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!