In the last article, I talked about how I prepare to record an episode of Technology and Friends. In this article, I'll discuss the interview itself.
Framing the scene
I nearly always work alone on this show, which means I don't have a cameraman. So it's up to me to properly frame the shot. I affix the camera to a tripod and ask my guest to sit or stand in front of the camera. Then I frame my guest in the digital viewfinder (an LED screen that shows an image of what the camera will capture when recording). On most television talk shows, the host sits on the right. However I prefer to sit on the left. The reason is that my digital viewfinder swivels, so I can see it even when the camera is facing me and the viewfinder is more visible to me if I sit on the left. My goal is to frame each shot so that it includes me and my guest or guests, but very little beyond that. The shot looks best if we are close together, almost touching.
Without an assistant, I am forced to start recording, then walk into the camera view and check the frame. Sometimes I need to walk back behind the camera to adjust the framing. Of course, I cut out all this walking in and out during post-production.
The Interview itself is generally the most enjoyable part of the show.
In my show, I want the guest to do most of the talking, so I ask a lot of open-ended questions. Rather than: Is this technology easy to use, I'll ask "What are the advantages of this technology"? Ideally, I'll ask a 15-second question and the guest will talk for 3 minutes. I try not to interrupt him* unless I feel they need to clarify something. If they introduce an unfamiliar term or acronym, I'll ask them to define it.
I will ask follow-up questions, based on what the guest says on camera.
Sometimes, he mentions something that sparks my interest and I'll ask for more detail.
Sometimes, I'll feel his explanation is too vague and I'll ask for clarification or an example.
Sometimes, he'll make an unsupported assertion and I'll ask him to defend that assertion.
Sometimes, I'll volunteer a relevant story from my own experience.
After a long explanation by the guest, I'll often try to summarize what they said and ask if I have understood it correctly.
Generally, I want the guest to sound relaxed and I want the tone to be conversational. As much as possible, I try to set him at ease. If either of us makes a mistake, I say “Edit Point” and let him know we can cut out that part later.
Sometimes, we may elect to re-record an entire sequence if someone misspoke or was unclear.
Although the show doesn't have a set length, I try to keep the interview less than 30 minutes because I want it to be concise. If I feel it may go longer, I will usually edit it for length or split it into two shows.
At the end of each interview, I give my guest a chance to promote himself by mentioning a blog or other online presence.
I wrap up the show by thanking the viewer and saying goodbye to the audience. Of course, I also ask each guest to speak a sentence using the words "Technology" and "Friends" as this has become a trademark of the show.
* For simplicity, I will use the masculine pronoun when describing a generic guest. I have had many female guests and plan to have more in the future.