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 by filming on an iPhone you can! But 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 a helpful guideline in video production that can make your shots look more professional and appealing.
Essentially, it involves dividing your shot into a grid of nine equal parts and then placing the focal point of the shot at one of the imaginary intersections or lines on the grid. Many smartphone cameras come with built-in gridlines that can help you compose your shot and create a more balanced image, so turn those on if you can.
Following this rule, you can avoid common mistakes that often make shots look amateurish.
For example, if you frame a shot so that the subject’s head is nearly cut off, or there’s too much empty space above their head, the shot can look unbalanced and awkward.
However, by using the rule of thirds to place the subject’s head at one of the intersections or lines on the grid, you can create a more visually pleasing and well-composed shot.
Use a tripod
A big mistake many beginners often make is filming handheld. This can lead to shaky and distracting footage that looks unprofessional and amateurish.
A better option for steady shots is to use a tripod, which is simple and provides a rock-solid base for your camera. Plus, it’s much easier to set up your shot if your hands are free and the camera is locked onto a tripod.
When choosing a tripod, it’s important to select one specifically designed for video, as it will provide smoother panning and tilting than a photography tripod. However, there are also many other options like suction mounts, flexible Gorillapods, desk clamps, and motorized gimbals that can give your shots a steadicam-style look.
When positioning your camera on a tripod, ensure it’s at least eye level with your subject, if not a bit higher. If the camera is positioned below your subject, you’ll look up their nose which isn’t a great look!
If you’re on a tight budget or don’t have access to professional equipment, there are still plenty of creative ways to stabilize your camera. For example, you can prop your smartphone in a pen pot or stack some books to create a stable base for your laptop camera. The key is to keep your camera as steady as possible, regardless of the tools you’re using.
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.
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Always follow the 5 second rule
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 when filming on an iPhone, 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 on an iPhone, 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.
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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!
When filming on an iPhone, make sure you avoid any unwanted phone calls or notifications interrupting that perfect take! Put 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!