So you’ve been tasked with creating a short video clip for your business using your phone. While social media services like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat makes it easy to share your business’ videos with the world and retain all the quality your cell phone can offer… it is up to YOU to take some amazing videos first! Your cell phone enables you and your business to create video clips ad hoc as needed at events, in the office or to show off a new product, prototype, service or offering your business provides. It’s important to keep the quality as high as possible, even with off the cuff shoots. Remember, this is how you are presenting your brand to the world. 

Here are 6 tips to get the best out of your cell phone for video:

1. Shoot Video Horizontally or Vertically

Depending on how your video will be shared, you will want to orientate it to that format.

  • For social media platforms that support (and prefer) vertical video (like Instagram), keep your phone vertical (portrait).
  • For horizontal based platforms like YouTube or Vimeo, make sure you hold your phone sideways so that you capturing video horizontally (landscape) mode. 

2. Choose Your Resolution

Phones can sometimes be set to less than optimal resolutions, meaning that they are only capturing a portion of what they COULD capture. Check your camera settings to make sure you are filming in Full HD (1080p) or 4K video. If streaming, stick to HD in case your signal strength drops, this will limit image degrading.

3. Lock In Your Focus

Press and hold your finger on the part of the image you want to stay in focus until the AE/AF LOCK appears. If your phone lacks this feature it may have to be placed in Manual Mode (for Motorolas). In manual, focus camera using slider. Check with your phone’s user manual to learn how to focus it before you need it. 

Now when you are shooting your video the phone will not continually adjust focus.

4. Move Your Feet, Not Your Focus

While shooting video do not use zoom. Otherwise the larger digital image will exhibit pixilation and / or artifacts. If possible, move closer to the subject rather than using the zoom feature.

5. Use the Rule of Thirds

Split the screen into thirds horizontally and vertically. Your subject’s eyes should be along the upper horizontal line and close to an intersection point. Also do not cut off your subject’s head or chin and make sure your subject’s head does not appear to be floating in the video.

Use this rule to capture movement. If a person’s eyes are looking to the left, then allow enough space on the left so the viewer can follow the subject’s eyes. This applies to moving objects – leave space for movement around the object in the direction of travel for your viewer to follow the path of the subject. For horizon placement, like a sunset, position it either on the upper or lower line but not in the middle.

If you want to see a grid transposed on your camera app go to settings -> Photos and Camera and turn the grid on. This grid is only visible while taking photos but it will give you a sense of your subject’s position before switching to video mode.

6. Light!

Lighting is one of the most important factors in how a video looks. When indoors use good lighting whenever possible. Make sure the area is brightly lit and your subject either faces a window or uses natural sunlight. Also, do not point the camera directly towards a bright light source and avoid high contrast situations if possible. For example, do not shoot a subject with their back to a bright window. 

Say Hello!

Have questions about getting the most from your cell phone when creating social media or ad hoc marketing video for your business or maybe need some help with professional produced video? We’re here to help, drop us a line.

Now with those tips in mind, your cell phone is not a do it all tool for photo and video. Yes it can create both and with pretty good quality. However, don’t get tricked by marketing videos like this one from Apple and think to yourself, i can make this and all I need is a phone.

The above short was created by Roy Wagner ASC a well known cinematographer. Shot on a soundstage with professional lighting, sound and direction. So even though it is similar to the original version of the film, the differences standout.

Your cell phone is the perfect tool for fast ad hoc video creation for your business. However, nothing can substitute a professionally produced marketing video.

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