You will always need to give the person/ people you are interviewing instructions on how they can make the audio better. This will also make your live stream or post production easier as well. You may not be able to add room treatment all the time, but you can give them guidance on how to act during the interview.
If you are using desk mic stands, you need to use pads to isolate the mics from the desk as well as use shock mounts for added protection against desk bumps. This will help reduce desk bumps from transmitting through the mic. It only takes a little bump, to produce a big thump in your audio. It is best to use a overhead boom stand if possible, to hang the mics overhead and out of the camera view if doing video. You can also use this same procedure when not shooting video. You can build them out of PVC pipe for under $30 to fit on a regular mic stand, or you can buy one from Sweetwater for around $480!
Let them know they should have any papers they may be referring to, laid out in the order they will be using them, rather then having to shuffling though them to find the ones they need. If you are not going live, reassure them you can always do a take two. Most people will be nervous when you place a mic in front of them. By placing the mic above them, they will quickly forget it is even there.
Mic placement is critical when doing sit down style interviews. If you are using dynamic mics, remember that most require to be 3 to 4 inches from the sound source. Any further away, and you will start running into gain structure issues. This is where a small stereo set of condenser mics like the Behringer C-2 may work nicely.
For $49 a set, it will fit into most professional budgets and when placed overhead, sound incredible. Either way, you should always use a wind screen to help dampen plosives. Keep some type of non alcoholic mouth lubricant on hand such as Biotène® Moisturizing Spray or Dry Mouth Lubricant handy. Offer it to them if they are willing to use it. It will reduce lip smacks and “P” pops tremendously. Remember that when people get nervous, they often get dry mouth as well.
Hand talkers, we all know them and we may even fall into that category as well. Let them know that if they do fit into this category, it’s OK. But what they can’t do is bump the desk or slap their hands against their bodies, as it will be picked up by the mic. You should never feel guilty by explaining the interview process. After all, you are the professional, not them.
Make sure that if they are going to have water bottles, and they should, that these water bottles are not the flimsy type we have all seen and used. The crackling or crunching sound they will make, will ruin your audio. This goes for you as well. Have a cushioned pad for them to set the bottle back down on, to avoid the desk bump effect. Something like a inexpensive mouse pad works great.
If you are going to be doing a lot of sit down interviews, you can go to Vista Print and have your logo/website printed on some mouse pads, so if they are in the camera shot, you are helping to promote your business as well as looking like a pro.
Depending on how you set your mics up, you may be able to use “Ducking”. Ducking is a process you use that will gate one mic, while the other is being used. This comes in very handy to keep unwanted audio from coming into the second mic, when it is sitting idle. Always be aware that your noises will also be picked up as well. If you are rocking back and forth, flipping through your notes or picking up that dreaded flimsy water bottle, you will be sabotaging your own recording.
Above all else, the people you are interviewing will never be blamed for how the audio turns out. That issue will always be placed squarely on your shoulders! So never feel like you don’t need to go over these simple rules with them, regardless of their status with the company/band/organization they are representing. It is your job to inform them what they need to do.
I can assure you, by following these simple rules, your interviewees will feel more at ease because they can see, you know what your doing and it will cause you less work in post production. You can download/print this article for future reference by clicking here. Dana.