Producing video content at home and on a budget is now easier than ever. The following are some general tips and online resources that will help you make the most of the camera we all have resting at our fingertips.
General Smartphone Recording Tips
- Try Not to Zoom
- Most smartphone cameras use “digital zoom”. Instead of truly magnifying your shot, digital zoom actually just crops down the frame and will quickly result in your video getting pixelated. If you feel the need to zoom, try to move closer to your subject if possible instead.
- Avoid Vertical Video, in Most Cases
- It is true that for most projects it is better to record video with your smartphone in a horizontal position. That being said, what really matters is the format of video you are hoping to create with your footage. If you are producing social media content that will most likely be published unedited and viewed vertically on a phone, shooting your footage horizontally may not be necessary. However, you will want to shoot horizontally if you are producing video that will be edited and viewed horizontally on a TV or computer screen. In this case, using horizontal video is necessary to avoid empty space in the form of black bars on each side of the video when your video is eventually exported after editing.
- Always Check and Set Your Focus
- Make sure the focus of your shot is where you want it to be. A smartphone camera uses auto exposure and auto focus, which means it will automatically find what it thinks you want the focus of the image to be and set the lighting of the shot accordingly. However, it doesn’t work perfectly and can easily set the focus at the wrong point in your frame. This can result in your subject being out of focus and/or too dark or too bright.
- Pay Attention to Framing
- Always be aware of the entire image you are capturing. While shooting it’s easy to notice the subject of your frame being where you want it. Noticing everything else in the shot takes more attention to detail. Always avoid having anything in the shot that will attract attention away from the subject you want the audience to focus on.
- Keep It Steady
- Always be aware of how you are holding your camera while recording video. It doesn’t take much movement for a shot to become shaky. The safest way to avoid this without using a tripod is to always hold your phone with two hands and as close to your body as possible.
- Using Slow Mo and Time Lapse
- Most smartphone cameras now come equipped with modes that allow for slow motion and time lapse video. While these are great options to have while recording, it’s important to make sure you use them in the right situations. Slow motion is good for giving more detail to a fast moving subject but can also be used to give a dramatic tone to more ordinary shots. Time lapse is perfect for showing movement over an extended period of time. Movement within the shot you are getting is key to the application of these effects. Using either effect for a shot that contains no real movement will result in lackluster footage because movement is needed for the effects to be noticeable.
- Remember Audio Limitations
- The microphone your smartphone uses will capture all the audio surrounding it. The closer the source of sound is to the camera the louder it will be. This means if you are breathing heavily or coughing while recording it will get picked up most prominently in the recording and can easily become distracting. Likewise, if your audio source is far away from your phone it will not get picked up very well in the recording. If you have audio you purposely want to record, make sure you are close enough to the source to hear it clearly.
- Make Sure Your Phone Has Enough Storage
- Video files are large and will fill up space on your phone very quickly. Before you start a recording session, make sure you have plenty of room on your phone to store the video files. The size of the video files varies depending on the type of smartphone you are using, so keep track of how quickly your videos are taking up space and be ready to delete older files to make room.
- Make sure you have permission
- When recording specific people or at a private location or event, be sure you get permission from the involved parties before doing so. While recording in a public space, you have more freedom to capture people in your shots if you treat them as part of the scene and don’t focus in on them or make them the subjects of your shots.
If reading lists isn’t your thing, you happen to be in luck. Below we’ve curated a couple videos that provide tips for those who prefer to see before they do.
6 Tips for Pocket Filmmaking:
Mobile Filmmaking – Basic Moves:
How to Transfer iPhone Video Files
If you happen to have an iPhone, the following videos may be of use to you. They cover how to transfer videos from your iPhone to and from either PC or Mac devices. This information is super useful when you need to import footage to your computer for editing, or simply need to free up storage space on your phone.