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Editing Interviews

Before you shoot your interview you must know how it will be edited. For example, if there are going to be lots of other shots inserted you may want to hold a static shot throughout the IV so that these shots can easily be added anywhere. On the other hand, if there is to be little or no editing you may want to vary your shots to maintain interest.

Despite the many different styles of interview, most have a fairly common basic structure. The following example outlines a typical approach:

Establishing Shot A very wide shot which shows the location. Not always necessary.
2-Shot A visual introduction to both interview participants (interviewer and guest). Usually a wide shot or MCU.
1-Shot Begin concentrating on the guest with an MCU and overlay name/title key.
Questions & Noddies While most of the interview concentrates on the guest, the interviewer is occasionally shown asking and responding to questions.
Cutaways When appropriate, relevant cutaways can be dropped in.

Cutting Between Interviewer and Guest

The most common edit is the cut between shots of interviewer and guest, whether it be live cuts between cameras or post-production edits.

The natural instinct is to cut exactly between the end of a question and the beginning of the answer. However this tends to look stilted. Try cutting a little before or after the question/answer is complete.

In live multi-camera situations it's easy to get caught behind the action, cutting to the wrong person at the wrong time. This can happen, for example, when you expect one person to speak but another person does. Do not "chase" the person speaking - it's better to have a shot of someone else listening for a few seconds than to cut quickly to the speaker and draw attention to your mistake. If you have the luxury of a wide shot, this can often get you out of trouble.

Back-Cut Questions

If you are using one camera and the IV is to be edited in post-production, the usual routine is to concentrate your framing on the guest during the interview. Then when the interview has finished you reposition the camera to face the interviewer and shoot them asking the questions again. The interviewer is in exactly the same position as they were during the IV, facing the empty space where the guest was (which is of course out of shot). These shots are then inserted into the interview over the original questions. The result is an interview which looks like it was shot with two cameras.

Obviously it's important to record the back-cut questions exactly the same as they were asked during the actual IV. You will usually have a pre-prepared list of questions to help you, but you should also make notes during the IV of any new questions.

Make sure your positioning and eyelines are consistent, as well as microphone placement.


"Noddy" is the term given to a shot of the interviewer reacting to the guest. The interviewer may be nodding, smiling, frowning, looking concerned, etc.

Noddies perform two functions.

Noddies are shot in the same way as the back-cut questions. The interviewer faces the same direction and provides a series of nods, smiles and any other expressions relevant to the interview. This is difficult for inexperienced presenters and will cause much hilarity for anyone watching who has never seen it done before.
Note: If you are tempted to laugh and make jokes at your first professional shoot - don't! Experienced presenters have heard all the noddy jokes a million times and it just shows how new you are.

In the edit suite, whenever you need to remove a segment of the guest's speech you simply inset a noddy to cover the edit. Obviously the noddy must be appropriate - you don't want a shot of the interviewer smiling as the guest relates a tragic incident. This is why you must make sure you shoot the whole range of expressions - so you'll always have the right one for the edit.

Note: For better or worse, noddies can give emotional cues to the viewer. For example, if a guest is reciting some facts and figures, a shot of the interviewer looking shocked suggests to the audience that these figures warrant a strong reaction.

Some More Rules:

When shooting for post-production create clean lead-in and lead-out space, and include information about the IV content.

Keep an eye on looking room and direction. When gathering and editing lots of different shots you must be constantly ensuring that everyone is facing the right way. For example, if you shoot your back-cut questions the wrong way the interviewer and guest will appear to be facing opposite directions.

Cutaways and noddies will save your edit. You can't have too many of them.

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