Search This site

26 June, 2017

These 10 tips will improve your smartphone videos

Do you struggle to make great videos with your mobile phone? 

Here are 10 tips to that will help you begin to shoot and edit like a pro.

1. Wipe the lens clean
Your phone spends a lot of time in your pocket and on tables. Gently wipe the lens of your phone’s camera with a soft cloth.

For example, use the inside of your t-shirt! Only a clean lens can produce clear images.

2. Don't shoot vertical video
Video projects over 10 seconds long are best viewed horizontally. Remember, we live in a world of widescreen cinema, HD TVs and laptops. Other caveats: Very few editing apps allow you to edit vertical clips and it is very difficult to frame people and film satisfying action shots in a vertical window. Exception - SnapChat (Natch!)

3. Remain calm
Stable video is far more watchable. You can often improvise a tripod look by anchoring your body to something large and heavy and bring your arms in close to your body.

There are many great mini tripods on the market that will hold your phone and  many of these are light and small enough to fit in your purse. Remember, you must use a tripod when filming time-lapse videos.

4. Don't use the ‘zoom’ controls
There is no such thing as ‘Zoom’ on a phone camera. You are actually cropping the image and losing resolution.

Instead, use ‘Sneaker Zoom’ and move closer to your subjects. If you feel the need to include a subject’s shoes in a shot, then simply move in and get a close up shot.

More iPhone filmmaking:

5. Sunshine on your shoulders
Pay attention to the quality and direction of the light for the scene you are filming. Beware of high-contrast locations and seek out window light whenever possible.

Avoid capturing backlit shots by remembering to let the sunshine kiss at least one of your shoulders and back.

6. Lock exposure and focus
When filming with the native camera (video or Photo modes) tap and hold on the are you want focus and expose for. Hold this until a yellow bar appears displaying the text “AE/AF LOCK.”

Holding focus and exposure will help your clips look more professional and give you greater control of the final quality.

7. Get your microphone close to your subject
The key to capturing clear audio is to get a microphone close to your subject’s voice box. One easy and low cost way to do this is to plug in your Apple earbuds and extend your hand forward while filming.

Lapel mics are better and there are even pro mics available for when your budget allows the upgrade.

Clean, clear audio is what separates pro videos from everyone else. It begins with the mic.

8. Plan camera motion before filming
Does your next shot need to dolly in to focus the viewer's attention on one subject’s expression or will you need to pan away and hold the framing on another part of scene while the narrator speaks?

Camera moves are effective when used for narrative purposes like this. Avoid moving your camera just because you can. "Wallpapering" a scene is the worst.

9. Go into airplane mode before recording interviews
A mobile phone has a radio that can interfere with your audio and video recordings. You will not notice the static and beeping interruptions until you listen to the playback. Also an unexpected call can blow an interview.

10. Learn Picture Language
After you master these basics for camera usage, you are on your way to recording better video clips. To learn how to plan and produce video stories with your phone, you will need to study and practice building visual sentences.

Filmmakers call this Picture Language and there are elementary visual grammar rules that can help you build logical visual sequences. For example your shots must answer story questions for a viewer.

Certain shots can be considered verbs, others can be seen as nouns and so on. When shots of the right size and content are correctly placed one after another they flow together because they obey the rules of visual grammar.

Want to learn how to shoot and edit a professional-looking video or film experience using just your iPhone?

The Smart Film School is a collection of e-learning course packs that teach you how to shoot and edit video on a mobile phone, produce social video content and master mobile journalism.

Happy Filming!

14 June, 2017

Which 360° VR video camera should you buy to produce live videos?

Now is the time to start getting excited about what we can do with live, spherical video broadcasts.

National Geographic posted the first Facebook 360° live video from the Mars Simulator research site in Utah using four Nokia OZO Live cameras, wireless mics and picture-in-picture live feeds from famous scientists like Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Of course, not everyone has Television-sized budgets and technical teams to produce to a live 360° VR broadcast with that kind of complexity, but the good news is that you can still do some compelling spherical storytelling on a smaller budget.

The scale and cost of this type of PR spectacle indicates that Live 360° video will be a BIG deal for all of us media makers.

When Facebook decides to put their thumb on the scale of what users see (video, live video, 360° videos ,and now 360° live video) it is natural to guess that a lot of people will see these posts and Facebook will be selling ads against those eyeballs.

I advise broadcasters, publishers and educators about 360° video production, video livestreams for Facebook and YouTube, and the gear that makes all that happen.

Let's take a deep dive into a few new gear choices that complement the strategic workshops I am currently producing.

In those visits we combine research, tech and strategy to develop new business models and programming approaches for reaching the social video crowd - The YouTubers, Facebookers, Snap chatters, and Instagrammers.

One of the keys to continuous innovation is a regular replenishing of your Sandbox.

And this is the time of year that many of my partners are asking me how to spend their budgets before they expire at year's end.

A sandbox is designed for play and healthy experimentation and is assembled for the purpose of allowing the staff to test out ideas and develop new story formats before their competitors do.

These are the top tools in Robb's Sandbox.

360° Mobile Journalism field reporting
You will want to experiment with the low cost Insta360 Nano for producing livestreaming 360 video reports from your smartphone.

It costs less than $199 and an Android version is also available for $139 called the Insta360 Air.

Insta360 Pro Spherical VR 360 8K Camera

This little monster may look like a prop from a Star Wars movie, but promises to do really high quality images and sound in package that costs $3,999. Learn more.

Orah 4i VR camera from Video Stitch.

This compact little camera streams 4K resolution live virtual reality video to headsets–all with the push of a button.

It features live stitching and four microphones to capture the ambisonic 3D sound which enables the viewer of the content to locate the origin of the sound source with a VR headset.

Ambisonic audio is critical to VR storytelling.

The camera is powered by an ethernet cable that runs back to this live stitching production box.

A box with a mic input.

YES! This means we can have the ambisonic sound mix from the camera PLUS a wireless mic in for a presenter or host using a Sennsheiser AVX wireless mic.


Live video switcher
If you want to simulate what NatGeo did with live shot switching from the field, you will need something like a Sony Anycast Live Producer.

360° Cinematic film production

GoPro Omni

BH Photo bundles this six-camera rig with everything you need to capture and stitch together high definition spherical video.

And by everything, I mean it is all inclusive.

It is a fantastic camera array for offline video production.

It does not do 'Live" and it will not record 360 ambisonic audio.

To produce a 360° sound track that matches the video quality, you will need a tetrahedral microphone:

A VR Microphone

Sennheiser Ambeo

and a multi-track field recorder:

Zoom F8 Field Recorder

This is just the bare basic kit.

Sound design is super important for 360° films.
Don't take just my word for it.

Here, have a look at the audio engineering prep for a pro 360° video shoot.

You can get started with a smaller investment.

Get more tips in my new 360° video editing course.

13 June, 2017

Add this 360° logo to your VR video project

Editing a 360° video project?

You may like to add a 360° graphic icon to the first seconds of your film to give it the pro touch and to provide a visual cue to viewers on YouTube and Facebook.

Here is a PNG file of the one I use for my 360° video projects.

Get more tips in my new 360° video editing course.

12 June, 2017

Edit 360° VR video on your smartphone with LumaFusion app

Editing a 360° video project with LumaFusion on iOS.

The 360° VR video below was shot with a Rico Theta S and edited with an iOS app called LumaFusion.

And then uploaded directly from the app to


and YouTube.

Editing a 360° video project with several video and audio tracks with the iOS app.

The output settings for sharing the 360° video to YouTube.

Watch the complete editing process
-> Enroll in this online video tutorial.

  1. 360° filming
  2. Organizing video clips
  3. Set up your video project
  4. Trimming and arranging clips
  5. Editing audio tracks
  6. Adding text overlays
  7. Saving and sharing on social m...

10 June, 2017

Design Thinking: Case Studies for Business

A radical new way of design thinking is here to help you build a business culture that continuously develops new strategies, business models and products.

Grab this discount coupon for the online course:

How to build an innovation culture that continuously develops new strategies, business models and products - The Design Method.

You will learn to:
  • Identify a challenge or opportunity in your marketplace
  • Define the customer who will benefit from your solution
  • Run a productive brainstorming sessions
  • Build a roadmap and action plan with a cross-functional team
  • Plan for a great user experience from the start
  • Rapidly draft and refine solutions that solve problems for users
  • Validate your prototype solution
  • Build the perfect pitch deck to get your project green-lighted
What are you waiting for?