recording audio and video interviews from home

Watch a video recording of the IRE/RTDNA webinar on audio and video reporting from home, featuring Megan Cloherty, Eric Flack, Cindy Galli, Danielle Leigh and Lee Zurik, here.

Recording video interviews: 

  • Zoom Lets you record the screen. Tip from an attendee: “If you have another person (a producer in my case) run the Zoom meeting, and they enable you to record along with them recording, you can record a “two-shot” on one computer and a single shot on the other computer, of the interviewee. Add an iPhone or GoPro for a third ‘cutaway’ shot and now you have three camera shoot for easier editing.”
  • Facebook:  Lets you record the screen. (free)
  • OBS Studio: Live streaming and video recording, available for Mac, PC, Linux (free)
  • AZ screen recorder: Record your screen on an android device. Here’s a how-to article. (free with in-app purchases.
  • Camtasia: Video editing +screen capture software (free 30-day trial, $249)
  • MacBook Pro: Has great quality recording with QuickTime. We found a pro for  $1299 on B&H.  Another tip: Check for refurbished ones for less money)
  • Microsoft Surface with Windows 10 also has built-in recording software. Here’s a blog on how to use it. (Price varies depending on the model. On 3/30/2020 we found one on sale for $599 on BestBuy, but that price may not last long)
  • Skype: Most of our panelists are not using Skype due to technical glitches. 
  • FaceTime: Here’s an article on how to record a FaceTime interview on a Mac. It also goes over how to record on your phone, but our panelists note that audio can be an issue. 

Recording Audio:

Data visualization:

  • Datawrapper: quick and easy charts (freemium)
  • Flourish: easy to use, paste data into templates for maps, line charts, bar charts, animations, etc. (free for newsrooms)
  • Tableau Public: highly customizable, interactive maps and charts, has a learning curve (free) 
  • Snagit: Screen-capture software. You can make Gifs and graphics. (free trial, $50)
  • Wordswag: Easy way to make a graphic quickly, turn it into a jpeg and put in your story. 
  • Quik: Free video editor for clips, photos, music
  • Tip from Danielle: For a quick animation, use Instagram story to draw something, while recording on your phone screen. 

Other equipment

  • Green screen (Prices vary. Try Amazon, B&H, Google shopping, etc.)
  • If you can’t find a green screen, try a green bed sheet. (But make sure there are no wrinkles in it, or it will affect the end product.)
  • If you don’t have a light kit, try taping lights to brooms or ladders, or if you have a natural light makeup mirror you can use it, but be sure to set it  fairly close to you.)
  • Ring light ($149). Here’s another for $120. See the link for recommended accessories, and shop around for the best deal. One webinar attendee found this one on Amazon for $43.

Megan Cloherty’s tips on how to walk others through recording audio 

  • Say “open voice memos” to Siri or for Android search Google toolbar
  • They can also pull down on the main screen of their phone and a search bar will appear to type in the app name.
  • Put the phone in airplane mode, because if they get a call while recording that call will cause the recording to stop.
  • Hold the mic up about 6 inches away, like they’ve seen reporters use a stick mic. 
  • Keep an eye on the time. (Audio recordings over 5 minutes long will be difficult to send.)
  • Press the red button, then “done” on Apple. Press the square to stop on Android.
  • Recordings are usually auto-saved.
  • Ask them to share by email, not by text. (Email gives you an mp4. If they text it, the file type changes and you’ll have to convert it.) 

Tips from our attendees and panelists

  • Using a hardwire rather than wireless internet will improve quality.
  • When shopping for deals on equipment, check
  • Check the Facebook group mojofest for more product tips.
  • A voice recorder with a telephone pick-up mic is a good way to record the audio from phone calls. 
  • Recommended by a webinar attendee:  Phone Tripod for $23.
  • Another attendee says this is a great iPhone hack from a CBC mobile reporter.
  • Find local people speaking out on Twitter and Facebook. If they’re speaking out, they will likely be willing to do an interview.
  • Don’t forget to check Linked-in for associations and groups that can speak for people who might be afraid to speak out. Union leaders are great for this issue as well.
  • If you run into technical difficulties, try stopping the interview, shutting down your computer and starting it back up. 
  • Remind the interviewee when giving audio and/or video tips that you want them to look as good as possible. They’ll appreciate it.

A review of the TV basics from John Daly of CKNW

  • Shoot level with your eyes, producing an even eyeline, not looking up, never looking down at the viewer. Generally one arm’s length between your head and the camera.
  • Maintain consistent eye contact, not looking around the room. Ok to look down from time to time to check notes, etc, but best is conversational eye contact.
  • Good lighting…more is generally better…make sure all the lights are on in the room. A white paper on a desk can bounce and fill shadows from below. Some light from below (not Halloween flashlight) but some, helps.
  • Nothing distracting in the background, which may be shiny like a mirror reflecting lights, movement, cars passing by outside. No blank walls, yes to some texture like art, bookcase, not up against a wall. Avoid closet-like spaces.
  • Good audio: A quality mic, preferably a lav, close, wire hidden, no rustling with clothes, jewelry, etc. Avoid built-in computer/monitor mics if possible. Full ear covering headsets look funny. If you have to use an iPhone headset, use one earbud (usually right side with volume control & mic), drape your wire so it’s not dangling and distracting. Consider scotch taping the wire behind you at the back to your collar. Mute all other phones, noise sources, TV, radio, computer sounds. If others are nearby, alert them and post an “On Air” note on the door before you close it.

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