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Producing a Video Interview

By: Mich Donovan

Recently, I had the opportunity to make a short profile video about a robotics graduate student here at Duke, Victoria Nneji. The goal of the video was to compel middle school students to start thinking about college and their future by sharing Victoria’s story.

This production was also a good opportunity for me to work with our new DSLR camera. The filming process was a big change of pace compared to producing scripted lectures in the green screen studio. Here’s a couple thoughts and takeaways on how the production went:

While the DSLR had a much better depth-of-field and clarity to the image, I didn’t truly appreciate the limitations of working with it until the day of the shoot. Since the camera has no zoom capability, there’s much less flexibility in where you can best place the camera and frame your shot. This was doubly difficult in a scenario where I was also running a secondary camera to capture a wide, two-person shot. Most of the set-up time for the shoot was spent trying to find the right placement for both cameras and the two subjects. Luckily, the in-room overhead lighting worked great, otherwise I’d still be trying to set up the shoot.

Additionally, I neglected to consider that this camera will overheat after about 30 minutes and to try to plan the shoot around that consideration. While we completed the interview without much trouble, I wasn’t able to get as much b-roll with the camera after the interview as I would’ve liked.

In lieu of more extensive on-site b-roll, I was extremely lucky to find some relevant footage as part of Duke’s public video folder which will remain a permanent bookmark for future video projects. The YouTube Audio Library, as always, was a good resource as well for some introductory music.

Were I to do anything differently, I’d try to add a third camera to the setup and feature more of Emerson, the interviewer. For a video aimed at middle-schoolers, I think it would be good to feature her more prominently. I’d also try to get more footage of the robots in action.

Many thanks to Victoria for sharing her story and to David Stein for coordinating the project.

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