Remote video interviews: All you need to know

byAlan Haburchak
Jul 7, 2020 in Multimedia Journalism
Computer

This article is the third in a 4-part series based on training materials produced during the APAC video accelerator.

This article is part of our online coverage of reporting on COVID-19. To see more resources, click here.

In our current moment, travel is limited and in-person interviews are often impossible for most video journalists. But, that doesn't mean your news organization can't still get great interview footage to broadcast and/or publish online.

Below, you will find a few simple, inexpensive technical methods to facilitate and capture remote interviews between reporters and their subjects. I also explore the importance of thinking about how we’re reshaping reporters' interview techniques for the remote environment.

Recording a remote interview

At a basic level you need:
  1. A dependable audio and video connection.
  2. Time to troubleshoot with your video subject.
  3. A good method to record at least the remote subject.
  4. A backup recording if possible.

Example of a remote interview from BuzzFeed News’ Twitter show AM to DM.

Basic tools for conducting and recording a remote video interview include:

You can also use any of the above tools just to communicate, and record your screen to save the interview.

[Read more: Tips and tools for shooting video on your phone]

Basic tools for screen recording a remote video interview on your computer include:
On a Mac
  • QuickTime Player — Easy to record the screen. Audio is complicated. Free.
  • ScreenFlow App — Offers more options for recording. Can do editing afterwards. Software cost begins at $129.
On a PC

Subjects can also record themselves on their computer via the computer webcam. This is a great backup option, especially when Internet is spotty.

Other applications

[Read more: Be like water: 5 keys for adjusting to a remote digital video workflow]

Conducting a quality remote interview

How do we connect when we are far away? Here are some essential steps to take:

Before the interview
  • Spend extra time talking and connecting before you start the interview.
  • Budget time to fix your subject's shot and audio ahead of the interview. No one wants an interview that looks terrible. A badly framed shot distracts from the story.
  • Lighting matters, too. It's easiest is to have your subject look toward a window.

Example taken from actor John Krasinski's web series, Some Good News.

During the interview
  • Provide 100% more energy from yourself as the reporter once you start.
  • Take more pauses — let the subject talk even more than you would in person.
  • Never look away from the camera. Avoid looking at notes, if possible.
  • Keep up the energy and your subject will match you.
Other tips
  • Sometimes sound can be improved if the subject uses headphones. Make sure to ask them ahead of time.
  • Smartphone footage and photos can be useful B-roll to go along with an interview. Remember to ask your subject to send you some.
  •  Always try for two different recordings — a main recording and a backup.

Main image CC-licensed by Unsplash via Dillon Shook.