We occasionally create videos for our eLearning courses created by our Custom team. We also create videos that can be found on our Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin pages. Many times these videos are nothing more than talking heads.
A talking head shot can be extremely useful, and has become standard for welcome videos, introductory videos, and others. However their simplicity doesn’t make them easy. Previously I’ve talked about how to shoot these videos in a way that can decrease distracting background noise when you’re in a pinch. Today I’ll be writing about the equipment that I use when shooting a talking head.
For our in-house videos we use a Canon 5D Mrk II. It’s an older model but still puts out a quality picture. It is important to know that if you are shooting with DSLRs like this one you shouldn’t plan on any shot taking more than ten minutes. DSLRs do not allow you to record continuously for long periods of time.
We have two lenses that we use, though one of them is used much more often than the other and that is our Canon Ultrasonic 70-200mm. The reason we use this one is to get a more shallow depth of field, and to give our subject a little more space or breathing room. It is also an older lens, but it definitely gets the job done.
Both of these are put together and then mounted on a tripod. We block out the room for good lighting and to make sure the shot will look good.
We’ve done audio in several ways, but I’ll be sharing my favorite setup. We use lavalier mics that connect to the subject’s shirt or jacket, and run down to a wireless pack. That pack broadcasts to a receiver that then plugs into a Zoom H4n which records all of the audio. I plug my headphones into the Zoom to monitor the sound that is coming through.
Some things to note with this setup: Every single step requires batteries. The lav wireless pack takes two double As, the receiver takes two triple As, and the Zoom H4n takes two double As. That is a lot of batteries that can potentially crash on you. In one shoot I have had all three of these die on me, even when starting with new batteries at the beginning. They should last about four hours or more for each device but that’s no promise, especially with all the different brands and qualities of batteries out there these days.
Make Them Work Together
When recording audio and video separately it’s good to start each take with a loud clap. This way you can line up the spikes in the audio of both devices to sync the audio and the video.
This technique is used in Hollywood with a slate, but a simple clap of your hands works great.
This is generally all of the equipment we need for a good talking head video. I personally like to use as much natural light as possible in any shoot, with bounce boards helping to even out the light.
I do want to point out that while this is the equipment we use, you by no means need to have the same equipment. I wouldn’t dare say this is the best equipment or even the best set up, but it is one that works for us. Do you have a setup that is different? What are your thoughts?
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