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Lesson | 15 Minutes

QUICK GUIDE to Video Production

Rule of Thirds

Look at the image below. ​Typically, video journalists frame their interview subjects to follow the rule of thirds​. When composing a shot for most types of recorded interviews, imagine there’s a Tic-Tac-Toe grid over the screen. Make sure the main action, or the subject's eye, is positioned at one of the intersecting points. Typically the subject looks at the interviewer NOT​ at the camera. You can also flip the side of the frame for stories with multiple interviews.

rule of thirds 2.png

**There are times when you can consider having your subject look directly to the camera during interviews. It's an evolving editorial and production question. Is your interview subject sharing their opinion with the intention of speaking directly to an audience, versus the reporter for the piece? Also consider, unless the audience has a "host" to the story, a reporter/correspondent, they don't know who the person is talking to, so it might make more sense to talk to the audience directly.

A few things to consider during production and equipment setup before heading out in the field:

  1. Take advantage of a shallow depth of field in interviews​: Watch this 20-second video which explains how.
  2. Strong microphone placement:​ If you are using a shotgun mic, it should be close but out of frame, and your lavaliere mic should be neatly pinned to your guest without any wires showing.
  3. A light source:​ Use an open window or a desk lamp to ensure your interviewee is well lit. If you are outside, shoot your interview in the shade and make sure the background is in the shade as well. This will prevent overexposure (blown-out). Also, make sure you white balance -- set your camera to the correct type of light (daylight, fluorescent, tungsten/lamplight)!
  4. LISTEN and keep rolling until you get a clear answer!​ If the person you are interviewing stumbles or loses track of what they are saying during the interview, feel free to give them a second or third chance. Just say: “Could you start that sentence again?” or “Could you say that in two sentences?” They will appreciate it and your answer will be stronger minus all the “umms” and “ahhs.”
  5. B-roll, b-roll, b-roll. This is where the audience gets to see the action of your story. Without it, all you see are talking heads. We want you to SHOW the audience the story, not just tell us. Watch this Level Up on the importance of getting b-roll.

All videos should have the following elements:

  1. ON CAMERA IDENTIFICATION: For the record, please say and spell your full name (first and last) on camera. Also please describe how you want to be identified in this video. For example, “I’m an 11th-grade student at Canyon High School in Santa Clarita, California”
  2. All interview subjects should respond to your questions by repeating the question at the beginning of their answer: “What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?” “My favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate.”
  3. Find a background that says something about the issue. Do not film against a wall.
  4. Film in a quiet place where there aren’t any distracting or interfering noises.
  5. Use headphones to monitor for strong audio quality. Do not use your internal camera microphone. Please use a lavaliere mic or a shotgun mic close to the subject.

Participation and Deliberation

Civics teaches the principles—such as adherence to the social contract, consent of the governed, limited government, legitimate authority, federalism, and separation of powers—that are meant to guide official institutions such as legislatures, courts, and government agencies. (NCSS D2.Civ.7.9-12 - D2.Civ.10.9-12)

Demonstrate technical support related to media production (e.g., broadcast, video, web, mobile).

Evaluate technological advancements and tools that are essential to occupations within the Arts, A/V Technology & Communications Career Cluster.

Empowered Learner

Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving, and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences. (ISTE)

Creative Communicator

Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals. (ISTE)

Speaking and Listening - Comprehension and Collaboration



Video Production





Camera or Mobile Phone


Estimated Time

15 Minutes