Written by Marjorie Dawson

5 Beginners Smartphone Filmmaking Tips

5 Beginners Smartphone Filmmaking Tips

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In this post, I answer five of the most important filmmaking questions that will help kickstart your smartphone video project. Just remember, ‘there is no best smartphone for video’, the one you have should work.

When you start learning how to create your own smartphone movie you end up with a lot of questions. My sound is bad what do I do? My phone is old will it make movies? How do I stop camera shake? Let’s put those right!

What is Orientation? Who Cares?

Orientation is how you hold your camera.

This can be parallel to the horizon or vertical (when you make a call). For simple videos, you will post on Facebook or on a blog, horizontal works best but, for Instagram, you may need to change your approach.

Smartphone Moviemaking. Closeup of a smartphone being used for blogging by a pet blogger

If your smartphone filmmaking is aimed at Instagram, check to see if your camera has the option to shoot in square format. This will keep everything within the frame and nothing will disappear at the sides.

Vertical Video

A new kid on the block is ‘vertical video‘. It’s a hot topic. Why? Because we are all hardwired to shoot and watch video with wide screens and, suddenly, things seem to be changing.

Apps like Snapchat, TikTok and even Instagram are paying attention to video in its upright format, like the photo below). Brands are experimenting with shooting their own video upright and this may help vertical video take off. The vertical format is worth exploring if you blog, vlog or make fast instant movies for immediate use.

It is becoming an established technique, so, if your idea fits with the upright format, give it a try.

Beginner Smartphone Movie Tips
Vertical Video??
  • Check my smartphone movie basics here.

My Videos Are Wobbly

One of the things video watchers notice is how steady your video is. It’s not a conscious thing – we prefer to see video that is mostly stable. So, how do you stop the wobbly video?

You brace yourself against something solid or rest on something to stop your hands from shaking. This might be the edge of a door, a pile of books, the floor, your knee or the side of a building. Anything stronger than you will work well.

If you know your one limitation is a lack of stability, you consider investing in a smartphone tripod. These are small, light and perfect for stabilising shaky video.

Any blogger or vlogger (video blogger) will tell you that a tripod will improve the video you shoot. Tripods also give you the chance to stand in front of the camera and demonstrate a technique or product.

  • Being in front of your smartphone camera gives you authentic human engagement – people relate to you if they see you.

My Sound is Terrible! What do I do?

You have two fast and easy options.

First. If your sound is beyond rescue:

  • Remove the soundtrack.
  • Add music to replace it then,
  • use text to tell your story.

TIP: Licensed music can be purchased from sites like AudioJungle for low prices and this makes sure you are safe from infringing copyright

Second. You may be able to adjust your soundtrack within your app or software to remove outside noise. Check your video editor to see if you can do this.

Can I Edit On My Smartphone?

Yes, you can.

You need to remember that your editing app will be a streamlined version of a computer program but you can trim clips, adjust sound volume, add filters and text.

There are free and paid versions of many popular apps so if my recommendations don’t appeal explore the Apple Store or Google Play.

Here are the three I use:

  • Videoshop
  • Adobe Rush
  • iMovie
See how clearly the slow motion icons appear in this photograph?

These are small but sophisticated apps, so I recommend you invest time in learning to use them. Smartphone filmmaking confidence comes from learning more about your phone.

Once you learn how your chosen app works, you can create short videos for immediate upload.

TIP: Video files are larger than text files. Use a public or event network wherever possible to upload your finished movie to social media..

Is My Phone Too Old For Smartphone Filmmaking?

The first smartphones to shoot videos appeared in 2002 so the chances are your smartphone will have the capacity to shoot and store video clips.

The length of clips will be limited by your phone memory but unless you create a movie more than a minute long, there is a workaround you can use. It’s not instant but it does give you the opportunity to create your own movie.

Here’s what you do.

Option 1

  1. If you fill your phone with clips, download them and then delete them from your ‘phone so you can get back to shooting video.
  2. Then edit and create your movie on your computer or tablet. Then upload to social media, Vimeo or YouTube from within the software.
Pet Lovers Smartphone Movie Tips

Option 2

Your older smartphone may be able to use some of the video apps available.

Check online so see what might work. Options may be limited by phone capacity but unless you investigate you don’t know what will work.

I hope this post helps you with some of the issues that seem to happen to all of us when we start out making movies. If I missed a question you need answering, let me know in the comments.

Marjorie Dawson

Marjorie is a motorbike riding blogger and award winning cat photographer who believes that everyone can shoot and edit wonderful pictures they love regardless of the camera they use.

She is a Professional member of the Cat Writers Association, Kuykendall Image Award winner and published photographer at the Guardian newspaper.

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17 thoughts on “5 Beginners Smartphone Filmmaking Tips”

  1. My videos always end up terrible. I hate the new focus on video honestly. I did get a tripod but most of the time I video on the fly, in a show ring or when the cats do something fun outside so setting it up is a fail. I appreciate the tips on the editors. I have an iPhone so it comes with iMovie – but computer is a windows machine.

    Reply
  2. Great tips – my favorite was the phone photo editors! I also was wondering if you have used a smartphone gimbal stabilizer – I’m searching for one now and consuming everyone’s thoughts on them!

    Reply
    • I have not used one but I think they will be useful if you videoblog or do presentations on the fly. They are worth checking out on Amazon and pro blogs – for reviews etc,

      Reply
  3. I haven’t done much with videos, so I really appreciate these tips! I will look into getting a tripod for my phone.

    Reply
  4. Tripods. So many people hate using them, including me. Yet, they are so indispensable, aren’t they?

    Reply
    • For some videos they are essential but maybe for lighthearted videos they are a help if you wobble but people sometimes manage OK without one.

      Reply
  5. I always love your tips or as I call them, Marjories weekly camera class. I think one of my biggest mistakes is I forget the tripod when doing movies, I never take it with me and should I am sure it will help a lot.

    Reply
  6. Great photo choices for your post, and great advice, too. Personally I like the vertical videos just like seeing life through a keyhole or window – dependant on the size, of course. Perception is everything and sometimes nothing…..
    Purrs
    ERin

    Reply
  7. Great tips! Today’s smartphones actually do a good job of capturing video. We make short ones about the PAWS cats sometimes. 🙂

    Reply
  8. Hmmm…I have some really old and terrible video clips of my now angel furs…maybe I can still edit them to make them view worthy by others than just me.

    Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
    • You should be able to. Depending on your software you may be able to use something called ‘Handbrake’ which is free.

      Reply
  9. Those are some good tips. I might add one more that occurred to me while reading. There are external microphones available for your smartphone if you find your sound quality is not good enough. Honestly though, I bought one for my SLR but only used it once.

    Reply

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