Whether you’re using an iPhone, an Android device or even an old iPad – mobile devices can produce amazing quality video footage. But if you want to make a professional-looking piece of video marketing, it’s not just a case of pointing and shooting!
Here are a few simple tips to help you out when filming on your smartphone!
Stick to the rule of thirds
The rule of thirds is applied by positioning the focal point of a shot along an imaginary line or intersection within a frame. If you imagine an image split into 3 sections horizontally and vertically, the focal point of the shot (either an object or the eyes of a subject) should sit either on the line or at an intersection. Essentially, it’s a guide to help you avoid capturing unattractive or distracting shots where a subject’s head is nearly cut off or they have too much ‘headroom’.
Use a tripod
Whereas professional video cameras are built more ergonomically to reduce any camera shake, smartphones are not! Even those with built-in image stabilisation, a tripod is the best way to go!
To avoid nasty camera shake, use a simple tripod or Gorillapod for as little as £20 to hold your camera steady. Even if you think you need a handheld look for your iPhone video, try it on a tripod first. Plus, it’s much easier to set up your shot if your hands are free and the camera is locked onto a tripod.
When positioning your tripod, make sure it’s at least eye level to your subject, if not a bit higher. If the camera is positioned below your subject, you’ll end up looking up their nose which isn’t a great look!
You can always create a makeshift tripod with a pen pot as well! Just wedge your phone in between a jam-packed desk tidy, pop it on a shelf and away you go!
Don’t use the zoom
Proper lenses in professional video cameras have mechanical zooms which use the lens glass to zoom in and out. This keeps the image quality high. The zoom function in smartphone cameras, however, is digital. Digital zoom reduces the image quality the more you zoom and it acts more like a crop function. This gives you pixelated and low quality images.
To avoid this, move the camera closer to your subject instead of zooming in/out.
free video camera cheat sheet!
Don’t use auto anything!
If your camera app allows autofocus and autoexposure to be turned off, then do it.
Using auto settings is great for some situations, but if you’re shooting someone talking to the camera it can cause problems. Some devices make minor adjustments to the focus or change the exposure even during static shots, which can result in jumpy-looking footage.
By using manual settings when making your iPhone video, you get so much more control over the shot. Once your camera is set on the tripod, you can use the manual settings to focus on the subject and adjust the exposure so the shot is balanced.
Turn over…and cut!
To make life simple for the video editor, each shot should have a few extra seconds at the start and end of every take as a buffer.
On a film set, the familiar sound of the assistant director shouting ‘Turn over’ and ‘Cut!’ are instructions to the camera & sound team for them to start and stop recording respectively.
There’s always a good few seconds between hearing these commands and the scene beginning. This allows a few seconds of footage to be captured at the start and end of each shot, making the edit much easier.
If you shout ‘action’ and hit record as soon as the subject starts speaking, or hit stop as soon as the last word is out of the presenter’s mouth, that won’t give the editor any room to transition from one shot to the next. So always give yourself a few extra seconds!
Get close to the microphone
To capture the best sound, your subject needs to be as close to the microphone as possible. This goes for any video project, whether you’re recording on an iPhone or with a professional sound kit.
Try and get the camera as close as possible to your subject and shooting in a space with minimal background noise and echo will also help.
If this isn’t possible, consider using an external microphone that works with smartphones. With this, you can then clip it onto your subject and get much better sound. You can even plug this into a different device pop it in your subject’s pocket to avoid trailing wires and to give the camera more freedom when shooting. All you need to do is sync the audio and video clips up in the edit and you’ll get a much more professional sounding video!
Light your video properly
When filming any video, the main source of light in a scene should be in front of your subject at head height, roughly 30 to 45 degrees off to one side. If the brightest light is directly above, behind them or at a different angle, you’re likely to get problems.
Try and use natural light where possible. Position yourself near a window and adjust with a blind or curtains if needed.
Keep the battery charged
Nothing uses up a phone’s battery like using the camera! Therefore keep your phone plugged into power as much as you can. Use a long USB cable to a laptop, a wall plug or even a portable USB power bank, any of these will do the trick.
USB power banks can be extremely useful in many situations actually. Here are a few decent ones to choose from:
- EC Technology Battery Pack with LED Flashlight – This is the one I use, 3 USB slots so you can power multiple devices with a whopping 22400mAh of power too!
- Anker Astro E1 – A natty little one for emergencies, only one USB socket but enough for one and a bit charges of an iPhone
- RAVPower 24W Solar Charger – Not exactly a power bank, but still useful for filming outdoors to keep your phone topped up!
Avoid any unwanted phone calls or notifications interrupting that perfect take! Make sure to stick your phone on airplane mode to stop incoming calls and texts, plus you’ll also improve the battery life.
Don’t forget, all the usual filmmaking rules of sound and lighting apply when filming on a smartphone too. Not to mention your video marketing strategy as a whole!