How to Easily Record a Remote Video Interview

I’ve been interviewing customers recently on how digital technologies have helped their organizations be resilient in the current environment.

Here’s a short recap of what I’ve so far found works best for non-professionals like myself who still want to be able to put together a polished, edited result.

  • Arrange a Zoom call. There are alternatives, but Zoom seems to have the best quality, for now. It’s banned by some organizations, but most people have access to a home computer they can use it on.
  • In the recording options, choose to have keep separate audio files for each participant. This isn’t strictly necessary, but can make editing easier.
  • Make sure they have HD turned on: at the bottom of the zoom screen, next to the second icon from the left (a camera) is a little arrow. Click it, check that the right microphone and camera are chosen, then go to the last entry: video settings. Choose the option “enable HD”. This will increase the recording resolution from 360p to 720p. (Optionally: if you have a group Zoom account, and the interviewee is using high-resolution cameras, see if you can get 1080p turned on).
  • Optimizing the look of the video and the quality of the audio is a separate discussion — see my various other articles, including this one.
  • Start recording in gallery mode (two screens side-by-side) — this seems to be the key to getting a 720p file rather than 360p.
  • Then “pin” the other person’s video (right-mouse click on their video stream). This will give you a 720p video recording of just their video for the whole interview (but pretty compressed).
  • In addition, I’ve been asking interviewees to make a local recording – QuickTime Player on Mac, or Windows Camera, then giving them somewhere to upload it (if you have access to OneDrive: create a new folder, share it with “enable editing” turned on, and put in their email address to share the folder link). Since most of the people I talk to are technical, this hasn’t been too difficult for them. This file is (probably) still 720p (unless they’re using a better webcam), but NOT compressed (but that means big files and the upload time can be very long, depending on their internet connection)
  • You have to record your video locally, using the same techniques above (or Camtesia etc.) OR invite another person to the same Zoom call and enable them to record, and get them to pin/record your video (again, start in gallery mode).
  • Then you bring the videos together as you wish in editing software – I use Adobe Premiere, but there are cheaper alternatives. This part is easy to outsource to experts if necessary—but they won’t have domain knowledge skills, so make sure you give clear directions on what to keep or cut (see next bullet point for an easy way to do that).
  • Recently, I’ve been uploading the Zoom video to trint.com. It’s not cheap, and the automatic transcription isn’t amazing, but it makes it easy to edit the text as you listen to the file, and then you can highlight the bits you want, and it creates an edit file that can then be loaded into Premiere – i.e. based on the text you’ve selected, it gives you a series of clips to start editing from.
  • The key editing task, apart from choosing what to keep, is to hide your edits— otherwise the speaker’s head suddenly and disconcertingly jerks from one position to another. There are three basic choices: (1) you cut back to the other speaker for a couple of seconds, showing them listening and nodding (you can use footage from another part of the interview if necessary!), (2) you switch to a side-by-side view of both speakers, (3) you overlay “b-roll” video – e.g. corporate video footage or stills. Most companies have these available, but you have to be careful about making sure you have written permission to use it.
  • Occasionally, people say things that I think are may be commercially sensitive. If I can take that out without making the video less interesting, I’ll do so, but otherwise, it’s good to double-check that they’re not going to get into trouble.
  • Make sure you have a written release form from the participant (I tend to do this at the end of the process, just before publishing, so that they are fully bought-in to the final version — but there’s a danger of delays, if people are on holiday, or if there needs to be a corporate-level signoff, etc.)
  • Optionally, but highly recommended: add full captions to the video (the trint file can export this more or less automatically, too)
  • Optionally: tidy up the script and use it as a Q&A blog post

Finally: In general, less is more — be a bit ruthless on cutting things out (but keep them in the blog post). And what counts is whether the whole thing is actually interesting, not the production values.

Any questions?

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