Filming a video on your phone is easy today, you just open your video app and hit record. Even the smartphone you have in your pocket can probably film in 4K, so what is stopping you from making great, high-quality video for your business right now?
Once you get past the fear factor of the unknown, I’ve found that the final result will depend highly on the preparation you put in place.
So, to help you get started, here are my Top 8 things to remember to shoot better video on your phone.
1) The basics
There are a few must do’s before you hit the record button, and number one is always giving your camera lens a quick clean. When you’re handling your mobile office all day, it’s easy to get greasy fingerprints on the lens, which always ends in disappointment when you nail that first take, only to watch back the replay back in all its blurred glory.
Additionally, make sure your phone is fully charged and that you have enough storage space (available memory) to store the footage – high definition (HD) video files can take a lot of space and drain your battery quicker.
Avoid vertical video. I really cannot emphasise this point often enough. Do not film vertical video! EVER! If you expect anyone to watch your video on a TV screen/monitor, keep your smartphone horizontal when you are recording. When you film with your phone in the upright position, your final video will appear much smaller and have two thick black bars on either side of the screen area. So always use this standard video format practice and shoot horizontally.
2) Get Ready
Even though smartphones are getting better and better at taking photos and video, the physical limitations of their size mean they cannot have the sensors of made for purpose equipment. So whenever you can film your video in brightly lit areas, do so. However, you need a balance, and you shouldn’t shoot directly in very bright or against brightly backlit locations. Ideally enough light to see all of your face with no shadows.
If some of the shot are looking too bright or too dark, get into the habit of moving to find another angle which gets you the shot you wanted.
Most phones also offer a focus and exposure lock (AE/AF Lock), which will prevent the camera focusing on something other than you while the camera is rolling, and keep the exposure steady in the event of natural light changes.
Lastly, you should pay attention to your composition. By using simple guidelines, you can enhance your video’s appearance by positioning your presenters’ head within the top half of the screen, and your camera should also be at eye level.
3) Get Steady
If you don’t want your video footage to leave your viewer feeling the effects of motion sickness, the best thing to do is to keep your phone steady while recording. Ideally using a tripod with appropriate mount, but if you don’t have a tripod position the phone on a stable base, like tables, chairs, desks, walls, etc. When doing this make sure your phone is secure and that you are still in focus and in-shot.
But what if you want to introduce some controlled movement into a shot? Lock your elbows into your body and plant your feet securely, move the whole of your upper body, not just the camera. This method will result in a smoother motion every time.
4) Sounds about Right
A good video with poor audio quality is useless unless you plan to add a new audio track in an editing process later. It’s essential your video looks good, but the quality of your audio is at least as important as the video itself.
Unfortunately, the built-in microphones in most smartphones concentrate on catching very local audio (for phone calls) and even try to cancel out background noise. When filming yourself in an interview type situation, it is inevitable you will pick up ambient, wind and general people sounds that will compete with your audio (which is almost impossible to edit out later). Therefore it is advisable to choose the quietest location possible for your video with the least background noise as possible.
5) Using Other Video Apps
The camera app on your smartphone may do a great job, but there’s more to video recording than what most of them have to offer! Some third-party apps are very intuitive with great features for those new to developing video content while some others unlock professional-like features. While you will find some pretty good free apps, investing in an app that cost a little bit of money can pay huge dividends, again I’d recommend using something like FiLMiC Pro which gives excellent levels of control.
Everything so far can be achieved with just you and your phone, but there are some cheap accessories available there that can turn your phone into a video making machine.
Using a tripod or stabiliser is a good option, and you’ll notice instantly that your video will look much more professional compared to a handheld video. For instance, you can buy a Bluetooth controller for less than $15 or an octopus grip tripod for under $20.
When you’re ready to move to the next step you should consider recording the audio with a separate recording device (even just a second mobile phone) or use an external microphone, for instance, I use a Rode SmartLav microphone (as little as $60) and achieve excellent results.
7) Mix it up
Although single scene video might show all that you intended, a video made up of multiple shorter clips often makes a more interesting clip.
Think about other shots you can film to complement your core shot, which will add to your story. It can be as simple as shooting your subject from close up and further away or getting someone to repeat the scene a few times so you can capture it from a variety of angles. You’ll end up with a much better video, as you’ll avoid boring the viewer from the one static position.
And lastly try editing your videos, which can be as simple as trimming the beginning or end off a few clips and arranging them in a logical order. This can even be done on your phone itself, but making use of free video editing software opens up more possibilities to enhance your videos, like introducing on-screen graphics. Most importantly, keep making videos, and get them out there for people to watch.
Producing great videos can be fun but more importantly create great awareness and engagement for your business. Master the art of videography with your smartphone by following these simple tips, and through practice, trial and error you will start seeing professional results in no time!