Ok so first thing, apologies to ladies, I couldn’t make this pun work with the words ‘Camera people.’
I was watching Andy Marr’s interview with President Barack Obama and I couldn’t help looking at how beautifully it was shot (mostly). These are high pressure circumstances I’ve no idea how long they had to set up or rehearse but I do know that they had a fixed 18 mins to do the interview. When Marr’s earpiece went down during the interview he overran his alotted time and lost the promised opportunity to do a corridor walk and talk with Obama. This would have been a golden shot as a lead in for a voiceover but that’s secondary to the main event.
You’ve got one shot at this type of interview with a huge weight of expectation back at base so ZERO margins for screw ups! Below are 3 stills I’ve grabbed and what you can learn from them. There were 3 cameras for the interview, probably a fourth to shoot the Presidents’ arrival in the room for B-Roll (In this case footage to use over voiceover / cutaways to build to the scene).
This is the money shot, you simple can’t fluff this one as it will be on screen the longest. See how the background is thrown out of focus (long lens, wide aperture, distance from subject) so the focus is all on the face and the busy background doesn’t distract. The dedo rail is dealt with by positioning top of the shoulders, not cutting through the ears. The flags and painting all give a sense of the American people and history. Soft lighting on the face and a hint of backlight separates Obama from the background.
Andy Marr, the second most important shot. Same thing with the picture frame, it’s positioned so it doesn’t cut through his head or distract. Nice backlight separates him from the background. Notice the incidental lighting (the table light) is left on. Easy to forget this, It adds warmth (it’s tungsten balanced), makes the room feel real and adds depth to the shot. If it was switched off it would just look flat and odd.
Not to be picky but this is where it falls down a bit. It’s a nice wide shot which gives you a visual map of where they are sitting. Again the room lighting switched on gives depth. My main gripe is the messy cables, of course as mentioned at the top they were short of time and lucky to get the interview so may have not had a chance for a final, final tweak.
It’s always worth a detailed microscopic check of all the shots before you shoot, not just looking at your subjects but all the props and details around them.
When I watched the interview it became obvious the Director noticed the cables were in shot during the recording and started to get the Wide camera person to crop them out by zooming in. So the tip is if you notice something wrong don’t just let it go but adjust and take action.