Behind the Scenes of Filming a Remote Production Interview Social distancing requires different working methodologies

On this video videographer, Robert Machado shows how he managed to create a high-end video interview production under the strict social distancing rules with a very basic team and remote production and crew. Not only that but he was able to shoot his part in a way that other teams around the world can match exactly to create the finished video segment.

Before the CUVID pandemic film crews would simply fly to any location around the globe and shoot whatever they need to capture the content they require. These days flying is much more challenging and in many larger productions that need to shoot in different locations, you might find the production looking for other solutions. One of those is using skeleton local crews to shoot the content under remote direction which is exactly what Machado did for his production discussed in the video above.

So how can you shoot under these conditions when the director is not physically present and you have almost no help setting up the set and lighting? Machado’s answer as shown in the video is keeping things simple and reproducible, planning ahead, and using Zoom to let the director keep track of the action in real-time.

While this might now apply for any production, for this specific one very strict lighting setup was provided and Machado was asked to match it. The idea was that if you use the exact same background and lighting for every shoot done by every local crew you can get a result that can be edited in post to look like it was shot in the same location – this is, of course, good practice for any production even under normal conditions.

Machado only used an AC and a gaffer while the rest of the production including the director ware on the other side of the country. The actual on-site monitoring was done from a room next door to the one the actual shooting took place using two FX9 cameras (by the way for this type of work HDMI is almost never the solution of choice since SDI is a much better option as it is much easier to have long SDI cables than long HDMI ones).

The lighting setup for this interview was very simple and specific (based on the following chart) to give quite a bit of contrast and depth. Only a single light was used with no fill but in order to pull this off an 8×8 with a grid was used (with Skypanel S60c with a softbox for extra diffusion). The only other light was a Leko with a drop in IRIS to give some gradient to the background.

The actual on-site monitoring was done from a room next to where the interview was done (so the photographer didn’t even sit in the same room as the person interviewed. The cameras were connected to a monitor and a decimator multiview which then sent a signal through an SDI cable to an AJA U-TAP SDI unit can take an SDI input and send it to a computer via USB-A connection and loop it to another monitor as well. From the computer, you can take the signal and using Zoom (or some other similar software) broadcast it anywhere you want (in this case the off-site director). The camera control was done via WIFI (which we find interesting as from our experience with A7 series cameras – this has never been convenient and not something that we would consider using especially for high-end productions).

You can watch more HDSLR and video techniques on our dedicated HDSLR channel here on LensVid.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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