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The Accidental Videographer Shoots Interviews With an iPhoneX

At NAB 2018, I shot 13 video interviews using my new iPhone X. In this article, I'll detail the ancillary gear that I used, and discuss the production and artistic lessons that I learned.

This past NAB, I shot 13 video interviews ranging in duration from 2-16 minutes using my new iPhone X. In this article, I’ll detail the ancillary gear that I used, and discuss the production and artistic lessons that I learned, including one critical production step that’s essential to maintaining audio video sync in your final output.

By way of background, the flurry of production at this year’s NAB was conceptualized last year, when I aspired to shoot interviews at a Netflix party where they showcased their production tools and workflows. A faulty connector on my iPhone 6 killed that production, but the idea had been brewing ever since.

In 2018, armed with an iPhone X, I packed the same gear, figuring that I’d be speaking with many companies during the show, why not shoot interviews, creating another publishable form of content, and recording comments for any articles that I write? Beats taking notes, right? My biggest concern was the ability to produce acceptable quality audio and video. You’ll be the ultimate judge, but it’s a threshold I think I exceeded. Here’s how I did it.

The Gear

Figure 1 (below) shows the gear that I used, which totaled under $200, not counting the iPhone, though I already had the cheap tripod (and you probably do as well).

Figure 1. My setup. The green LED on the mic meant it was working; a red light meant clipping.

LED Video Lighting

I shot a couple of interviews in a dark bar, which made the light absolutely essential. Even on the trade show floor, however, the light made a huge difference as you can see in Figure 2 (below), which shows the interview where I forgot to turn on the light on the left, and one with the light on the right. On the left, you see the typical shadows on the bottom of the face from top down show-floor lighting; on the right, bright flat lighting that should compress well.

Figure 2. Definitely need the on-camera light to avoid the shadows seen on the left.

I liked the Neewer light because it came with filters for 5600K and 3200K, used old Sony camcorder batteries that ran forever, and included a battery indicator. During operation, the adjustable brightness proved absolutely essential. At $27, it’s tough to beat.

Microphone

For these types of two- and three-person interviews, I favor a handheld over lavalier microphones because there’s no setup time and because lavaliers tend to be more omni-directional and pick up more noise. I might go in a different direction when working in a quiet environment, but on the trade show floor, the handheld worked very well.

I used the first-generation iRig Mic HD for my interviews, which is no longer available, so I show the second-generation model in Figure 1. You may be able to use the older iRig Mic handheld condenser mic which is still sold, and retails for around $60.

From my perspective, the key features of the iRig Mic HD were a cardioid pickup pattern which excluded much of the ambient noise from the show floor, and light indicators that displayed when the mic was powered, and when you were clipping. I was very impressed with the audio quality this mic produced under challenging conditions, and its durability.