Make Your Videos

12 Things You Want To Know Before You Shoot

The quality of your smartphone will have a big bearing on the quality of the video you capture. There are tools that can help enhance poorly captured video, but there are no substitutes for good equipment in the first place.

Once you learnt the process of creating your videos using a smartphone, you can upgrade your camera to a DSLR camera.

Smartphones with a great camera and the ability to record HD videos are no longer difficult to find – in fact they’re available everywhere.

Shooting a video on your phone is easy; you just swipe to video mode and hit record button. Your smartphone might even shoot video in FullHD, and shoot lovely, high quality videos.

However, while it is good to have a smartphone with an awesome camera, using poor video making technique will probably result in a poor video making.

1. Good Natural Light is Critical

Proper lighting has a huge impact on smartphone cameras because they have smaller image sensors and lenses. Try as much as possible to shoot your video in brightly lit areas. This will help avoid unnecessary shadows and grainy areas in your video. Conversely, you also must be careful not to point the camera directly at bright light sources, which will cause unusable overexposed footage and lens flaring. Lighting should be stable and steady; the image sensors in most smartphones do not react to dramatic changes in the lighting very quickly.

Light is a wonderful thing, but it can be a friend or foe when shooting a video. If you want to shoot better videos, you need to know how to work with the available light and use it to your advantage. When outdoors, try and find a position where the sun is evenly lighting the scene you want to shoot.

If some parts of your video looks too bright or too dark, get into the habit of changing your position and finding another angle which allows you to shot as you wanted, but you’ve got the light working for you not against you.

2. Keep Your Video Steady

Your smartphone is small and light, but you can keep it steady. The key thing is to use both hands, and lock your elbows into your body for extra stability.

But what if you want to introduce some controlled movement into your video. With your elbows locked into your body, use your feet as a solid base and move the whole of your upper body not just the camera to shot your video. This will result in a smoother motion every time you shot.

If you don’t want your video footage to come out distorted, blurred, the best thing to do is to keep your phone steady while recording and use both hands to hold your smartphone as close as possible to your body as you record the video. There are some equipment available in the market to hold your smartphone steady:

  • Tripods, Gimbals, and Stabilizers allow you to keep your smartphone or mobile device still while taking a video with them, they are perfect handles to accomplish this.
  • If a smartphone tripod or stabilizer is a little too costly or not practical for you in your circumstances, you can rest your phone on other physical supports like tables, chairs, desks, shelves, etc.

3. The Audio Matters

Bad audio will ruin a great piece of video, if you want to video someone talking, get closer to him as you can make sure they are heard above any noise in the environment. No doubt you’ve heard the horrible wind noises on some videos, so locate your smartphone’s built­in microphone and try to shield it from the wind, but be prepared to remove the audio later if it’s noisy and unusable with the help of a video editing software.

A good video with poor audio quality is junk unless you plan to add a completely new audio track to your video. While you want your video to look good, the quality of your audio is also more important than the video. Unfortunately, the built-in microphone in most smartphones is of low quality and improperly placed. The microphone will catch wind and unnecessary environmental noises that will compete with or drown out any important audio while shooting video outside. This is almost impossible to edit out later. It is advisable to shoot your videos in a quieter place, preferably indoors if possible with less noise.

So, for good quality videos with super audio, you should get an external recording mic or at least a directional microphone that will work with your smartphone. If using an external microphone isn’t possible or practical then stay as close to the audio device or mic as possible and use your hand to cover around the phone’s microphone (but don’t completely cover it). This way, unwanted noise can be reduced, which might give your final video a chance.

If you are taking a shot in an outdoor environment, with the windy weather, then there is a big chance that your audio quality will be poor. But, if you choose to record your video in a quiet place, indoors, then you will be able to increase your audio quality significantly, since there will be less noise picked by your mobile device’s microphone.

4. Rule of Thirds

A good one to start with is the rule of thirds. Some phones allows you to activate a grid on the camera app. Now this doesn’t work in video mode. Where the lines cross in the frame are all good places to put something of interest, or if you’re recording a person, position their head over one of these points.

5.  Get Close to Your Subject

Staying physically closer to your subject ensures better image quality, less noise and better focus in your videos since most smartphones use a digital zoom rather than optical zoom.

Smartphones don’t have zoom lenses, and any digital zoom features will reduce the quality of the image, so aim to find a position where you are close enough to your subject.

6.  Shoot Horizontal, Not Vertical

Stop shooting vertical videos. Some people who use their smartphones for filmmaking often make the mistake of holding their phones vertical, that is to say up and down rather than sideways, while recording the video.

Hold your smartphone horizontally so that videos played back on other screens will look fine.

7.  Improve Your Videos with Mobile Apps

The camera app on your smartphone may do a good job but there’s more to video recording than what most of them have to offer! Some third party apps are available with great features for those new to developing video content while some others unlock professional-like features

8.  Be Ready for the Shoot

Before you begin recording your videos, make sure that you have all of the gear, props, scripts, actors and shooting locations and everything is ready to go. Additionally, make sure your phone is charged and that you have enough storage space (memory card) to store the footage – high definition (HD) video files requires large storage capacity and will drain your battery quickly.

9. Take the video from different angles

Although a video made up of a single clip might show what you intended to show, and a video made up of many shorter clips often makes a more interesting watch, and you can pick out some smaller details, not just the overall scene.

Whatever your subject, think about what other shots you can get to complement your master shot, and add to the story. It can be as simple as shooting your subject both from close up and further away, or getting someone to repeat a performance (like a cartwheel) a few times so you can capture it from a variety of angles. You’ll end up with better video as you’ll find better angles to shoot from.

10. Set Exposure And Focus Manually

Not all smartphone apps do this, but try pressing and holding on an area of the screen to activate the AE/AF Lock function. With a smartphone, the most important is the AE (Auto Exposure) Lock because you don’t want the smartphone to keep changing the exposure while you’re filming.

This will often happen if you’re panning across an indoor scene (especially if there are windows!), so try locking the exposure on an area that gives you a good exposure for the whole scene. Manually setting the focus is great when you want to get close to an object, and you need to tell the camera to focus on a particular area.

11. Edit and share your videos

It sounds obvious, but if no one can watch and comment or give feedback on your videos, it’s hard to assess whether you’re shooting better video. It doesn’t require hours of work, as the edit can be as simple as trimming the beginning or end off a few clips and arranging them in a logical order.

Some of this can be done on your phone itself, but making use of free video editing software opens up more possibilities to enhance your videos. Most importantly, keep making videos, and get them out there for people to watch.

12. Clean the lens and Set your smartphone settings

It sounds silly and simple, but this is always a great place to start. It’s the equivalent of remembering to take the lens cap off of a DSLR Camera. It’s something so obvious that it’s often easy to forget. Before you shoot any video with your smartphone, make sure the camera’s view isn’t obstructed, and give it a quick swab. Moistened cleaning wipes are the best for this job, but your shirt will also do the trick for you.

Smartphones might be limited in functionality compared to more dedicated video cameras, but that doesn’t mean they’re only capable of shooting one type of video. Most premium smartphones available these days have a few different resolutions and frame rates to choose from.

On Android phones, these settings are usually right inside the main camera app, behind the settings gear wheel, or accessible via a toggle button.

Once you’ve found them, here’s a quick breakdown of the two most commonly used video settings:

  • 1080p at 24 frames per second: one of the two most standard settings for shooting video. 1080p is the resolution, a term for how many pixels (1920 x 1080) are captured in each frame of the video. 24 frames per second (fps) mean you’re capturing 24 frames every second.
  • 1080p at 30 frames per second: 
  • 1080p at 60 frames per second: 
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