Do-It-Yourself Interview or Presentation Recording

With equipment you probably already have

In these days of COVID-19 social distancing, the need to record interviews remotely became great. Here is the best way we found of doing it, using only what you probably already have on-hand.

Use the same setup for presentations, but instead of a Zoom call on the laptop, put up your notes or PowerPoint presentation to guide you. Just make sure you’re not too close to the camera (use a mouse to advance slides), we can always zoom in a bit during editing.

Video Instructions Button

Simple method for recording great interviews locally while being directed remotely
6½ minutes

1. Pick a spot where you’ll be lit by soft window light. Face into the light. Pay attention to the background. Don’t have a big, bright window behind you.

2. The key to good sound is to get the microphone as close to your mouth as possible. Use your wired earbuds that have a microphone (or buy a real lavaliere mike such as the one at Amazon for $40). The best place for a mike is right above your sternum. Wearing something with buttons makes mike placement easier. Tape the mike inside the garment, especially if you do it around a button. Don’t bury the mike under layers of cloth. Use soft tape which doesn’t crinkle like many of the clear tapes do. And stay away from jingly pendants or other noisy jewelry, including bracelets that can bang against a table.

3. Take a big rubber band and put it around your laptop’s screen. Then take two paper clips and bend them out 90°. Use plastic-covered paper clips and put them behind the rubber band onto the laptop screen.
Put the smartphone on top of the paper clips and hold the phone in place with another rubber band.

4. Put the laptop on top of a box or stack of books so the phone’s camera is at the level of your eyes. Plug in your microphone cable.

5. Fire up the video conferencing software of your choice.  Expand it to full-screen and position the phone so that the phone’s camera covers a part of your interviewer’s face. This will make for the best eye contact.

6. When everyone’s ready, start the phone’s camera and switch it to Video. Then hit RECORD and record your interview or presentation. For long recordings, stop and re-start your phone camera every fifteen minutes or so to keep the file size manageable.

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FILE TRANSFER:

Video files are huge. So you can’t just email them. My favorite way to send files smaller than 2GB for free is with WeTransfer. Here’s how:

1. Go to WeTransfer.com, accept or deny their cookies, click “Send a File” and accept their Terms of Service.

2. Click the big + sign to add your files.

3. Find the file or files you want to send; it’s probably in your Photo Library. Once you choose them, click Done to return to WeTransfer.

4. Click Next, accept the default “Send an Email” and click Next again.

5. Put in the requested email addresses and click Transfer.

6. WeTransfer will verify your email address by sending you a number code. Just follow their instructions and then your transfer is on its way.

Tips for shooting “B-Roll” with a smartphone
43 seconds

If you shoot outside, I have several requests. The biggest one is please hold the camera horizontally, in the landscape mode. Otherwise we end up with a small picture and big black bars on the side, and that’s not ideal.

If you want to narrate what you’re showing us, wear a wired microphone, it will make the sound much better.

And of course hold the camera as steady as you can. I would also encourage you to shoot in the late afternoon or first thing in the morning. The low sun makes the pictures much more interesting.

Happy shooting!