How to Shoot Smartphone Videos Like a Pro
by Nailea Ayala Sahagún, on Aug 18, 2020 5:00:49 PM
Are you looking for innovative ways to showcase your small business’s products? Or are you trying to turn your side hobby into your main job through more advanced marketing strategies? Either way, you’re going to need to get your product out on social media, and one of the best ways to do that is by launching an eye-catching video campaign.
With that said, you may be thinking, “That sounds like a good idea, but I’m just starting out… I don’t have any videography equipment available to me.” Well, guess what - that’s perfectly okay! You can still craft beautiful product videos with only a few tools, the most essential of which is something you likely already have on hand - your smartphone.
That’s why we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide to lead you through the 5 best methods for shooting creative, high-quality, and aesthetically pleasing videos with nothing more than your phone.
Elevate your camera set-up
To elevate your video’s look, you first need to consider a few things about your camera set-up.
Having a mobile tripod is extremely useful, especially when you don’t have someone helping you shoot your video. Tripods are lightweight, allowing you to take hands-free videos that are level and balanced. Attaching an external lens, such as a fish-eye or wide angle lens, can also help add a fresh perspective to your film.
When it comes to the physical placement of your camera, have your subject try to look straight into the camera, not above or below it. If your subject is far from you, try not to zoom in, rather, get closer. Don’t let your subject sit too far away from your camera. If you are the focus of the video, we recommend that you have someone else shoot for you if possible.
Once you have your camera ready, consider the point of view of the shot. How can you use the framing to tell your story? For some videos you may want a subjective point of view to connect viewers to your story, whereas for other videos you may want a less personal point of view.
Curate your lighting
One of the best ways to make your video look professional and aesthetically pleasing is to have good natural lighting. Our team at Presidio recommends that you try to film your video during the day for the best natural lighting. Try to avoid artificial and indoor lighting, as they often produce a colored tint that takes away from your subject. (To read more about the impacts of lighting, click here).
Even when filming during the day, however, you still need to be aware of where the main light source is. Sunlight on a day with no clouds can create shadows that don’t compliment your subject’s face, whereas sunlight on an overcast day can create a softer light.
If there are dark shadows, you may want to consider using flash. That’s right - flash during the day, not night. Look on the ground or the vertical surfaces through your camera to check for any dark shadows you might want to get rid of.
Perfect your audio
The location of your phone’s microphone is one of the most important things to be aware of when recording videos. You can usually locate your phone's microphones either on the bottom of the phone or by its cameras. Take note of this, so that when you are recording you can make sure that the microphones are facing your subject. Also double-check that nothing is blocking the microphone inputs, like your fingers or a phone case, otherwise your sound may be muffled.
You also need to put your device on mute, or in silent or airplane mode, before you start filming. You don't want to interrupt your own video with a ringtone notifying you of a new message, or with the vibrations of an incoming phone call!
If you’re looking to elevate your video’s sound above what a phone can capture, consider utilizing an external microphone. These can be attached to your phone and are the most effective option for improving your phone’s quality of sound-capturing. When purchasing an external microphone, make sure that you buy one that is compatible with your phone. For example, iPhones require Lightning connectors, and Android phones require a USB-C port. There are also different kinds of external microphones - if you want to capture the sound of a person speaking in your videos, for instance, look for a directional microphone, or "shotgun" mic.
Finally, your recording environment matters. If possible, pick a quiet space. This will minimize audio disturbances. You may not always have time to sound-proof your recording environment, but, if you do, you can improve the acoustics by setting it up so that the sounds that you want to capture will be amplified, and those that you don't want will be dampened. You can avoid capturing an "echo-y" sound in your video by recording in a carpeted room with the door closed. A lot of podcasters are even recording in their closets nowadays to get the best sound - whatever it takes!
Experiment with the aesthetics
One of the best ways to produce eye-catching phone videos is to play around with their aesthetics. You can do this first by finding different perspectives to shoot from. Capturing mobile videos from unconventional angles will make them more striking to the viewer, because you create the illusion of greater depth or height. Atypical angles can also make your subject stand out, since most phone videos are shot either straight-on or from a bird's eye view.
Try to utilize reflections in your videos as well. There's a reason why people are generally intrigued by images of the sky, mountains, or buildings reflected in a pool of water -- the human eye is drawn to reflections. So look for opportunities to utilize them in videos! Here are some great places to look for reflections: puddles, ponds, lakes, rivers, mirrors, sunglasses, drinking glasses, and metallic surfaces.
You should also consider the overall color scheme. When you’re choosing an outfit to wear in your video, try to pick bright, solid colored clothing items. Also make sure to select pieces that will not blend in with your choice of background! As for what’s behind you in your video, find a room that features color-coordinated decor. With this, subtle colors are also best, so your viewers are not distracted by what is behind you. Finally, if possible, try to coordinate your outfit with your background, so you can create an overall cohesive color palette within your video.
Develop your editing skills
Editing may seem intimidating at first, but there are some simple things that you can do to make your video look better. (Pro tip: make sure to keep your original file and edit copies that you save separately.)
Cropping is a helpful tool to help focus the attention of the video. You can adjust the focus of your video by adjusting the corners of your video in a way that you see fit.
You can also change your video’s brilliance, exposure, saturation, highlights, warmth and tint to create and add contrast to your video’s light and color. Increasing highlights can give you more contrast, but be careful not to let the brightest parts become overexposed. To give your video a more vibrant look, increase its saturation. Filters are another helpful tool to add contrast by giving your video a different color effect.
Now put these skills to use!
By perfecting each of these elements - your camera set-up, lighting, audio, aesthetics and editing - you will be able to produce high-quality videos using just your smartphone! We encourage you to play around with each, in order to achieve any goals you may have with producing your own product videos. It will not only help you elevate your outreach, but will provide your business with a wealth of beautiful content.
Caroline Baetkey and Kayla Park contributed to this post.
Nailea Ayala Sahagún
Nailea is an accomplished public relations professional with experience in education, digital marketing, and multicultural communications. Prior to joining Presidio, Nailea worked with Fortune 500 companies like The Lincoln Motor Company and McDonald’s on media relations, focusing on top–tier Hispanic media. Nailea was also involved in community outreach efforts for statewide campaigns and local measures. Additionally, Nailea holds over 7 years of experience working with school districts in Southern California. Today, Nailea leads Presidio's creative team and handles content creation, social media management, and video production for our clients.
Caroline is a rising senior at UCLA, where she is pursuing a B.A. in History with minors in Film, Television & Digital Media and Digital Humanities. She is experienced in a diverse array of communications, including fashion public relations, influencer outreach, and social media marketing. After she graduates in Spring 2021, Caroline plans on working in PR and Marketing.
Kayla Park is a rising junior at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is passionate about bringing communities together with strategic and compelling communications, and she aspires to be a government and corporate liaison. Kayla is pursuing a B.A. in Public Affairs and plans on graduating in 2022.