, I could do it in my large living room for that homey
    feeling or there's also a possibility of doing it at a very nice showcase
    bar at a local micro-brewery after office hours when it is dead quiet. Due
    to just two cameras, I'd have one focused on the interviewee and the other
    would be basically shot over the shoulder of the interview and it capture
    me, the interviewer.

    Some of my big concerns at the moment are:

    1) Sound. Both cameras pick up sound but not sure how to handle this.

    2) Editing. I have a couple friends with video editing equipment, but
    wonder what would be the best to use. Best as also not very expensive.

    3) Lighting. Any cheap ways to properly light this small set?

    4) Make-up. First, is it needed? Second, if it is, what is needed? I have
    some female friends willing to take care of the make-up if needed.

    5) Release forms. First, are they needed? Second, if so, can I use
    standard forms? If I can, could someone point me to a URL where I could
    download them from.

    6) Any other tips???

    Thanks in advance!

    Scott Jensen
    Scott T. Jensen, Sep 19, 2003
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  2. Scott T. Jensen

    DK Guest

    Pick one camera as your primary sound camera - and run a mic into it. Don't
    use the built-in mics. If you can, consider using two wireless sets, one for
    each person - in which case you would use both cameras and sync your sound
    in post. Provide a sharp sound (hand clap or such) as a sync mark before the
    You will be a lot happier with NLE. BTW - my above suggestion won't work
    unless you CAN do NLE. A reasonably basic computer with a capture card and
    an extra 30GB or larger HD should do fine.
    See if you can find back issues of Videomaker magazine in your local
    library. A couple years back they had a good article on this. If not, look
    into some basic lighting books from the library.

    The work lights that have round reflectors and use standard bulbs are pretty
    good - use 200W bulbs and you'll be fine for lighting.
    Probably not, in most cases. Especially for internet broadcast - TV makeup
    is rather subtle and it will be lost on a streaming broadcast
    I would stick with powder for covering shiny spots on the interviewer and

    Failure to get one can potentially open you up to all sorts of legal
    trouble. Don't go there.
    Certainly. "Contracts for the Film and Television Industry" has some good
    basic ones you can modify.

    Email me (medwyn at medievalmarketplace dot com) and I'll see if I can find
    one of my old ones for you.
    If you're in Southern California, I may consider helping you get things
    rolling - I've done EXACTLY this before...
    DK, Sep 19, 2003
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  3. Scott T. Jensen

    MSu1049321 Guest

    A good place for you would be Go into the forums and use the search
    function to look up SO MANY answers to these and related questions, and there
    are numerous people there from DV magazine to help you out with your sound and
    lighting suggestions for free.

    You can cross-shoot with one camera looking at each talking head, but you can
    also mix that with one camera on a 2-shot and the other right next to it on
    singles, panning back and forth to whomever is taking the topic. You cut to the
    wide shot to cover until the tight shot cam is stable, then cut back to that.
    You can also cut in reaction shots from other places in the show. Breaking it
    up this way is more like what we do in "real" television. For simple DV
    editing, it is hard to beat the free imovie program on macs. on the PC side,
    you can get free or cheap versions of Adobe premiere and the various Pinnacle
    products when you buy a firewire or video card. Microsoft also bundles some
    kind of entry-level editing program, you can try that, I suppose. But you can
    also get to try out a variety of editing software for free in the British DIGIT
    and Computer Arts magazines every month, for PC or mac. I get mine at Barnes &
    Noble about 13 bucks a pop.
    MSu1049321, Sep 19, 2003
  4. That's doable. What's a good cheap mic to buy?
    What do you mean by wireless? Like those bugs informants wear to mafia
    meetings? :)
    If I use one microphone, I'm concerned about either the interviewee or me,
    the interviewer, not being properly picked up by it. Then having one that's
    loud and the other that's too soft. Putting the microphone between the
    interviewee and interviewer would seem to be the solution, but it could
    still mean one's not going to be picked up as well as the other. I see this
    as a sound editting nightmare just waiting to happen.
    And "NLE" stands for???
    "capture card"???
    I have at least that. 80GB hard drive and a 1GB RAM.
    I'll check out the library and see if they have it.
    Define what is a "work light" please.
    Is this one on the blub (like those blubs that have that metal coating on
    their tips) or on the "shade" behind it that reflects the indirect light
    onto the subject?
    So I can use standard blubs in place of the work lights?
    The shows will not be offered on streaming video. Just downloadable files.
    Tentatively planning on offering it in DVD quality and then in
    lower-resolution mpeg fashion. The lower resolution being a smaller file
    size for those that would like that.
    Sorry, but I'm a guy that's never been in a school play or musical ... and
    that would have been over 20 years ago. What do you mean by "powder"? Or
    will my female friends know what I'm talking about when I mention it?
    I take the above as a "yes", right? ;-)
    That was my thought.
    Where is this located at?
    Thanks. I've already fired an email off to you. :)
    *sigh* Unfortunately, I'm in Madison, Wisconsin, USA.

    Thanks for the help though!

    Scott Jensen
    Scott T. Jensen, Sep 19, 2003
  5. Thanks! I'll head off there after replying here.
    This would then give my friends that will be operating the camera something
    to do. Hmmm. I suppose I'd only need one camera operator then, right? The
    wide-shot could be stationary and static. Once it is set up, it should be
    good to go.
    I'm not planning on having an audience at this point. Maybe later, but not
    at first.
    I have a PC. I'll ask my computer friends if they have Adobe or Pinnacle DV
    editing programs.

    Thanks for the help!

    Scott Jensen
    Scott T. Jensen, Sep 19, 2003
  6. Scott T. Jensen

    DK Guest

    Onne warning - check your cameras and be sure they have microphone inputs!
    Not all cameras do. If they're higher-end cameras, they probably will.

    For a directional mic, I've had good luck with the Radio Shack shotgun that
    goes for about $60. It gives a pretty good sound for the money. However, it
    IS a directional mic - the best use in this situation would be to have it
    pointed between both subjects from about 10' away.

    There are some decent low-price omnidirectional mics at Radio Shack, too - I
    would take your camera in, and ask to try out the demo models - see which
    one works best being set between both subjects to pick everyone up.
    2 mics is the best way to go - that's what they do on the pro shows (Tonight
    Show, etc.) When I say wireless, I mean like what they have.

    Wireless - like the Azden WMS-PRO system - is the best way to go. You have
    two options there - you can either run them so one goes into each camera and
    sync them, or you can run them into a mixer. There may be less expensive
    wireless systems at Best Buy or the like. The ideal setup would be to have a
    2-channel reciever with 2 transmitters, each hooked to a lapel mic. Run both
    channels into a mixer, then run that into your camera. That way, you can
    adjust levels at the shoot, which is a lot easier than adjusting it in post.

    The Azden WMS-PRO runs over $200 - so that's probably not in your budget. Go
    take a cruise around Best Buy and get a look at the wireless options -
    remember, you want LAPEL mics for what you're doing.
    NLE - Non Linear Editing. What you'll want is to get a video capture card,
    capture the video onto your computer, then edit it using one of the many
    programs available for editing (you may want to visit for
    some tips on good editing programs and capture cards for a budget). If
    that's what your friends have, then you're in good shape. If they are using
    a linear editing system (where it basically records from tape to tape),
    you'll have a lot of problems keeping your sound in sync, and if you don't
    like an edit near the beginning, you have to go back and redo the whole

    If you get the equipment yourself, remember to get an EXTRA HD - you don't
    want to capture onto your primary HD.
    Do you have any money to spend on this at all?

    I'll get some pictures of what I mean and post them online, then I'll
    provide a link so you can see what I'm describing. Although the ones I'm
    going to show are photo lights, they sell similar things at Home Depot.
    Also, many photo shops have sockets and reflectors fairly cheap.

    Back to the videomaker magazine - I clearly recall an article on making
    "do-it-yourself" reflectors from umbrellas and foil. This is another
    possibility. Or, just get a white umbrella (or any color, and paint the
    inside white) - they reflect the light against the umbrella and onto your

    What's worked for me in the past is to make on key light (the brightest
    light) illuminating both subjects, spaced fairly evenly from both (but NEVER
    in line with a camera), then a seperate fill for each (fill is a less bright
    light that fills in the shadows so they aren't so dark). All in all,
    remember, you want pretty even lighting for what you're doing.
    Probably. It's exactly that - a powder that's put on with a puffy make-up
    pad. Generally, the only reason to use makeup is to cover anything that
    would be distracting - like shiny spots on the nose or forehead. A little
    bit of neutral powder or flesh-toned powder would handle this - and anyone
    who knows anything at all about makeup would know what these are.
    Your library might have it, and you can certainly find it online (
    or such). Also, check out - he may have some stuff there for
    free download.
    I got it - I'll see if I can find one and get it sent off.
    Good luck with it - it's a bit of work, but it can be fun.

    Just a thought - I would recommend doing a few "dry runs" - that is, get a
    couple people to sit and talk for a few minutes while you shoot, then go
    through the full process of editing to a completed 2-3 minute clip. That
    way, you'll be able to work out any problems BEFORE you're doing the real
    shoot. Experiment a little first, when it won't matter quite as much.
    DK, Sep 19, 2003
  7. Scott T. Jensen

    MSu1049321 Guest

    I'm not planning on having an audience at this point. Maybe later, but not
    at first.

    No, you misunderstand, not audience reaction, the face of the person listening
    to the person who is talking at the time. often, this is very important
    non-verbal visual communication, as well as a handy way to add pacing, visual
    variety, and emotion to a show. it can also cover small mistakes.;-)

    You said you live in Madison. Univerity of Madison Wisconsin has one of the
    most renowned television and multimedia course traacks int he country... you
    should audit some courses there, as many as you can afford. A bonus would be
    that you would have access to their studios and gear for real hands-on

    Likewise, you can take a production course at your local cable Tv local access
    channel, which is often run thru the local community college for a nominal fee.
    they will teach you everything, let you use the gear, (REAL GEAR!) teach you
    to edit, and even put your finished shows on the cable channel. party on,
    Wayne, party on Garth.

    Not to be indulting, but You are at such an entry level, as evidenced by your
    messages, that the best thing for you is not to try a piecemeal approach to
    learning this, go with a training program at the cable station or even
    community college. In the long run, it's going to save you lots of money and
    MSu1049321, Sep 19, 2003
  8. "DK" wrote ...
    A $25 "lapel" mic clipped on the subject is almost always
    better than even a $2500 shotgun 10 feet (or even 5 feet)

    Investigate Radio Shack Cat # 33-3013 I have no first-hand
    experience with this product, but if I were doing interviews
    on a limited budget that is where I would start.

    Note that likely 99% of all professionally-produced, sit-down
    interviews are miced with clip-on mics! Pros know what
    works best.

    Absolutely. Trying to do this with one microphone (of ANY
    kind or price) is something even professionals with unlimited
    resources avoid.
    Not for a sit-down interview. Never use a wireless mic when
    a wired mic will work. It is more hassle, more risk, and FAR
    more expensive to get a wireless mic with equivalent quality
    to a wired mic (like 10x).

    You have two options there - you can either run
    Connecting the mic to the camera that is shooting the person
    (interviewer or interviewee) is the most straightforware and the
    most flexible.
    If you were to put that to a vote here, I believe it would be
    rejected soundly (no pun intended!) Especially when starting
    out and fooling around with 2 cameras, inexperienced crew,
    etc. etc., the more that you can put off until post-production,
    the better/safer you are.

    DV (probably the most commonly used here) takes ~ 13Gb
    per hour as a rule of thumb.

    There are some articles/tutorials online showing how to make video
    production lights from the "work lights" sold at home warehouse stores.

    Same difference. Video distributed via internet is compressed
    so much that subelties such as makeup frequently disappear.

    If you care about quality in DVD, then you should consider
    makeup as part of the production requirements.

    Check out.. for a good general online class.
    In particular, they have release forms including this...
    Richard Crowley, Sep 20, 2003
  9. Ah, I get you now. Hmmm. I was just watching the Fox news channel. And
    they had some host/newsman talking to two guests. They showed the host on
    the left in a large box and the two he was speaking to in two smaller boxes
    on the right. What if I did something similar. At the beginning of the
    interview, the large box would be on the left and show the interviewer (me)
    as I introduce the guest. To the right of the big box would be a smaller box
    in the upper 2/3's of the right side and it would show a wide shot of the
    interviewer (on the right) and the interviewee. After the introduction, the
    big box would switch to the right and contain the interviewee, the smaller
    box would shift to the left showing what it was showing before. Both during
    the intro and interview, underneath the smaller box would be the show's
    title. This way the viewers are moving their eyeballs to follow the
    conversation. Less of the body language is lost.

    Now if I decided to get a third camera, I'd have two small boxes on the
    left. The top small box being a close-up of the interviewer (me) and the
    bottom small box being the wide shot of the interviewer and interviewee.

    What do you think of the above idea?

    Is there a computer program that could arrange the images in this way? A
    cheap/free computer program?

    I would also suspect that once properly set up, I'd not really even need a
    camera operator. I'm simply thinking ahead when the "fun" aspect has faded
    for my friends.
    No insult taken. However, I don't mind if the product is rough at the
    beginning. I think that will have a bit of charm if it is. I'd just like
    to get my hands dirty and not just talk but do. Learn as I go along.

    Scott Jensen
    Scott T. Jensen, Sep 20, 2003
  10. What if I did the three-box view set-up I proposed in my reply to
    MSu1049321? Would I need the same stuff for that?
    No problem. I have a 13.5 GB hard drive I can slap into this computer right
    I'm trying to keep costs to as small as possible to launch this on. A
    nickel here and a dime there eventually adds up.
    Thanks. I look forward to it.
    Now this is what I like. I like the idea of such a set. I think it would
    have a certain appeal to my viewers.
    So the most powerful one being below or above the cameras with two more on
    each side to handle the shadows?
    Ugh. I'm being currently attacked by the virus that is hitting posters to
    newsgroups. Being a co-moderator of four newsgroups, I'm getting hit extra
    hard. Could you email me it at scott dot jensen at charter dot net? That's
    a little used alternative address I have.
    Thanks for the help. And I do hope it will be fun. I'm taking an easy
    attitude towards this. My first series of interviews are going to be with
    people with unusual and/or interesting jobs.
    Most definitely. I was thinking of doing longer test interviews, but you're
    probably right that I'd only need 2-3 minutes each.

    Scott Jensen
    Scott T. Jensen, Sep 20, 2003
  11. Thanks for the tip! I'll check these out.
    Sounds logical.
    How about in the set up for the three-box view I proposed in my reply to
    I'll try to find them using Google.
    I do. I have a female friend that's willing to come by to do the make-up.

    Scott Jensen
    Scott T. Jensen, Sep 20, 2003
  12. How about my volunteer production crew? Let's say I don't give children
    nightmares when they watch my interviews and the interviews actually gain a
    following and even ... wonders upon wonders ... become popular and get
    corporate sponsorship. Yes, yes, I know I'm probably dreaming, but humor
    me. If this were to happen and I had a falling out with one or more friend
    that helped me with the initial interviews, could they come back at me later
    and demand a part of the production company and/or royalties? Even if they
    only ran the camera once for one interview where I never got a penny from
    anyone to do. Should I get them from the start to sign release form too?
    Or don't I need to worry about this until I actually get some fool ...
    *cough* ... I mean an advertiser to pay to have me have their pop cans or
    whatever visible on the set during the interview? Are there standard forms
    for this?

    Scott Jensen
    Scott T. Jensen, Sep 20, 2003
  13. "Scott T. Jensen" wrote ....

    All those production techniques have their place. It depends
    on what your resources and requirements are. From your
    previous descriptions, these seem very blue-sky methods
    and well beyond your resources and requirements at this
    time. Start with the basics.
    Many (most?) video edit software will do this at some level.
    Perhaps. I'm to busy actually USING Premiere to go and
    research and fool around with other SW.
    You don't have enough real-world experience to make such
    a speculation. Shoot a dozen and THEN come back and
    address this notion. :)
    Learn how to get the audio and lighting right, THEN you can
    start experimenting with innovative camera techniques. If you
    can't see or hear the interviews, the camera moves and special
    effects will just look stupid.
    Richard Crowley, Sep 20, 2003
  14. Scott T. Jensen

    MSu1049321 Guest

    if this is ultimately for the web, your streaming codec may choke on all the
    visual info you're trying to cram into it with three boxes of moving video, not
    to mention that three faces on screen at once maks each separate one smaller,
    and even harder to see in the realplayer window. When you watch a TV news
    show with people in boxes, it's because they are all satelite feeds from
    different locations, and this is the only way to put them 'together' inthe
    'same' room. Evn then, this is not something you want to do over an entire
    show. You introduce the people in the boxes, open the question, then as each
    person chimes in, you cut to full-screen of the talker, with occasional bumps
    out to multi-boxes if there is obvious agitation among the others.

    Three camera multicam editing is NOT for you, yet.
    Shoot for two cameras, that you will find to be quite challenging enough at
    MSu1049321, Sep 20, 2003
  15. Scott T. Jensen

    DK Guest

    Agreed - the shotgun approach is, however, something that I have used in
    these situations in the past, with surprisingly good sound. That specific
    mic seems to work well under such circumstances (better than the expensive
    ones, actually).
    Definitely the best way to go.
    To use your same argument - the pros know what works best, and the pros use
    wireless mics. Watch Leno, Letterman, Conan, etc. and you'll see that to be
    the case.

    You may be right about the price. In the past, Radio Shack used to carry a
    wireless camera mic that ran about $50-75. I have not been able to find it

    OTOH, doing a search online shows me the following:

    B&H has an Azden WLX-PRO system for $135 at

    Adorama has a Bescor BMW-PRO system for $119 at

    And if you're looking for cheap, there's a Nady 151-VRLT for $76 at

    The Azden WMS-PRO goes for around $250 - and it is quite a good mic for this

    I'm not as familiar with these, but generally, when you're setting the
    cameras 10-15' away from your subjects you don't get much of a problem with
    interference and the sound is pretty good.

    I will certainly grant that a directly wired mic will work better. There are
    some downsides, including the fact that you will have to deal with the wires
    possibly getting in the way, you may have to buy extensions, as the cords
    they come with may not be long enough, and if there is any movement at all,
    the wires will wind up getting in the way. If a guest walks on or off the
    set, you will have all sorts of trouble if you're using a wired mic.

    The best advice I can give is to determine what you want to spend on
    wireless systems and go try some out. See what works within your budget. If
    the only thing you can afford is a wired lapel mic, then by all means use
    that. But be aware of the potential problems.

    In any case, though, the BEST results will come from lapel mics on both
    subjects - the shotgun approach is workable, but not ideal by any measure.
    Good point - it adds to what you're doing, and when starting off, there's
    already enough to worry about. Now, if you have a friend who has a mixer and
    knows how to use it, that's another story.
    DK, Sep 20, 2003
  16. Scott T. Jensen

    DK Guest

    You're getting way too ambitious for your level of experience. Besides, IMO,
    that sort of stuff is actually more distracting than helpful. Keep with the
    "Tonight Show" format for now - it works.
    Most NLE programs should be able to do something like this. I've heard some
    good things about vegas. Again, check out for info on that
    subject - there's been a couple recent threads about editing programs under
    When I did this in the past, with 2 cameras, I would occaisionally change
    the cameras around a little - perhaps by zooming one out to a 2-shot, or
    changing to a tighter shot from a medium shot. You don't have to, and
    shouldn't, at first. But as you gain experience, you can start playing with
    it this way - which will keep things interesting for the people helping out,
    There's some really good books about this sort of stuff, too. Also, I would
    highly recommend checking out the info available at
    for a start.They sell a lot of stuff, but there's some good free material
    available, too.
    DK, Sep 20, 2003
  17. Scott T. Jensen

    DK Guest

    A good computer NLE system can handle that, but I strongly recommend against
    trying it until you have a LOT more experience.

    All the best talk shows I've seen simply cut between their subjects (host
    and guests) - they don't use the fancy graphics. It takes away from the
    That's about an hour of DV quality video. Probably enough for now. You'll
    want to expand later.
    There may be a similar article online - check it out with Google. Also,
    Videomaker may offer back issues or article reprints, if you can't find that
    issue in the library. It was about 2-3 years ago, as I recall.
    The EASIEST way to handle it is to shoot under fluorescent light. But watch
    the white balance if you do that - otherwise it will look funny. It's also
    by no means the BEST way to do it.

    Using the standard "3-point" lighting system (which you could do with the
    umbrella lights I mentioned), you would typically place the key and fill
    lights slightly above the subjects pointing down. You may be able to use
    only two (one key and one fill) or you may have to use 3 or 4, depending on
    how much area the light covers and how far apart the subjects are. If the
    lights are above the subjects, though, you should also consider a softer
    light in front of them on the floor, to soften the shadows under their chin
    and nose. Another consideration may be a "rim" light, or back light, to give
    a slight illumination around the edges of the subjects to set them apart
    from the background. Personally, I don't think this is necessary for what
    you're doing, but you may like the effect.
    DK, Sep 20, 2003
  18. Scott T. Jensen

    DK Guest

    Probably not a concern, but contracts and/or releases from everyone involved
    is always a good idea. Generally, they get money if you get money FOR THE

    Do you get Wally George where you live? Try to find him. IMO, it's a stupid
    show, but it's not much beyond the level you're working at, and he's been on
    the air for years now - and has advertisers!

    If you don't, I'll see if I can tape a copy of it for you...
    DK, Sep 20, 2003
  19. "DK" wrote ...
    Completely different kind of production. If you are shooting
    a show where the host and guests walk on and off the set
    during a live program, of course wireless mics make sense.

    But I'll say it again. 99% of all the sit-down interviews you
    see on TV use WIRED clip-on mics. I am assuming he is
    talking about interviews like 60 Minutes, History Channel,
    etc. show. Talk shows are not interviews by my definition.

    No professional would use a wireless mic when the situation
    permits using a wired mic. There is just no advantage and a
    ton of disadvantages.

    Most people I know who have been there and tried it now
    believe that wireless mics <$200 are toys, and <$500 are
    usually too cheap to be reliable. If you can't afford a good
    one, rent it, or do without. Cheap wireless mics are, at best,
    a gamble and are usually a prime waste of money for low-
    budget videographers.

    I know that is a controversial statement here in
    but I dare you to ask it in
    and see what the
    production sound professionals say. Note that to them
    anything <$1500 or $2000 is a "cheap" wireless mic.
    Richard Crowley, Sep 20, 2003
  20. Scott T. Jensen

    DK Guest

    If all involved are going to be sitting down and not moving around, then I
    certainly will concede the point. I just want him to consider all the
    ramifications - if people are moving around, a wired mic can cause
    difficulties. But I'm with you in that if they're just sitting, a wired mic
    is better, as well as cheaper.
    I've had very good luck with the $250 Azden WMS-Pro model - at distances of
    up to about 50 feet. Sound is good and at close ranges there is no
    interference to speak of.
    Of course, we ARE talking about a micro-budget production, not a TV show or
    a feature. There is a place for the low-end mics, and this is probably it.

    But, again, if nobody is moving around, I'll agree that a wired mic is the
    way to go.
    DK, Sep 20, 2003
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