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speaking to the camera

Posted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:31 am
by john ingham
any tips on speaking into the camera..i actually found this a little daunting

Re: speaking to the camera

Posted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 8:58 pm
by Willy
Hello John,

One of my friends is a camera man who works for Belgian TV . In some weeks he will have to film interviews at the "Tour de France". Some years ago he told my clubmates how to film interviews. There were 12 friends that night. We formed 4 groups of 3 people.

One was interviewed (A).
One asked some questions (B).
One did the camera work (C).

B had to stand next to C. So next to the camera.
A had to look at B while being interviewed.

Afterwards the interviews were shown on our screen to decide which group was the winner. It is essential that the distance between B and C is very short.

When making a documentary for instance it is good that you show the interviewer in the beginning of the film, but of course not when he or she is standing next to the camera. Example: a film about a silversmith... From time to time he or she looks at the interviewer and talks to him, but in the beginning of the film you show the interviewer who is standing at the other side of the workbench.

However, I think it is also good that A looks at the camera, not at a person who is standing on the left or on the right of the camera. It creates a feeling of close contact with the viewer. In this case the viewer is the camera. This time actually it is not an interview. So the silversmith talks to the camera.

We see it on TV everyday. In our TV-programme "Ordinary Food" for instance. The cook tells the viewer how to prepare ordinary food. Maybe there is a similar programme on the BBC. Also the newsreader looks at the camera. I used this method in one of my newest films called "The Apple of My Eye". One of mly clubmates collects vintage cameras. He shows the viewer how to clean and repair them. He speaks to the camera. I held a large paper with some keywords just behind my camera. Of course we had prepared the interview. My clubmate did not have to say everything by heart.

Re: speaking to the camera

Posted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:19 pm
by TimStannard
I see it slightly differently (or possibly just use different words) to Willy. In my view:

Someone who talks to the person just to the left/right of the camera = interviewee.
Someone who talks directly to the camera = presenter.

Many people are uncomfortable or find it difficult to talk to a camera. I often see their eyes glance away at the interviewer/director, so unless you know they are totally confident in doing this, I recommend getting them to talk to a person (maintain eye contact) just to the left or the right. Incidentally, if some interviewees look at the camera and some to the side I find it gives an inconsistent feel. certainly you wouldn't want to cut such interviews next to each other in the edit.

However, I've just remembered you were after tips for (presumably you) talking to the camera - ie presenting.

I'm quite happy doing this to a tripod and I know many people with steadier hands than me can talk into a camera while holding it, however, I find it is easier if someone else is manning the camera.

They should be looking at it at their eye level, whether through the viewfinder or the LCD monitor. This way I can speak directly to the eyes of the camera operator - there just happens to be a lump of glass in the way - and it feels more natural. Of course the camera operator needn't actually be anyone with any filming experience. You can just set the shot and get them to act the part of the cameraman. They are also useful for spotting things going on behind you that you would miss if self shooting.

Once you overcome initial self consciousness, I'm sure you'll find it can become quite natural - almost like talking to a friend with the benefit that hey don't answer back!

Re: speaking to the camera

Posted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:18 am
by john ingham
Once again Thankyou so much guys,
ive been doing a little practice , :lol: and have also got helen to stand behind the camera, this seems to work

On the disability day, I have managed to get one of our lads to do the interviewing, and he has a small amount of experience that should help..

I know the film won't be perfect by a long way, but if we can get some good interviews, and some nice shots, I am sure the message will come across

I am so pleased at the response ive received on this site from all you guys, its making my new hobby really enjoyable knowing people who know, take the time to help those of us who don't


Re: speaking to the camera

Posted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 7:57 am
by Dave Watterson
I just watched an 8 minute film on YouTube about an "open homes" day in a South West town where people showed energy-saving techniques they had adopted. It comes across as a series of quiet interviews with an overall sense of dignity and purpose. For technical reasons I saw all the raw footage (their borrowed camcorder shot tape and I was the only person they knew who still uses tape!). Those 8 minutes came from three hours of footage, much of which was zany, over-enthusiastic, confusing and apparently aimless.

The point is that the more you shoot on the day, the better your chances of assembling from that chaotic raw material a few minutes which will tell the story you want to tell about the event and the people taking part.

The advice was different when we used film - expensive film - and you had to plan your movie before shooting so that there would be as little waste as possible.


Re: speaking to the camera

Posted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 9:29 am
by tom hardwick
I had a job where an MD had to talk to camera for about 3 minutes. He was a perfectly normal guy until he had to face the camera, whereupon he stuttered, froze, swore and was generally pretty useless. It can be a difficult thing to do.

The cure? We all left the room. I set the camera running and ushered out his secretary, second in command and general lookers-on. He emerged from the room triumphant about 10 minutes later, having given me three perfect takes.


Re: speaking to the camera

Posted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 3:15 pm
by john ingham
I took 35 minutes of film to get 45 seconds :lol: this was of the two grandchildren who move faster than a greyhound, I got over this by turning the 45 seconds into a 90 second slow motion film to music :)

they were happy to take thier own little dance film home

I now look at films , adverts, interviews, in such a different way
ive even deleated my 1st film on vimeo ..I took another look and just hated what i was seeing,

Re: speaking to the camera

Posted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:35 pm
by john ingham
Ok !!! one week to go :D

Oooooo I so much want this to work..I almost feel young again :lol:

ive been thinking... Ive taken on board what dave has said..shoot loads , interview loads and have plenty to choose from in the final edit....

when we film the children , some will need some encouragement and prompting, I'm sure dave, who will be doing the interviewing, will cope with this and i think having Dave in the shot will help (dave is a real friendly chap who has a great smile....

when interviewing the disability officer (we do know her) I will adapt the way willy said..have dave near the camera and focus on her face..does that sound right ?

when we interview the helpers (we know these people really well) I thought having dave beside them would look more personal....whats your thoughts ?

I'm writing down the questions ..not too many ..
also i have taken on board what you said Dave ..when you said cut to a piece of film that would tally to the reference... In other words...

(interview with Dis officer)... How does this make a difference to the children
(Dis officer) (ie) Look at thier faces , thier smiling... (cut to child on kayak smiling) back to interview... (I know this will be done after in the edit room) I just want to get this right

I'm in no way nervous but excited.... if I can make a 8-10 minute film that is good..I'll be more than happy

once again..many thanks to all of you


Re: speaking to the camera

Posted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 1:25 pm
by FredD
Hi John,

"...ive been thinking... Ive taken on board what dave has said..shoot loads , interview loads and have plenty to choose from in the final edit...."

I think that first of all I would decide who the audience for this film, and the 'loads' of material that will get shot, is going to be. So I'll jump ahead to the edit suite, and throw in a few ideas which you may (or may not!) find worth thinking about !

From your posts on the preparations for this film so far, it seems that there are two likely audiences for the content.

So I think that there are two separate films (or 'cuts'), that could be made from the 'loads' of material you shoot on the day.

1. A film of the days adventures for the children taking part, their families and friends and the family and friends of the filmmakers. Audience : The children, their family, friends, and helpers.

2. A film which is to be part of a more formal approach to other local councils and authorities, to promote this kind of activity/outing for disabled children. Audience : local councils, disability support groups, potential funders, charities etc.

The first film, the 'family and friends version', could run for the 8-12 minutes that you invisage, and feature shots with your interviewer (a family member I beleive) in frame. Almost an 'anything goes' and 'lots of it' cut, that will hold the intended audiences without them getting bored.

The second film, I see as 3-4 minutes maximum. That 3-4 minutes would show children having a lot of fun in the boats intercut with tham talking to camera about the experience. I think this 'cut' would work better (and stay shorter), if it was fairly fast paced. No time for smiling interviewers in frame (or out), but the childrens voices/answers, straight to camera in MCU/CU.

"...(interview with Dis officer)... How does this make a difference to the children
(Dis officer) (ie) Look at thier faces , thier smiling... (cut to child on kayak smiling) back to interview..."

I think that the interviews with the helpers and the disability officer for this cut, should be simple questions to them from off-screen, that will allow them to make short replies in CU to camera. These could then be cut in with similar pacing to the childrens answers. The audience for this film will have less time and be less interested with the personalities of the helpers and filmmakers, and hopefully more interested in the images they see, and how these activities can greatly improve the quality of life for these disabled children.
So for this cut, the filmmakers, interviewers, helpers are 'transparent', and all we see and hear is the children having fun, and some very short comments from the DO and helpers !

Just my two pence worth John,

Kind regards,
Fred D

Re: speaking to the camera

Posted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 3:00 pm
by john ingham
your two pence worth is priceless Fred, it makes sense to make the film for the authorities short sweet and direct, and i will be re-reading your post when i come to Edit... and yes, the family, friends, and everyone else video will show a lot more :D

Many people think picking up a camera and pointing and shooting will make a great film... i know I did, until I joined this forum, all the advice from you and the other members who have taken the time to guide me through this massive learning curve has been fantastic, and I really want that to continue,and I really do thank you all

I can't remember being this excited about doing a project, there are also a few more now in the pipeline..but my concentration is firmly on this event,

I have done my check list, ive been told i have a Rib for the on water shots ..that will be fantastic.

ive spoken with the other organisers and got a firm plan to hand .... I also want to try some exciting shots that have been playing havoc in my mind :lol: I guess if you don't try, I will never know..and if they don't work, then they will be left out.

wish me luck lads ....

john :D