3 Tips for Shooting Better Interviews

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Over the past few months, we've been writing articles that have to do with working with video productions companies. We talked about the time it takes, the cost, and the value you can get from it. However, we know that not everybody has the money to work with an external company. We also know that some marketers are just more interested or keen to produce something themselves. There is a certain sense of satisfaction when you learn something new and create something hands-on yourself. After all, it's a big reason for why we do what we do at BiteSite.

With this in mind, we thought we'd put together some articles on some do-it-yourself advice and techniques. In this article, we're going to talk about shooting better interviews.

Testimonial videos are a great place to start

If you're just getting into video production, testimonial videos are a great way to start. They are sometimes also referred to as unscripted videos, documentary-style videos, or talking head and B-roll videos. These are videos that feature people talking about a product, a service, or a company edited together with some music and shots of what they are talking about.

A good reason to start with testimonial videos is they are a much lower risk production - they require a lot less input and can get you just as much output. On the input side, planning a testimonial video can reduce the amount of work you put in up front. You don't have to secure shooting locations, you don't have to cast actors, you don't have to get set dressing and wardrobe, and you don't have to hire a hair and make-up artist. Not to mention your time that you spend in concepting and scripting (or question writing) is usually a lot less when compared to scripted works. So there is a lot less to think about. On the output side, the video can be just as powerful if not more powerful than scripted works. Hearing genuine testimonies from real people can have a big impact on your audience. Your audience a lot of times won't care that the location you shot in was plain looking, or that your interview subject wasn't lit that well - they will focus on the message and what your interview subjects are saying.

Yes, there are testimonial videos that are super high quality and have huge amounts of production put into them, but when you're starting out, you can get away with minimal setup.

For these reasons and more, a lot of times when we deal with first time clients, we start with a testimonial video.

So, we recommend that if you're starting out, you start with a testimonial video as well.

The role of the interview

When it comes to testimonial videos, the heart of the production is the interview. It's the driving force of the edit and the final video and the better your interview, the better the video will be. We plan to do a whole piece on interviews in the future, but let's briefly talk about why it's important to get a good interview.

Yes, testimonial videos feature a lot more than just an interview. They'll have music, maybe some motion graphics, and lots of B-roll shots. However, these are usually elements that are there to supplement the main event - the interview. A lot of times we use motion graphics or B-roll shots to cover up edits or reduce monotony, but in the final edit the audience doesn't notice that. The audience sees a nicely constructed video in the end and the main thing they'll probably notice is the interview - and that's a good thing.

Most testimonial videos should really be centered around the interviews as they are the best way to drive your message and connect with your audience. In fact, when we edit a testimonial video, we always start with the interviews. The best interviews can stand on their own and don't require things like B-roll.

However, the way around is not true. If your interview is bad for whatever reason and you're producing a testimonial video, things like motion graphics and B-roll won't be able to save it.

So that's why it's crucial to get a good interview.

More than just technical

It's important to note that there is a lot that goes into getting a good interview. There are things to do in pre-production such as research, concepting, messaging, question writing, pre-interviews and more. We will cover those in future posts. In this post, we're concentrating specifically on the technical aspects of shooting an interview - in other words, making your interviews look and sound better.

So here are 3 tips for shooting better interviews.

Tip 1: Frame Better

When it comes to shooting interviews, one of the easiest and cheapest things you can do is simply place your camera in a better position. Here are some things you can do to get a better frame.

Get closer

When people start getting into shooting video, it's a natural tendency to be afraid of close-ups and stay far way from the interview subject. However, getting a tighter frame on the interview subject makes the interview more intimate and helps the audience connect with the person speaking. Now you don't want to make the subject feel uncomfortable, but try to get as close as you can to get the framing right.

So pick up your tripod and move it closer to the subject.

If you happen to have a zoom lens, you can also zoom in as far as you can. However, if you do this, be sure you are using optical zoom rather than digital zoom.

If you're unsure about how close, a "medium close-up" is a good place to start which includes the subjects head and shoulders.

Rule of thirds

After you've gotten your frame tight enough around your subject, the second thing you can consider is the rule of thirds. If you don't know what that is, there are a ton of tutorials you can find on the internet about this, but in short, you divide your frame into 3 sections horizontally and vertically and then place your point of interest on the division lines. For an interview, your point of interest will be your subject's head or eyes.

Have the interview subject look at you

Lastly, to get a good classic frame, you as the interviewer should sit beside the camera and have the interview subject look at you rather than at the camera. Beginners have the tendency to stand directly behind the camera so they can watch the screen and fiddle with settings. However, a more interesting frame is to have the subject look slightly off camera and the easiest way to get them to do that is to have the interviewer sit beside the camera.

Now, if you're a one-person team, you'll still want to sit in a position where you can occasionally glance at the camera to make sure everything is recording ok, but spend the majority of your time just talking and engaging with the subject.

Rules are made to be broken

It should be noted that these rules are broken all the time - but they are done so with motivation. So if you're just starting out, it's better to learn these rules and get used to them until you have more experience and a motivation to break them.

Tip 2: Sound Better

You will hear this time and time again: audiences will forgive bad video but not bad audio. It's true, without fully realizing it, and surefire sign of a amateur video is bad audio. So to separate yourself from the masses and to really up your game, you should improve your audio.

The key to getting good audio is to get your microphone as close to the interview subject as possible. Now, moving your camera closer will already improve results, but it most likely won't be enough.

This is one area that we highly recommend investing a bit of money into. The best way to solve this problem is to buy a separate microphone to record your audio. We recommend a lavalier or lapel microphone like the Audio Technica ATR3350is which goes for about $50 CAD or the new Deity V.Lav microphone which goes for about $70 CAD. Both these microphones work great with most cameras and most smartphones and will improve your audio dramatically.

If you don't want to invest that money but have another smartphone lying around, check out Wistia's article on shooting video with a smartphone. They have a great tip on placing a second smartphone close to the subject and recording the audio with a app like Voice Memos. You'll have to do some work in post-production to sync up the audio, but the results will be worth the work.

If you want to hear the difference a lavalier microphone can make, check out the video above.

Tip 3: Light Better

The last tip for making your interviews look and sound better is to light your interview subject. A lot of times videographers will place an interview subject wherever is most convenient or just based on the background. However, if you spend 5-10 minutes looking around, you'll probably find a space that will have better lighting.

A good rule of thumb is that you want to find a place that has a LOT of light. Big offices are usually good because they have a lot of overhead lighting, but if that's not the case, try to find a big window or even consider doing your interview outside. A big bonus is if the light is coming from one direction light through a window. That way you can position your subject in a way that will create a light on their face.

If you are dealing with overhead, harsh lighting, watch out for unflattering shadows under your subject's eyes and nose. Moving the subject slightly forward or backward can usually solve this.

Finally, if you have some money to spend, you can actually do a lot with a small LED light like the Neewer 160 LED Panel which goes for about $35 CAD. If you need a light stand, you can also pick one of those up for $25 CAD here.

Check out the images below for some lighting ideas:

Happy shooting

As we mentioned, interviews are a key part to a testimonial video and getting better interviews will definitely give you a better end product. While there are many things to consider when getting good interviews, the 3 tips above are a good place to start.

Casey Li
CEO & Founder, BiteSite

Corporate Video Case Study - Iridian Spectral Technologies

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Lately on our blog, we've been talking a lot about the value of video. Check out any of our recent posts to see more on this topic. In this post, we'll be continuing that theme and taking a closer look at one of our past projects. We'll see how a promo video we produced for a past client was able to help with their marketing efforts by creating awareness for their company. The video in question was done for Iridian Spectral Technologies. You can view it here. Iridian Spectral Technologies creates a variety of custom thin film optical filters for its worldwide client-base right here in Ottawa, Canada.

This video was one of our larger productions, and we're happy to say that this project was big success as well. Everything from pre-production all the way up to the marketing of the video after it was completed went smoothly and was executed well. While there are many angles we could take in looking back on everything that went into making this video a success, we'll focus on just a few areas that we hope will be of benefit to our audience.

We sat down with Jason Palidwar, Iridian's account manager who was involved in the video's production and marketing efforts, to hear his thoughts on the value of their video. To hear what Jason has to say, you can check out the video in this post, or read on for a summary of his answers.

Why Iridian Wanted A Video

Iridian already had a lot of marketing materials to promote their business. Whether it was promotion through their website, print materials like brochures, or attending trade shows, Iridian certainly had ways to attract and interact with potential customers. So, why did they want a video to add to their marketing strategy? Jason tells us that they believed video would be an effective way to create more awareness of their company. Not only this, but they were also looking for a "more unique and complete way" to communicate who they are what what they do. Given that Iridian is a service based company with a whole lot to offer, they saw video as an effective way to communicate their service. Jason not only saw video as an effective way to showcase what Iridian offers, but also the people who make up the company and their facilities.

The Effort Pays Off

At BiteSite, we love clients who are willing to work with us to craft a video that they will be delighted with and excited to promote. While we understand that we can't always get absolutely everything we might want from a client throughout the production of a video, it is often the case that the more effort the client can put in, the better the video will be.

When it comes to involvement, we've outlined all the steps a client can be expected to take in their video's production in one of our past posts. You can find that post here.

When it came to this particular project, we found that Iridian was especially willing to put in the time. So, we were curious as to what made Iridian such a willing participant in their video's production.

Jason let us in on their mindset going into the production. Simply put, Jason figured that if they were going to invest a significant amount of money into the video, they should put as much of their own effort into it as well. Not only that, but involving themselves in terms of offering access to their internal facilities and allowing us to interview a variety of their people allowed them to really showcase the spirit of Iridian and what makes them unique. Jason notes that if they're trying to sell their company by way of their people and the interactions they have with clients, then it's a good idea to show the world who those people are.

How To Market A Video

We noted that after completing the video and delivering the final cut to Iridian, it quickly garnered a lot of attention online. At the time of this post, the video sits at about 101,000 views on YouTube. We asked Jason what marketing efforts they put into the video that led to so many people seeing it. Jason mentions that they posted the video on their website and linked to it through social media. As well, they had online marketing partners promote the video further; they set up YouTube ads as well as pop-up ads on other websites. The pop-up ads in particular were targeted specifically towards people of a certain location who had also visited their website (a marketing strategy that Jason notes is known as "geofencing").

Was It A Success?

Lastly, we asked Jason if they got what they wanted out of the video and if it was a success in their eyes. Jason told us that they in fact got "fare more than we initially bargained for" from the video. Jason got a lot of feedback from people in the industry that they had seen the video and thought it looked great. Overall, Jason got the sense that they were generating a lot of awareness for Iridian, which was their goal to begin with.


So there's a quick look at one of our past projects and how it was a benefit to the client. Besides getting a polished video showcasing their company to place on their website, they were also able to generate awareness by promoting the video extensively online. This project was a strong testament to the results you can get the client treats their vendor relationship as a true partnership, and puts in the marketing efforts after the final video is delivered in order to have it deliver.

If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to comment below. Stay tuned for more!

Tim Clark
Filmmaker, BiteSite

A Surprising Benefit of Making a Corporate Video

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BiteSite has been in business for over 6 years now and we've had the amazing privilege of making a lot of corporate videos for a variety of clients.

When we started, we had a less formal process but we definitely found it important to get at the heart of what our clients were trying to say. Whenever we had a kick-off concept meeting, our goal was always to leave that meeting with the confidence that we could sell our clients' products or services.

It was that passion for our clients' culture and message that led to a surprising benefit that a couple of our clients have now commented on.

Concept Meeting

One key part to our process is having a collaborative concepting meeting where we ask our clients questions like "What is your key message you're trying to convey?", "What is the culture or mood that you'd like to evoke?", and "Who is your key audience?" In doing this, we get a good picture of everything that our clients are about. We really try to buy into everything to the point where we feel like a small part of our clients' companies.

Although I have not worked directly for marketing firms, I would imagine this is a common messaging exercise.

Distilling it down

Where things get interesting in terms of video production is that we introduce the constraints of video. Most video aims to be short and easy to consume. We're talking in the neighbourhood of 30 seconds to a couple of minutes max. So with these constraints in mind, our next step is to ask our clients tough questions about what is truly essential. We ask them "Are there certain aspects of your messaging, your culture, your services that we can cut out?" For some clients, this comes really easily, while others have to make tough decisions. When it comes down to it, when you have such a short time to communicate a message, you want it to be simple and short.

Don't make the mistake of trying to cram everything you can into one video.

The Surprising Benefit

So after going through the exercise, you end up with a nice, simple, well-thought out and concise message. You end up with a quick way to communicate exactly what it is you're trying to get across. Once you have this, you can now apply elsewhere: to other marketing materials, to your presentations, and to your daily conversations.

So even though your ultimate goal is to end up with a video that you can share around the world, making a corporate video has the added benefit of putting your through an exercise that forces you to think and communicate in simpler, easier to understand, well-thought out terms.

Thanks for reading.

Casey Li
CEO & Founder, BiteSite

How To Get More Value From Your Corporate Video

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When you put time and effort into your work you'll naturally want to see the fruits of your labour. When it comes to producing videos, you'll need to be your own marketing maven in order to get the desired result of having your video seen and responded to. The mindset of both producing and marketing your video is key in having it be successful online, and there are things you can do to gain this attention. In this post, we'll be looking at tactics to implement both before hitting record on the camera, and after publishing the finished video. First, let's look at how to plan your video for success from the very start of the process.

Plan For Marketing Success

Strategically planning your video can be effective in achieving high view counts and receiving the desired response from your audience. It shouldn't be expected that posting a video on YouTube without much thought put into its marketing strategy will instantly yield more sales and visibility.

When it comes to planning your video, you'll want to consider your audience and craft your message based on who you're targeting. This might sound like marketing 101, but it's an area that needs special attention when it comes to video. Video production is often an exciting process, where there are a lot of ideas on the table in terms of concept and visuals. While this is a great thing, it can sometimes lead to there being too much focus on having a video that looks fantastic, but misses the mark on what you're trying to achieve with it. Defining a clear and concise message for the video, based on who you're targeting, is key. All your decisions thereafter should be in line with what your audience will connect and resonate with.

Besides having the right messaging, it can also be tempting to want to include multiple messages and concepts into one video. Again, video is such a flexible and efficient method of communication; it's what makes it such a powerful method to communicate your message. It's usually not too difficult to portray more than one message or over-explain a topic when you have so many tools at your disposal (spoken word, written word, live-action footage, illustrated visuals, music etc). Keeping it concise and directed towards one idea will help to increase your video's intended effect.

To summarize, have one clear message to communicate to your well-defined targeted audience and use the tools of video intentionally yet powerfully to grab your audience's attention.

Do the Marketing

Once all the work has been put into creating an effective video and it's ready to posted, there is more you can do to increase its chances of reaching your target audience online. One thing to consider is where you post the video. YouTube is probably the first platform that comes to mind, and rightly so. When posting on YouTube, there are some simple things to do that can help your video's success. These include using an effective thumbnail, description, and title. If you're wanting to achieve long-term success on a particular platform like YouTube, that in itself warrants its own time and effort.

You can also consider other posting platforms based on audience. For example, LinkedIn has recently created its own platform for posting videos that are self-contained on the site. LinkedIn will favour videos in terms of their visibility if they're self contained and posted there directly.

Additionally, there are other ways to promote your video online. Sometimes a video will work well with your email marketing strategy. If it makes sense to do so, it can also be placed on your website's landing page. You can also be linking to it from other platforms such as instagram and twitter. Paid ad campaigns can be very effective as well. The key is to get it in front of as many eyes as possible from your target audience.


Video production and video marketing go hand-in-hand. Plan your video in such a way that it's high quality in terms of its concept and messaging. After planning, further increase its online success by placing it in the right locations and advertising it. For more content related to marketing your videos, you can check out other posts in our blog.

Tim Clark
Filmmaker, BiteSite

Why Choose Video Over Any Other Medium?

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There are many ways to get your message out into the world and whether you're advertising a product, creating daily content, promoting an event etc., the question will always remain: what medium should you use? Sometimes it will be easy to determine. For instance, your subject matter might better suit a visual format such as instagram as opposed to a writing it out on a blog. Other times, the method of communication is more flexible, and you'll need to consider each available communication medium.

Every medium has its own benefits. Whether you're writing an informative blog, creating a beautiful image, or producing an engaging video, you'll be reaping the benefits that each one offers and reaching the unique audience that it attracts.

Video may not always be the most obvious choice, and you might only ever consider video at times when it is clearly the best platform to get your message across. In this blog post (ironically), we'll be talking about why you may want to consider video, and why.

Ease of Consumption

Video is often the most favoured form of communication because it is the 'easiest' to consume for the viewer. On the level of pure mental-effort, it can be much more enticing to simply have a message spoken to you without putting in the added effort of reading. You might also say that video is easier to consume simply because it is more available. Videos are shared more often than other forms of media and have the chance of 'going viral' as well. Whether you're using platforms like facebook, instagram or linkedin, video will be in your feed and around every corner. Even when only considering the availability of video mixed with the ease of its consumption, it can be seen as a highly effective method of communication.

Richer Content

Video takes the lead when it comes to the quality and richness of its content. This is in no small part because of the almost infinite creative applications of the video medium. You can literally create any visual or auditory idea that comes to mind. Using video elements such as music, images, motion graphics, text, and other special effects allow you to retain your viewers attention while also communicating your message clearly.

You're also able to add energy that engages the audience through the personality of on-screen subjects. It is much more engaging to watch another human standing in front of you (albeit through the screen) than to consume the same message any other way. As humans, we simply respond to other human beings 'more' than we do to text or images. As soon as you add in human subjects, your ability to convey tone and emotion improve significantly over other mediums. Not only does the quality of the message improve with vocal delivery, but you are also better equipped to establish relationships with your audience; you can gain trust and create a stronger sense of familiarity with your brand.

Best Suited

Sometimes video will be the most effective way to get your message across when what you are talking about is easier seen through video than read about. For example, you might want to show a demo of your software application so your audience can learn of its benefits or understand how to use it by seeing it in action. In other scenarios, you may want to build your brand and associate it with certain images or emotions; video can help here as well. Whatever the message, video is often a clear winner when determining which medium is best suited in getting your message across.


Video has some clear strengths and applications, and can often be used to deliver your message effectively. This is not to say that video will always make the most sense. Generally, video production is more time-consuming to create than other mediums. Posting a picture with a quick caption, writing an article, or creating a visual ad can sometimes achieve the same goal in less time. Video also tends to require more specialized skills and you'll need to be prepared to either hire a vendor or learn some of the craft yourself. It really comes down to the return on your investment. Video does take time but can be a very effective tool for your marketing strategy. Lastly, you can always take a look at the video posted along with this blog post and get a feel for how the message comes across based on each medium.

Tim Clark
Filmmaker, BiteSite