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  • Writer's picturePacific Coast Content

How to be a Smartphone Scorsese: 5 Tips For Better Video Results

If you're thinking about shooting video for your business with a cellphone, I commend the effort and the way you're thinking. It means you understand the value of video and how easy it is for your audience to consume and share.

Shooting video on a cellphone can be easy, but it all comes down to what content you're creating.

If you're shooting something spontaneous, or want to share a quick bit of news with your audience, then shooting a video with your phone is a great way to touch your audience quickly and efficiently. It's also a fantastic tool for reaching your audience in real time via live streaming (Facebook Live, YouTube, etc.) And related to that, video conferencing via a cellphone is a handy tool when you don't have access to a computer camera.

All the above instances don't require high production value to be effective. Consumers have grown to accept and forgive on-the-fly, amateur video that isn't broadcast quality, in return for some timely news and exciting information.

[DISCLAIMER: There are some videos we think you SHOULD NOT use your smartphone for and that are better suited for a professional to produce. Commercials, branding statements, testimonials, product intros, etc. - It's best to leave videos that require ample prep to the pros. More on that in another post.]

To help you become a better cell phone video extraordinaire, here are 5 tips that will help you make your videos pop:

1. Good sound is everything. Bad audio can be devastating to any video, ruining your ability communicate effectively. Cell phones are great when near your face, but place one a few feet across the room and your audio degrades significantly. Consider an external microphone such as a Rode VideoMic or better, a lavalier microphone system. Also, make sure background noise is at a minimum. Did we tell you good sound is everything? Just making sure you heard us.

2. Lighting and stability are important too. Shooting video on your phone excuses the need for an advanced lighting setup. Even though you're not shooting a product demo or company overview, position your subject in the best light you can. Windows are a great source of natural, soft light (as long as the sun isn't shining right into the room). And if you do have lights, consider a 3-point lighting setup like THIS. Allow some time and experiment with what looks best with you. And lastly, try not to shake or wobble. Use a tripod or mount of some kind if you can. If you're planning on being mobile or walking around in your video, something like the DJI OSMO is pretty killer.

3. Smile a lot and don't expect perfection. Nobody wants to watch a video that starts with someone staring at the camera with a nervous or anxious face. It's off putting! And because you're doing this on your own, usually with little to no time to prepare, don't worry if you or your subject stumbles on words or messes up. As long as it's not a major faux pax, just go with it and have fun. Again, before anyone says anything, make sure they start with a smile and end with one, too.

4. Leave some room before and after. Always start and finish your recording with a few seconds buffer before and after. You'll need these few seconds to add transitions, openers and closing graphics to your final project. If you're shooting live video, do the opposite and get the show rolling as soon as you can.

5. Shoot everything in landscape mode. Seriously, don't shoot video in portrait mode. Ever. And worse, don't try to go from portrait mode (vertical) to landscape during the recording.

Hope that helps you hone in on your cell phone video skills. Once you shoot your footage, if you weren't doing live broadcast, you'll need to edit and package the video for consumption. iMovie on Apple devices is great, or the built in YouTube editor will help you clean up any rough spots in your footage.

The goal is keep things simple, make them sound good, don't shake or wobble and have fun!


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