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In the last couple of years, I've been interviewing WW2 veterans living in Israel, as part of a project of mine - whose goal is to allow the last members of the greatest generation to tell their story, while they're still here.

To make the interviews more interesting, I thought about filming some parts of the interview while slowly walking in a park or around the interviewee's apartment. It's just that I've seen some interview fragments which were shot that way - and in my opinion, it brings some extra "life" to the interview subject, as a contrast to a person which sits through the entire video.

I thought about buying a gimbal and support belt to plug it into, and just to hold the camera, via the gimbal, in one hand, slightly to the right side of me - so that the subject won't look straight into the camera and the footage will look good.

So, considering the fact that I'm doing this on my own – and I got a Canon 70D (+24mm f2.8 lens) and a Sony A6000 (+30mm 1.4 lens) – which I usually just use on tripods, during a standard "sitting" interview – does this seem reasonable to you, or do you have any tips\recommendations?

It's important to emphasize that the walking speed is gonna be very slow, with potentially many parts of the interview taking place when the interviewee sits down on a bench or just stands still for a moment. So, my ultimate question is – will I be able to act as both the interviewer\listener and to operate the camera (holding the gimbal, making sure it's pointing at him) at the same time?

Any recommendations, tips, criticism or any other input will be greatly appreciated 😁!

Pictured below: Walter Bingham MM, from Jerusalem, which I interviewed about a year ago and an illustration of the gimbal +support belt setup I thought about using. enter image description here

enter image description here

A teaser of an upcoming episode, as an example of my footage -

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Maybe an insta360 might be more use for this? The stick is automatically deleted when you process the video, the motion is very smooth, and they’re small and light, so you could hold it for long periods of time. I’ve seen people use them on news reports as alternative views quite successfully.

https://www.insta360.com/mobile/

Example on BBC News here: https://twitter.com/dougalshawbbc/status/1503755874770247682?s=21&t=OMTA_nM62KKcJbjDG1Lnaw

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  • It looks very dinky, but the shots are really wide, going on fish-eye, & long, long DoF which really makes it look like newsreel.
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 20, 2022 at 16:13
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I see no reason you couldn't do it this way, assuming you're using lav mics for the sound to avoid you being much closer to the camera mic, yet off-axis.

I'd grab a couple of friends for the rehearsals & definitely one for the shoot. If you're walking backwards, not only to you have to be able to keep the camera pointed in a sensible direction, you also have to actually be doing the interview - all whilst walking backwards so you can't see where you're going.
In the pro world, this is achieved using a Grips or Camera Assistant, who will literally just keep hold of your back as you walk. Their job is then two-fold - they stop you from walking into things & they shove people out of the way who might otherwise knock into you. [This is probably an easier task on set where camera is king. In public they might have to be a little more circumspect in their shoving;)
In short, though, this leaves you to be camera op, rather than camera op constantly looking over his own shoulder.

So you then only have two jobs to do - keep the cam steady & keep up your side of the interview.
Alternatively - find a cameraman.

I managed to find a picture of this setup in action, though I'm assuming you won't also have a boom op behind you. [Seems tough to find a pic of this with the AC facing the direction of travel, but I assure you this is the way to do it ;) I've seen camera ops who can do this whilst running backwards.

enter image description here

You could of course, avoid the interview portion to camera & just use it as backdrop to a voiceover segment - seeing, doing, but not talking; or alternatively get the interviewee to run a part of a long narrative, so you don't need to be holding up your end of the interview at the time, just be the face to talk to, for sight line. It would perhaps give it a more documentary feel rather than straight talking heads.

You might have to choose between longer lens, wider aperture & ability to keep the subject in focus whilst doing this. I always love a soft background for this type of thing for a more cinematic, less 90's TV news look. That's normally going to need a focus puller too, so I'd definitely get this decided in rehearsals, not when you're tracking a 97-year-old veteran for take 17.
I don't know how good your autofocus is for tracking this live, but personally I'd accept a shot going soft in places over one I can see the focus jumping around.

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