Pet Peeve Interview Backdrops

morgan stanleyOne of the great ways for business leaders to help guide their video producer on everything from storytelling to interview backdrops is to send them example videos of the things they like. We as producers don’t necessarily copy those videos (the good producers don’t anyway), but the videos do give us a sense of the style a client prefers.

A potential client recently sent me some video examples and I cringed when I saw them, but thankfully what he liked is the content idea and not necessarily the style in which they were shot.

It was a series of testimonial videos (example below) produced by Morgan Stanley. They feature financial advisers talking about the Morgan Stanley products they recommend to their clients. Our potential client is right… great content idea. What made me cringe were the interview backdrops used in the examples.

Superimposed interview backdrops

Granted… not everyone is going to react negatively to these. They’re simply artistic renderings that have been superimposed behind the interview subjects. Some of you might even be scratching your heads wondering what’s the big deal? Here’s why I can’t stand fake back drops like these.

  • they’re fake. Many of us go through all sorts of efforts to deliver authentic marketing videos. I would argue that as soon as you produce something that’s clearly staged, like a fake interview backdrop, you begin to undermine that effort.
  • they’re distracting. Your eye can’t help but be drawn to them because they’re unnatural. The look out-of-place.
  • both of the previous reasons take the audience right out of the video. We’re no longer captivated by the story. We’re simply focused on the backdrop. We recognize it’s fake. Our eyes are drawn to it and we begin to try to place it. Meanwhile, the interview subject is continuing to deliver content and we’re missing what they’re saying.

A better choice for interview backdrops

I simply prefer natural environments, and by that I mean anywhere the subject would naturally be found. A financial adviser would fit in an office, a conference room, etc. A factory worker should be in a manufacturing setting. You get the idea.

Interview backdrops shouldn’t be a distraction, so don’t make them one.

–Tony Gnau

 Tony Gnau is a three-time Emmy-winning journalist. He is also the founder and chief storytelling officer at T60 Productions. T60 has won 12 Telly Awards for its work over the last eight years.

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Rob Biesenbach
6 years ago

Agree Try doing something like that with a law firm! They are averse to anything that appears too slick, over-produced or artificial. A great producer/crew can make an attractive background out of almost anything.