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May 30, 2017

The Secret to Filming an Awesome Remote Interview

How to film remote interviewsFilming video interviews with popular influencers in your industry is a great way to stand out as a thought leader; however, as we’ve learned here at Vidyard with our own remote interviews over the years, sometimes you line up a terrific interview, but your interviewee is too far away for a convenient in-person shoot.

*note: we have not been able to get Oprah on the line…(yet).

When dealing with the remote-interview-challenge, you could book flights for your video crew, outsource remote production, or even get interviewees to shoot their response footage on a webcam for later mashup with home-base footage, but some of these options are costly and you don’t necessarily want to lose a spontaneous back-and-forth interview feel by arranging pre-taped footage. Alternatively, you could record a Skype split screen, but this can be a bit boring to watch.

The remote interview is certainly tricky, but I think the folks at Quarry Integrated Communications have found a clever solution.

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A Great Remote Interview: AQ’s Blog & Grill

Quarry Integrated Communications, winner of Marketing Profs’ B2B Agency of the Year Award, produces a great series called AQ’s Blog and Grill; a video blog showcasing industry thought leaders with an emphasis on branding and entrepreneurship.

With video services provided by Skylight Productions, the series has a very professional look and feel and they’ve scored high-profile guests from Gary Vaynerchuk to Guy Kawasaki.

Not every interview is remote but Grillmaster, Alan Quarry, certainly doesn’t let distance get in the way of a great interviewee. A great example is his chat with everyone’s favorite Marketing Prof:

How AQ’s Blog & Grill Gets it Right

This interview seems to borrow its approach from television and, if you’re up for it, you can incorporate some of the following techniques from the Grill in your own videos:

A strong, concise intro

After a quick series intro featuring the blog’s logo, Alan Quarry gives a succinct welcome to his guest. A lot of YouTube stars and B2B marketers seem to take forever to get into the meat of their videos, but this 18 second intro is clear and it’s all the video really needs to get viewers on board. Remember, if your audience has clicked through based on your splash screen, they’re interested, so give ’em the content already!

The interview is visually compelling

In this case, the visual style is the trick to perfecting the remote webcam interview. Although Ann is not able to be on location, the editor didn’t just intercut footage of the participants’ computer screens. The video includes establishing shots of the office, clever over the shoulder shots of the host interacting with the guest, and there’s even some subtle effects to keep your attention.

For example, the camera is on a slider, so there’s some dynamic movement to the over the shoulder shot (check out 0:38 to see this slide motion in effect). Overall, the interview holds your attention because you’re not just watching direct, head-on shots of two people for ten minutes.

You’re watching an interesting webcam conversation that maintains its visual appeal by mixing things up at an appropriate pace.

There are no distracting tech issues

Filming with a webcam is a great idea, but if your connection is unstable, your audio is off, or your guest freezes mid-sentence, it’s a waste of your guest’s time and you might not score another chat with them. If you take on the approach used in this video, note that it’s best to film on a retina screen because of the high refresh rate. Filming on a retina screen will eliminate the look of horizontal refresh lines running through the computer’s display and you’ll get a much clearer picture.

You’ll probably also want to ask your guest to connect to a hardwired internet connection. THe last thing you want is their footage cutting in and out during a great interview!

They’ve used great lighting and styled the look

With a beautifully lit office containing various pieces of visual interest, Alan’s desk looks natural and they’ve made a great use of what could be a plain space. The host is wearing bright blue which complements the yellow brick set, and there’s nothing distracting happening in the webcam footage. What I mean here is that there’s no glare on Ann’s iconic glasses (as you’ll sometimes see in webcam-footage interviews) and there’s no harsh shadows on Ann’s face from overhead lighting. When shooting a webcam interview, you’ll want to coach your guest to ensure they capture a flattering look. Watch out for glare on glasses, weird framing, background noise from vents at their location, and watch that they are not filming themselves in harsh lighting or in front of windows as this will make them appear as a giant shadow.

They’ve maintained spontaneity

We’ve all seen an interviewer glaze over as they ask their pre-written question in a robotic voice and then drift off as they wait for a reply from their guest and, frankly, there’s no quicker way to lose your audience. In this video, however, you’ll notice that even if Alan Quarry has planned questions for Ann, his delivery is natural, and he actively listens and responds to his guest in an engaging way. Whether it’s a webinar or a recorded interview, you’ll want to treat your video interview like live TV. That is to say, don’t look around while your guest is speaking, stay present, and engage. If your host is interested, the audience will stay with you.

Overall, because content marketers are aiming to emulate media companies, it’s fitting that your interviews mimic television. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, but you’re dealing with online tools so you’ll have to be savvy. Try out the Quarry interview technique and give your intercut shots some visual interest, especially when you’re filming a remote guest’s computer screen.

3 Other Remote Interview Examples

For a few other great examples, check out some of our top picks below. Note that the first two require a little lower production value and can be re-created without your own camera crew!

1. A simple shared screen example with Seth Godin

This is great when the star of your interview is a real thought leader, but staring at one person’s face even when they’re not the one asking the questions can sometimes feel a little awkward.

2. A split screen from AppSumo

The split screen can be accomplished through a tool like Skype, which also lets you record your session as it’s happening with no additional screen recording software required. AppSumo uses this approach for expert interviews.

3. A switch between big screen and live stream with Ben Mulroney

The TV show, “Your Morning” recently interviewed the first woman to walk the full Trans-Canada trail and they did so through a video call. Check out how they cut the footage in post-production to include her livestream in the room with host, Ben Mulroney, and a cleaner cut of her for viewers at home.

If you’ve seen any other examples of great marketing interviews, leave us a link in the comments section and tell us what you liked best about them.

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Jennifer Pepper

Jennifer Pepper

Jennifer is the Customer Success Content Strategist at Unbounce. One day she wants to direct the ads you skip on YouTube. Follow her on Twitter @PeppersWrite.

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