Social media has made getting your video out to an audience more attainable than ever before. Smartphone cameras have made video recording easier than ever. However, that being said, smartphone video isn’t right for every company. The more professional your brand, the more professional your video needs to look. If you are a YouTuber, a blogger, or a ‘mom and pop’ brand, such as a local plumber or realtor, cell phone video could work for you. It is rare for a video that has been created on a phone by a brand of any size to get a lot of viewers, but that’s OK, as long as it fits your goals. I have seen a lot of brands use phone video for their internal audiences. This is a mistake because it sends a subliminal message that their viewers are not worth the expense of good video communication.
Smart phones do a lot of things. Most phones now can shoot video in 4k; which means 4 times the resolution of the HD TV set you have at home. This allows you to zoom the footage in using your editing software and get two different looks from the same shot.
Cell phone cameras, like all cameras, are hard to hand hold and get a smooth shot. To make your video look better, I would suggest that you get a tripod. There are times when hand holding the camera is ok but just make sure that you don’t make your viewer sick with all the camera movements and try using the steady shot feature on your phone. If you can’t get a tripod, another trick is to keep the phone close to your body by pulling your elbows close.
If you are recording people talking to the camera, or are recording things that are close to the camera, also known as a close up, you will need a tripod that will go as high as the person or thing you want to record. You will also need some kind of adaptor to connect the phone to the tripod. A tripod is especially important if you are recording a time-lapse.
Cell phone cameras need lots of light. You can use professional lights. However, since we are recording with a phone, that usually means we have a small budget. Another way to do lighting is to use paper lanterns or put your camera close to a window that is looking into the room. This way the light from the window will fall on your subject. I recommend doing this on the opposite side of the building from the sun. This way you are not getting direct sunlight on the subject of your shot. This is the easiest way to light someone because the natural light from the shady side of the building will be soft and even, removing shadows.
Get control of your phone by locking the exposure. On most phones, this is done by tapping and holding on the screen. You can also use an app like Filmic pro which is for both Android and Apple phones. This will allow you to have more control of your camera phone. If you are recording videos by yourself, you can use a program called Relector 2 which lets you connect your phone to your computer so you can see what your phone sees on your computer screen. This is available for Apple and Android devices on your Mac or Windows computer.
Don’t use the digital zoom. This will degrade your image. If you need to get close to what you are recording, physically move your camera closer. The exception to this is if you have the new iPhone 7 that has optical zoom. That is OK to use.
The audio of your video is actually more important than your picture and the built in audio on any camera, especially a phone, should never be used except for in an emergency setting. There are a few cost effective options for external microphones that plug into the headphone jack of your phone. Two that I like are the Rode Smartlav mic and the Audio technique. I like the Audio technique better because it is only $25. Make sure to get the microphone as close to your subject as possible.
Other Camera Accessories
There are many different accessories for your smart phone, everything from lenses to lights and fancy stabilizers. They are all nice but, at some point, you should invest money into getting a better camera and equipment. It also might be the sign that you need to hire a professional.
Editing can be done on your phone but the easiest way to edit is using a computer. Just make sure you use some kind of file sharing service to move the video file to your computer for editing. Texting the video can often cause it to lose quality. We don’t recommend sharing the video file through texting.