TELL AN AUTHENTIC STORY
We have a unique story to share with the world, and video is a powerful tool to tell it.
We use video to tell authentic and meaningful stories about our company, customers, products, and open source, usually through documentary pieces. Our job is to distill the complex world of technology into something that is both interesting and easy to understand.
Interviews should be relaxed, comfortable, and easy to understand.
Subjects should wear their normal clothes or everyday work attire. Avoid busy patterns, bright red, beige, or tan since they don’t show up well on camera. The filming crew should bring light powder or blotting papers to eliminate shine on the subject’s face.
We always interview real people, never actors, and capture their own words and experiences. Be prepared to direct the conversation with an interview guide, but don’t use a script or teleprompter. Opening up with light conversation before the interview will help put the subject at ease.
Pause before and after each question to allow flexibility during editing. The subject should include the question in their answer. For example, if the question is, “What color is the sky?” the answer should be, “The sky is blue”, not “Blue”).
LOCATION SET UP
Choosing the right location for interviews creates an interesting background for your shot. Look for a quiet environment that has visual interest, provides context for the topic of the video, and represents the person being interviewed. Although, the scene shouldn’t be too cluttered because this will draw the viewer’s attention away from the subject. If they work in a restaurant, film them there. Limit the use of shots that include cubicles or desks because it doesn’t communicate an interesting backdrop.
Most of the time, the subject should sit. Make sure their chair does not swivel. Standing is appropriate if the subject is comfortable and it makes sense in the environment. The interview should be natural, but also professional.
Make sure your location provides enough space to create depth in your shot. We usually allow 3–5 feet between the background and the interviewee.
Intimate shots work well for telling personal, emotional stories. Place the camera close to the subject and use a longer lens so you can catch every emotion. This also separates the subject from the background, so the focus is on the story being told.
The subject should be looking at the interviewer, who should be positioned slightly to the left or right of the camera, and should not be seen in frame. Their audio should not be included in the final piece. The interviewee should speak to and look at the off-screen interviewer, not the camera. Never break the 180-degree rule. If the subject is a presentation of some kind to the audience, this is the only time that they should look directly into the camera.
Multiple-subject shoots are very rare, but occasionally appropriate. When interviewing two people together, we strive for a conversational feel. That conversation can take place between the two participants and an interviewer, or between the participants. Most often, our multiple-subject videos are a combination of the two. We want our subjects to appear comfortable on camera, so try to place them close enough to one another that they can both fit in a wide shot, but not so close that it feels unnatural.
CAMERA SET UP AND SETTINGS
Use two cameras, one for a wide shot and one for a medium or tight shot, with the subject justified to the left or right (never centered). A third camera can be added when you need to use a slider or dolly, if you want to capture a super-wide shot, or for multiple-subject interviews.
Use a slider to create motion and emphasize important story points. Cutting to a slider pushing in can bring the interviewee closer when they are making a critical or emotional statement. Taking up more of the frame gives their statement more significance.
Third camera and slider shots are appropriate for customer success stories, Open Source Stories, or an interview with two people.
The graphics and transitions used in customer success stories change based on the customer’s brand. For Atos, we shot with blue accent colors to match their corporate color scheme. The subjects were lit more warmly than usual so we could cool off the background and make all the interview shots feel the same.
Use lights to control the environment and enhance the story. Unless you’re shooting “person-on-the-street” interviews, don’t rely on available light.
Use at least one key light when shooting an interview, and ideally use a 3-point lighting scheme to achieve a ¾ light or “Rembrandt” look. This gives more shape to the subject. This effect requires less fill light (or sometimes none at all, if the key light is wrapped around the face appropriately). Avoid distracting or harsh shadows, highlights, and reflections. If the subject is wearing glasses, be aware of highlights and reflections on the lenses.
Using set lights or otherwise lighting the background is recommending for creating deep, interesting visual space around the interviewee.
B-roll provides visual interest to the final pieces, and helps to cover any cuts in the interview. While on site, capture the exterior of the office, signs, logos, datacenters and workstations, and action shots of the subject(s) working or interacting with coworkers.
Editing video is like conducting a symphony. A well-edited video has a rhythm that pulls the viewer through the story and keeps them interested until the very end.
Editing is especially important for the documentary pieces we create. Editing is where all the individual interviews and pieces of footage come together into one compelling story.
Shots can be slowed down, reframed, or stabilized if it helps fit the rhythm of the video. If there is camera movement, make sure the cuts fit the movement of the shot. Don’t cut back and forth between shots unless it fits both the rhythm and the story. Be careful not to distract the audience by cutting back and forth between shots that push in and push out.
Ask yourself three questions when making a cut:
Does it fit the rhythm and music?
Does it advance the story?
Does it have the right emotion?
All videos should use lower thirds to identify the subject.
The only exception is on-site event videos, due to timing and the nature of the video.
DOCUMENTING LIFE AT RED HAT: THE SHOW
When we make videos for ourselves, we can have a little more fun.
The truth is still important, but more liberties can be taken with form. Videos by Red Hatters for Red Hatters can be more entertaining, playful, or even satirical.
The best ones are created for the enjoyment of others, but still say something interesting or important.
The best example of this internal style is The Show, a quarterly video production that brings associates from around the world together to learn more about our company and the people who make Red Hat great.
Use crossfades. Use hard cuts instead.
Use extreme side angles.
Always keep both eyes visible.