Video is a multi-layered medium. It is brilliant at conveying messaging between the lines and can pull at your emotions without
!@MaxTV5you even being aware. A master craftsman knows how to play to those emotions setting up a scene on-camera. For the rest of us, we want to be careful, not to convey unintentional information.

Here a few on-camera performance tips to keep you on-message and for the most part “unintended-sub-context” free.

  1. Look into the camera, or just off camera at an interviewer, but do not (ever) shift your eye line between the lens and an off camera person, or cheat sheet or prompter. If there is one advice only, this would be the most important one get right in order to look trustworthy. Eyes on ONE thing, period.
  2. Have the camera’s lens at eye-level.
  3. Pay attention to wardrobe: simple does it. Solid colors, not too much contrast: no black shirt on a very fair skinned person or vice versa.
  4. Make sure hair is well combed and not too ‘wild’ and the skin is not ‘shiny’, or sweaty looking.  Powder (translucent HD powder is best), is a must on HD (high definition) video and that goes for the guys as well.
  5. I have a personal preference for interviewing, or delivering lines while standing. People tend to focus better on their delivery, have better posture and wardrobe looks better too, as there is no bunching from sitting.
  6. The background should be either neutral or non-distracting, and always content appropriate.
  7. Have on-camera talent’s personality come through – if you are a hand-talker, talk with your hands. It makes you look natural and more at ease.
  8. If you’re the interviewer: ask the ‘real’ questions late in the interview.
  9. In preparation, give your interviewee question topics, or stand-in questions, but not the actual question you will ask in the interview. Rehearsed answers will look and sound rehearsed. You want spontaneity (or, to no use the overused word: you want authenticity).
  10. When you’re done with your delivery resist the “get me out of here” look, or looking at someone for feedback.  Come hell or high water: keep looking at the lens (or where ever you looked) with a smile for a few seconds.  We tend to immediately look away,  but  most times that ruins a good delivery, because we need a few seconds to create a ‘happy ending’ in editing.

Happy Shooting!

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  1. Thank you for the great tips! I am working on putting together a Kickstarter video and have never been in front of a camera. Any tips on how to hook people on a Kickstarter video? I know the first 10secs are crucial.

  2. CarolHager I did a crowdfunder pitch video and the savvy people were saying A) no more than 2 mins. (this was in 2013) B) to google ‘best kickstarter pitch videos’ to get some ideas and C) as you probably already know, the pitch video is the most important part of the campaign…   Good luck to you!

  3. Hi Carol: thanks for your comment. I’m not a Kickstarter expert by any means, but I would look at the most successful campaigns and see what they did and copy shamelessly.

    Other than that, I would lead with your thorn and the reason why this is important to you and why you are into VR.People love to help and feel good – give them that feeling and a few very cool give-aways.

    Good luck!

  4. laurienicoletti, excellent question and one I’m not the expert on.  

    From a producers stand point I’d say: chat with your interviewee a bit and get them comfortable in front of the camera, before you go for the “meat: see point #8 above.  

    I always tell people that I’m in the business of making them look good and that video is patient and they can start over as often as they need to.  If someone is very nervous I take it a paragraph at a time if it’s scripted, or just ask fluff questions if it’s an interview.

    As for prep: have one LESS coffee if you have the jitters and let the crew know you’re nervous, acknowledgment is half the battle.  More than not there’s a “joker” on the crew who will get you laughing before you know it. 

    And lastly: prepare, prepare, prepare.

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