OWAA Conference — How To Talk To The (Video) Camera

Craft improvement presentation by Lisa Densmore:

  • Universal rules:
    • Treat the video camera as a person.
    • Minimize hand movement — don’t point at the camera, if it’s obvious, you don’t need to point to the object shown in the video.
    • Slow down — speak decisively.
    • Eliminate the “um’s” and the “Uh’s” — silence is better.
    • Don’t refer to people by their first names only unless it is known (by your audience) you are personal friends.
    • Talk to an 8th grade level.
    • Use limited words over 3 syllables in length. (this increases the ease of comprehension)
    • Keep it short. (speak in sound bytes)
    • Enjoy the moment. (relax and do what you know how to do)
  • The show opening:
    • Look at the camera
    • Walk then talk—take a step or two before you begin to talk
    • Don’t read your eyelids—when you talk put it into conversational words (don’t sound scripted).
  • Tell the viewer what they are watching:
    • Welcome to [show name]
    • Your location
    • Your name
    • And what (the viewer) is going to learn.
  • Show opening with a co-host:
    • Know the camera movement (1 shot pull to a two shot or a 2 shot from the start)
    • Intro the show to the camera
    • Intro your co-shot or guest, then let him/her talk quickly after the viewer sees them.
    • Look at whomever is talking.
    • Give interesting information.
    • Glance back at the camera together periodically
    • Both should look at the camera for “throw.”
  • In the action — if docu-style, stay in the action. The viewer is “fly on the wall.”
  • If running monologue, engage the camera.
  • Common mistakes—looking at the camera during the action.  Be aware of where the camera is at all times.
  • Don’t block the camera or ever put your back to it.
  • Never upstage another on-camera person.
  • When talking to the camera, don’t look off-camera (indicating there is action the viewer is not seeing).
  • Don’t lose continuity by:
    • Clothing change
    • Gear change
    • Positioning of people, gear, etc.
    • Random word changes
  • It’s your job as the show host to avoid all these problems—not the cameraman.
  • Intro’s and outro’s — Welcome back = reset (show name, host name and the location again). The further you get into the show you can leave stuff out.
  • Look at your guest when talking to the guest…but you can turn to the camera when you go to a “throw” or “break.”
  • If using a stick mic, don’t cover the face.  Hold it low in front of the chin.
  • Ask the viewer what they want to know.
  • Make the guest look like a star—in the process, you will then look good.
  • Banter is better.
  • Always stay on topic.
  • Interviewing mistakes:
    • Interrupting (when guests take a breath take control back)
    • Looking away from your guest
    • Long questions
    • Excess body movement
    • Asking “yes or no” (close-ended) questions.
  • As the interviewee:
    • Look at the host, not the camera after you are introduced
    • Keep it short—just enough to get your point across
    • Reveal interesting information, keep anecdotes short.
  • In the studio: same rules of camera engagement.
  • Sit up and slightly forward, yet have a relaxed demeanor.
  • Eliminate hand movement.
  • If using the teleprompter, set the font size large enough (to avoid “reading eyes”)
  • On narration:
    • Pacing is important
    • Read slowly but with energy
    • Make it sound like spoken prose
    • Inflect the right tone
    • Be satisfied or re-do it.
  • What to wear: Blues, purples, greens are best.  Avoid bright neon (solid white or black)
  • Keep blaze orange at the legal minimum.
  • Beware of the brim on baseball style caps — creates a shadow.
  • In the close, thank the viewer for watching and invite them back next time.

 ©2010 Jim Braaten.   All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.