Technical communications for transportation professionals

Video recording checklist

This web page summarizes the guidance presented at the July 2022 AASHTO Research Advisory Committee meeting in a session titled Nobody Became a Researcher to Go on Camera.

For video research briefs and prerecorded conference presentations, it once was common — even expected — to capture an interview subject’s comments with the aid of an in-person interviewer and camera operator. Since covid, however, there has been a shift to recording video interviews with the use of webinar tools.

While recording a “talking head” on Zoom, Teams or a similar web meeting app may seem as simple as pressing a button, there are number of factors that should be taken into consideration. Together, these can add up to successful and usable interview footage for whatever purpose is intended.

The video recording checklist below is broken into three broad areas: technology, setting and interview. Guidance is targeted specifically to the interviewers (this includes anyone responsible for capturing the footage) and to interview subjects.

This guidance is largely built around producing video briefs, but most points are applicable to a recorded presentation for any purpose.

Technology


 

Web Recording Program

Interviewers

  • Select a program that records audio and video to the cloud; Zoom and Teams are two options that work well.
  • Set up your program to record to the cloud and at the highest resolution possible.
  • Practice recording with this program and make sure you understand the basic settings and how to find and download recordings.

Subjects

  • Practice recording with the selected program and make sure you understand the basic settings. Ask for a test run with the interviewer if needed.

Camera

Subjects

  • Set your laptop or computer on a steady surface.
  • Check connectivity, run an Internet speed test, and close unnecessary applications.
  • Position yourself at camera eye level (avoid angles where the camera lens is looking up or down on you at an extreme angle); center yourself horizontally and vertically.
  • Choose a non-distracting background (avoid windows, showing other people, posters/signs that can be read, lots of objects or clutter in the background).
  • Avoid using a virtual background. This can leave fuzzy edges around your head, and some portions of your head or body may disappear into the background.

Microphone

Interviewers

  • Consider the tradeoff between a laptop mic (which is more likely to pick up ambient noise) and a headset mic (which will be visible on camera) and advise any preferences to your subject.

Subjects

  • Bluetooth headsets are typically less reliable than wired ones.
  • A headset mic is best positioned about a finger width away from the side of your mouth.

Setting


 

Location and Surroundings

Subjects

  • Find a location that is well-lit with natural sunlight or plenty of indoor lighting.
  • Position yourself so windows or your main light sources are facing you, not behind you.
  • Choose a quiet location to limit background noise.
  • Avoid spaces with lots of echo (typically associated with blank wall space).
  • Turn off air conditioners and heaters to avoid fan noise.
  • Provide a seat for yourself that is stationary and quiet.
  • Have water handy for clearing your throat

Clothing

Subjects, be sure to avoid:

  • Colors that blend in with your background
  • Patterns (stripes, plaids, polka dots)
  • Shiny fabrics or jewelry
  • Visible labels, logos, text, images
  • Noisy accessories that could interfere with your audio

Interview


 

Interviewers

  • Mute your audio stream when not asking a question.
  • “Ums,” “ers” and false starts are a part of natural talking, but if you hear a speech error that will mean unusable footage — or if the audio glitches during a subject’s answer — consider asking the interview subject to give the response again.
  • If a subject is particularly nervous or stiff, try asking them a few questions about the subject outside of the official interview to loosen them up. It’s OK to go through all your questions twice.

Subjects

  • Locate the camera on your computer and make “eye-contact” with the camera throughout the interview.
  • When answering questions, do your best to respond in complete sentences. For example, if asked “Why was this research important?” rephrase the question so that it becomes, “This research was important because…” This allows the interviewer to be omitted from the final video product.
  • Mute your phone and turn off any other audible notifications
  • Be prepared, but try not to memorize your responses to provided questions.
  • Avoid phrases like “As I said before…” since responses may be edited together in a different order than you provide them.
  • Speak like you’re talking to a colleague or interested friend.