#251 Interviewing Techniques for Storytellers:
#2 Preproduction

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I wanted to start off by saying the Preproduction is the most important part of preparing to interview someone for a story. Then I wondered if you could skimp on this part. Little or no preparation? It still seems laughable, but I do think you could jump past it and throw together a recording session. But it would be a mess and in the end you would have recorded a mess. It’s important.

In this episode I refer to a story told by Tim Coyne on his podcast, The Hollywood Podcast. His site is currently offline , but you still download his show via iTunes

I’ve organized this episode according to these topics
1.    Topic
2.    How to find and manage the Subject of the interview
3.    Setup Interview
4.    Visit and secure locations
5.    Secure and test equipment
6.    Working with the talent and crew
7.    Considering the cost
8.    Tracking your liability
9.    Setting your schedule and meeting deadlines

During a rundown of recording equipment in this episode I indicated that a lavaliere mic is essential for getting a good interview. I should have qualified that by adding, “under specific circumstances, particularly if you’re working alone”.

Here is a hierarchy of microphone options when you are recording audio for interviews:

Boom
•    ideally handheld overhead
Wired Lav
•    ideally with the subject sitting
Wireless Lav
•    for times when the subject is moving or at a distance from the camera
External digital recorder like a Zoom or Tascam
•    for dual recording circumstances, like when using a DSLR
•    or you need a backup recording
•    Tascam DR-40 or Zoom H4n are good examples of these devices
Shotgun attached to the camera
•    when you have no other options
•    the limitation with this recording option is that the mic isn’t close to the speaker which allows a lot of room noise to seep into the audio
built-in microphone on your camera and or your iPhone, iPod and iPad.
•    better than nothing, but with the same limitation as the shotgun

This last option is desperate and while I know that you gotta do what you gotta do, seriously, get an external mic and put it as close as possible to the subject. There a number of relatively inexpensive microphones on the market, under $100 that will significantly elevate the quality of your recording. This may sound coldly snobbish, but the absence of audio is better than bad audio, hands down. Bad audio is a lead weight that pulls down associated video regardless of it’s quality or uniqueness. You should recognize this as a truth if you pursue video storytelling.

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