Side-By-Side A Videography Challenge

side-by-side interview

Side-by-side can work when the people have a good rapport.

Yesterday, I was making a case against narrated videos. Today, it’s a videography challenge… the side-by-side interview.

Don’t like them… never have. Yesterday’s objection was rooted in sound beliefs regarding how people watch videos. This one is more style-based, but I have my reasons.

First, unless you’re in a big room or outside, you have to frame-up the shot so wide you get very little depth-of-field. Aesthetically speaker… not the best looking shot.

Second, in most cases what you end-up with is one person talking and another person simply staring at them the whole time. As a viewer, you don’t know where to look. You want to look at the person speaking, but there’s that other person over there. You feel like you have to keep an eye on them too because they might say something at any moment.

Third, and this one is specifically for those of use producing corporate videos, what if one of those people leaves the business? I can’t tell you how many times clients have called us because Sue or Ted just left the company and now they want to pull them out of the company video. If they’re alone on camera for their interview, this is pretty easy. Not so much if they’re sharing the screen with someone else who talks.

creative side-by-side

Courtesy: Chris Hansen, KUSA

How to make it work

The great thing about videography is it’s an art. There are plenty of ways to frame two people on camera for an interview shot, but that’s all dependent on each individual’s skill level. The client’s tolerance for creativity also plays a factor here. If they’re buttoned-up, a creatively-framed shot could freak them out.

When it’s okay

Of course, there’s an exception to every rule. Sometimes the two-person interview works great. If you have two people on-camera at the same time who have a great rapport, it can work well. Think Vince Vahaun and Owen Wilson.

The side-by-side interview is the type of thing when it goes right, it goes right. On the other hand, when it goes bad…

–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 11 Telly Awards for its work over the last eight years.