Television is the most powerful and demanding form of media. It’s also the most time consuming to produce.
You can help the crew get the best footage by having good visuals ready and briefing your ‘talent’ (the interviewee) on what constitutes a good quote.
If you have the equipment and skill, you can also make your own recordings for radio and the internet.
- Before the TV crew arrives, have some suggestions for background shots ready. The camera crew wants good vision, so help where you can.
- To bring the story to life, use interesting props – scientific equipment, protective clothing, an unusual vehicle, an apparatus that makes interesting noises or movements, baby animals – anything relevant that makes for good vision. Small or short demonstrations also work well.
- Be prepared for the cameraperson to collect 30–60 minutes worth of ‘vision’ for an average TV news story of 60–90 seconds. The story may have up to 30 different shots in it, and these take time to gather.
- Brief your talent before the reporter interviews them. Once the reporter has the main idea of the story from the visuals, they need 1 or 2 quotes (also known as ‘grabs’, each lasting around 3–12 seconds) from the talent.
- Coach your talent about giving grabs. The best grabs paint pictures by using analogies, metaphors, descriptions and examples.
- Don’t be overly ambitious – studies show that a TV audience will judge talent primarily according to how they look and act; secondly, according to how they speak; and, coming in a poor third, according to what they say.
If you have the equipment and skill you can make your own recordings of voice and video for use on radio and the internet.
- If two of you are working together, check that each other’s equipment is actually recording. There’s nothing worse than discovering that your recorder is still on standby 15 minutes into the interview.
- Don’t be shy about asking the talent to repeat some information for the recorder. A person can say some of their best stuff while you are still establishing rapport with them, before you’ve even set up your gear. You don’t want to leave regretting that you missed some great quotes.
- To evoke better answers, pose questions such as: ‘Tell me about…’, ‘Explain that to me’ or ‘Why is that important?’. If the response is peppered with pronouns (e.g. it, they, he), you will need to add context later explaining what the pronoun refers to.
- For video, ask the talent to remove their sunglasses. You’ll see their face and expressions much better, and you’ll avoid picking up distracting reflections in the lenses of the sunglasses.