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How to film a short interview or ‘vox pop’

October 2012

‘Vox pop’ comes from a Latin phrase that literally means voice of the people. It is a term often used in broadcasting for short and quick interviews where you want to gather an opinion or comments on an issue or topic from people.

  • Location! Choose somewhere quiet as background noises are interfering and often mean that the vox pop cannot be used. Try to avoid filming on a windy day (as wind sounds very loud through the camera’s microphone!) and avoid places with strong echoes (such as sports halls). Where possible stand in natural light or near a window to get the best possible picture.
  • Be clear – explain what you want to ask in the vox pop in advance and how and where it will be used.
  • The camera - hold the camera still and steady it against your body or lean against the wall or something solid. Avoid using zoom as it makes the image shakey. Try to hold the camera in line with the persons head and shoulders, rather than looking up or down at them.
  • Framing – head and shoulders is good as it avoids hand movement which can be distracting to watch and the person being interviewed will probably feel more comfortable. As a guide - the interviewee’s eye line should be roughly one third down from the top of the frame (see picture below). Avoid lots of empty space around their face.
  • Be relaxed – people can feel stressed with a camera around so be calm and speak slowly. You can say to pretend that the camera is not there and to just look at you when they answer.
  • Recording – press record and then ask your first question so that the beginning of the interview is captured.
  • The interview – be prepared and know which questions you would like to ask in advance. Try to ask open ended questions; questions which ask for an opinion rather than a yes/no response. Avoid talking or saying ‘mm’ or ‘okay’ (like you would in a conversation) while the interviewee is talking and explain that you will be quiet while they are speaking (but of course you can smile and nod!).
  • Ask for more information – if the interviewee answers very generally, ask them to tell you a bit more so that the vox pop will be useful to you.
  • Thank you – tell them where they will be able to find the videos in the future and roughly when.

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