Top tips for shooting video on your smartphone

We understand that it is not always possible to hire a filmmaker for all your content needs.  As video is leading the way to drive engagement on your social channels it is key that whatever you produce is done well and looks professional.  So we’ve decided to help you to shoot your own iPhone video.

The following guidelines are to assist with capturing basic video footage using a smart phone.  This should be used for quick ‘sound bites’ or ‘pieces to cameras’ that need to be captured at short notice and turned around quickly.  The below is based on filming on an iPhone.

At the end of the blog you’ll find a shopping list of iPhone accessories that we would recommend if you have a small budget to enhance your iPhone video, or you plan on creating your own content on a regular basis.

General Tips

Always make sure the device is horizontal for a landscape effect when filming with a smartphone.  Make sure you keep the iPhone steady, we recommend investing in an tripod if you produce content regularly.

Get your iPhone as close as you can to the subject, and the background as far behind your subject as possible.  When looking at the room you’re shooting in, mentally divide it in half and make sure you, your iPhone and your subject are all on one side of the room.

Make sure the camera is at the same height as the subject.  This will give you the best angle and will make it feel more natural.

Avoid shooting the subject up against a wall.  Leave room behind the subject as this will avoid the of casting shadows. When a subject is shot right up against a wall or background, the entire plane of sight appears in-focus, making it difficult for the viewer to focus on one thing.

Do not use the zoom on the iPhone.  As the lens is not zooming optically it will just be enhancing the picture digitally, which will lessen the quality of the picture.  If you want to get closer you must move the iPhone nearer to the subject. Ensure the exposure is locked, this will prevent the camera from adjusting the exposure and refocusing whilst filming is taking place.

Capture additional shots.  If you want to take your edit to the next level and have software that can cut and edit the film, or you plan to give your footage to an editor.  Once filming is complete try to get a series of different shots that do not include the face of the person talking.  For example a shot of their hands or if they are talking about something specific then film a short clip (around 10 seconds in length) of what they are talking about.

These are called cut aways and are useful when it comes to the edit as it will allow the editor to cut between the subject and something else to join up two different sections of film seamlessly.  Like when you are watching a chef take you through a recipe and they cut to a close up of the ingredients.

Framing

There are two different ways to frame the subject in your iPhone video that need to be taken into consideration, depending on the purpose of the film.

If you are creating content for YouTube or your website hold the phone horizontally to get a landscape effect.

If you are creating for Instagram stories or IGTV then hold the phone vertically for a portrait effect.

If you want to publish the content on both channels, we recommend filming in both orientations and creating two edits (sorry but you’ll thank us later).

Direct address to an audience

For video content that is an address directly to the audience – eg. an announcement – the subject must look down the lens of the camera, as this will engage the audience directly.  For films directed to the camera, the subject should be in the centre of the frame.

 

 

Lighting

Please be aware of lighting when filming and take into consideration where the light is coming from and how this best captures the interviewee.  If you are planning to create lots of similar content for your YouTube channel try to keep the lighting the same for all videos as it will ensure the thumbnails look consistent on your page.

Filming Inside:

When shooting interiors with available light, whenever possible, work with the light.

1. Control the light by closing/opening blinds and curtains

2. Utilise whatever electric lights are in-situ (table lamps, overhead lighting, monitors/tv screens)

3. Stand your subject facing a source of light (a window for example) to illuminate them on screen – avoid shooting against bright backgrounds.

By following these three basic principles you will be able to use the light to fill the frame that you are filming, as well as direct the light onto the subject of the film in the most appealing way and will avoid distracting shadows.  It is always worth spending a few minutes trying out different positions and taking some sample clips before filming to ensure you are happy with the lighting.

Filming Outside:

If you’re filming in hard sunlight, whenever possible, keep the sun behind you / the iPhone so that the subject remains lit by the sun and you can avoid any silhouettes.

If the light is too harsh you may benefit from moving into a shaded area so that the subject does not have to squint and the picture is not over exposed.  The best thing to do is to try a few alternative positions for some sample footage before commencing with filming.  Make sure they remove their sunglasses if it’s sunny! Eye-contact is extremely important.

Sound

The better the audio quality the better the final film.  One of the downsides of filming on an iPhone or smart device is audio quality.  We recommend using a microphone when filming on an iPhone.  Alternatively you can use another iPhone to record the sound separately if you are planning to use editing software or are giving to an editor.  Please make sure you clap (mimicking a clapperboard) in front of the camera if you do this and share both files.  Other key things to consider are your surroundings.  Ensure that you are in a quiet area with little or no background noise.

So there you go! Everything you need to start creating your own content and make an iPhone video fit for the world to see. We hope this article helps but if you have any questions please comment below.

Shopping List:

Tripod

Joby GripTight GorillaPod Stand for Smartphones

 

 

 

 

 

Glif tripod mount & stand for smartphones

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ravelli APLT2 50” Light Weight Aluminum Tripod With Bag

 

 

 

 

 

Audio

Rode Smartlav+ Lavalier Microphone for Smartphone

 

 

 

 

 

+

StarTech 2m 3.5mm 4 Pole TRRS Male to Female Headset Extension Cable

 

 

 

 

 

Please note: we are no way affiliated with the brands or links above.  These are our personal recommendations based on our own experiences.

Happy filming and if you get stuck on the edit you know where we are! Check out our post-production capabilities here.

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