Welcome to the year 2018, where 95 percent of Americans own a cell phone of some kind! The large majority of those devices are indeed smartphones, which utilize an operating system to function like a mini computer. Gone are the days of having to purchase expensive equipment to create video. Today’s smartphones provide impressive camera technology and an expansive array of supporting applications at your fingertips. That means anyone can create high-quality video whenever they want!
If you don’t have much experience with shooting video, you might be concerned that the end result will not look as clean or polished as a video created by professionals using specialized equipment. Have no fear, because with a little practice and some basic ground rules, anyone can make awesome video. Check out these tips to take your next cell phone video to the next level!
1. Keep it steady
The number one mistake I see people make when they’re filming is shaky shooting or movement that is much too fast. This is immediately displeasing to a lot of viewers and can even make people feel motion sick! With today’s mobile phones varying in size, shape, and weight, holding your device still for an extended amount of time or shooting when you’re moving can prove to be a challenge. To remedy this, consider your shot before you begin and invest in a tripod for your phone. You can pick up an inexpensive tripod that will make a world of difference for your live streams and other videos.
If you know that you are going to have some kind of panning (rotating a camera on its vertical or horizontal axis in order to keep a moving person or object in view), try to keep your device moving in steady, straight lines. Use both hands and keep your device as close to your body as possible to steady yourself. Some tripods also come with a pan handle to make panning a cinch.
2. Framing is key
Just like taking great photos, thoughtfully framing your subject(s) and balancing your shot will elevate video quality tremendously. The most-used rule of composition in film and photography is the rule of thirds. To use the rule of thirds in your next shoot, imagine a tic-tac-toe grid spread across your frame to break it into nine pieces. Then, compose your shot with the most important elements of the video along the intersecting lines of the grid. Studies have shown that people’s eyes usually go to these points most naturally, rather than to the center of the shot.
3. Check your lighting
A main drawback of using your cellphone to shoot video is that proper lighting is crucial, as the image sensors and lenses are smaller. Avoid shooting in low-light settings or settings with too much backlighting. Filming without enough light will create unnecessary shadows and grainy areas. You should also avoid shooting directly into a bright light source to avoid overexposure and lens flare.
4. Yes, your audio is important
Have you ever started watching a video and the audio was so horrible that you turned it off within ten seconds? Maybe the the wind was loud or you couldn’t hear your subject speaking? Unwanted noise is distracting and can often be the difference between a bad video and a good video.
If you want good quality audio, it’s important to acknowledge you probably won’t get it on your smartphone. The microphones are generally low quality and not adequately positioned. If you’re filming indoors without a lot of ambient noise and you’re close to your subject, it can work fine. It’s also easy to remedy this by investing in your own external recording device or a directional microphone that will work with your smartphone.
5. Take advantage of the vast array of available apps
There are a plethora of third-party applications available, both free and paid. Some of my favorites for basic filters and editing abilities are Videorama, Video Crop, Fused, and Adobe’s Premiere Clip, which works with Premiere Pro. With these apps you can easily trim and piece together video clips, add music and effects, and more. Check out a list of other apps for iOS here and for Android here.
Now get out there and let your inner George Lucas inspire you to make an awesome video!