Beginner Smartphone Movie Skills

Create Your Best Cat Adoption Video

Many rescue volunteers think they can’t make a good adoption video to showcase one of their candidates for adoption. I want to help you to make the best cat adoption videos you can. It will take a bit of practice but you can do this! I have updated this psot to help you create videos for TokTok, Instagrm and even Facebook.Let’s do this!

Even if you are a nervous “never made a movie before” newbie video is a skill you can learn and it can help your local cat (or other pet) rescue. You do not need to be a Steven Spielberg or a Jane Campion to make an adoption video that gets your kitten or special needs rescue cat adopted.

If you want to do the best for your rescue, invest a little bit of time in sharpening your smartphone skills. If you can make a ‘phone call, you can make a movie!

Spot in the sun Neko Ngeru Cat Adoption Cafe

Top Adoption Video Tips

First of all, don’t stress about fancy cameras and microphones. You do not need fancy videography equipment grab your smartphone, be fearless, get out there and tell your candidate’s story.

Sketch your story idea down on a piece of paper or smartphone app, then try to tell it as a movie. It’s the best way to practice. Try a puppy getting adopted video, or cute senior cats at a local adoption event.

Use your cat’s unique selling point to brainstorm a short video to introduce your rescue cat(s) to your readers. Spotlight the beauty of adoption of a disabled pet, show a hopeful future.

I have been placed in two BlogPaws® Nose to Nose Finals using an iPhone to shoot movies. If I can achieve this kind of attention, so can you. I created those videos on my own with no extra help, so keep trying.

  • You may be a blogger with close links to a rescue – use those links.

Creating Your Inspirational Pet Video

As your skills develop, start a video project for a rescue. This can spotlight a cat, the rescue itself, or an event family. Whether you are shooting video indoors or outdoors, at home or a rescue, keep in mind the story you want to tell.

I make this sound easy, don’t I? Let’s say it’s easier when you have intentions in place to guide your progress. Try these focus points to start:

  1. Focus on your subject and don’t get distracted by other cats. (It’s easy to do)
  2. Tell their story briefly. Where did the cat come from? A friendly colony cat, a dumped senior?
  3. What are the cat’s hopes for the future? A forever home for their sunset years, a safe home for a kitten? (Use text and voice overs)

Plan a simple narrative. If you need a structure or list of shots you can use our printable sheets for the UK or the USA. Having your plan in visual terms gives you an anchor to guide your story forward.

European A4 StoryBoard pdf

US Letter Size StoryBoard pdf

Pet Movie Post at Dash Kitten

Planning Your First Movie

My tip is to develop a movie idea or story so that when you start work you do not feel as if you are stepping off a cliff,

with no support

and no idea what will happen……….

Let me give you an example of how a bit of forward planning can help you be more prepared to create a movie that makes sense.

My Video Story Plan

Our cat Miranda is a lively tree climber and I knew I wanted to capture her on her fearless climb upwards during the lovely Spring weather. 

I scribbled down a movie idea to capture how much fun Miranda has in our garden. I also knew that if I was out doing some gardening she would be in a tree climbing mood. I filmed some ground shots and camera at the ready I waited for her to climb her favourite tree.

I added some licensed music to give it a cheerful vibe. If you want music AudioJungle has a range of prices, each with an official licence.

For you, the story might be a kitten’s first climb up a cat tree, or a senior venturing onto the catio.

Make Your Rescue Movie

Start making your movie. Don’t worry, or procranstinate. DO IT!

The most important thing I learned when I started mkaing movies seriously? If you wait until you stop feeling nervous you will never make a movie. Start it while you are scared and kwwp going.

  • Remember to shoot more vieo than you need so you have plenty of clips for your story. 
  • Edit your movie. Just keep it simple, join your clips together. Add a little bit of text with crucial rescue contact details and then SHARE for your rescue cat or dog.
  • If you are on Youtube or Instagram use their music. Just remember you can’t export the music.
  • If you are like me, you will start off thinking that your movie is not very good but don’t be too hard on yourself.
  • Your videography techniques improve with every movie you make. Keep working and keep sharing your videos.

Need Video Rescue Ideas?

Not sure where to start with your practice videos? Let me share some tips:

  • Use your own pet as a practice subject.
  • Show three tips to cope with an abandoned kitten using rescue kittens and text on the screen.
  • Create a small pet adoption commercial for social media and who knows, you might end up featured on the Dodo funny animal videos.

Remember, don’t stress about getting it right, get filming. With a few video camera skills, you can tell an inspiring story.

Add Static Images Using the Ken Burns Effect

Smartphone pictures can be inserted between your clips. You can also add printed pictures once they are scanned into a computer. After you add them, use the ‘Ken Burns‘ effect. Let me tell you a bit about this simple but clever visual tool that allows you to use photographs and still keep your movie flowing.

The Ken Burns effect is a panning (moving across) and zooming (moving closer) effect used in video production. It will help you create the best pet adoption video for your rescue candidates by letting you include static images that appear to be moving even if they aren’t.

People expect a movie to do just that – move. The Ken Burns effect is another small but effective tool in your armoury as a smartphone video maker.

NOTE: The name derives from extensive use of the technique by American document maker Ken Burns.

Cat posing in front of a smartphone
Sometimes your cat will play to the camera!

A Video to Address a Rescue Event or Challenging Issue

If you find an issue arises repeatedly for your rescue, work with other volunteers to create a video for your Facebook page and other social media.

Have an ‘Adoptapalooza’ coming up? Showcase the cats available, spotlight the seniors and disabled cats.

  • You could create a movie on keeping community cats warm; raw feeding tips, or handling a lost kitten.
  • Do a short promo for your rescue’s longest resident who needs a home. Keep it brief because that way it will work on a wider range of social media channels.
  • If you aim for Instagram coverage – shoot SQUARE.

How Do I Edit My Pet Video?

Editing takes a bit of practice but if you can do it on your computer if the phone screen seems too small.  Look at your clips. You will see what ones you like, drag those to your timeline and start fooling around.

If you need editing help YouTube has lots of videos so there will be one for your smartphone app. Just take it slowly. No-one was born knowing how to make movies so don’t be hard on yourself.

If you need editing help YouTube has lots of videos so there will be one for your smartphone app. Just take it slowly. No-one was born knowing how to make movies so don’t be hard on yourself.

When You Need A Video Fast!

When you need a short video very quickly, our favourite instant movie app is iMovie’s ‘Trailer Template’ function. or the free version of Adobe Express.

A post on feline probiotics used up the time I had so I used a short iMovie trailer template for extra sparkle. The template consists of a pre-assembled sequence of placeholders for video and still shots. There is space for text inserts and an uplifting track perfectly timed for the template.

For a rescue volunteer, a movie is something you can plan, and incorporate into your schedule when time allows, or when you have an event to spotlight.

OK, I’m Ready What do I do?

  • If you feel confident start shooting. If you just want to go ahead and learn as you wing it – go ahead, that works too!
  • You can check our video shooting basics for the skills some an extra confidence boost. The basics post is helpful and packed with nitty-gritty advice.
  • We have smartphone app advice for beginners here if you need them too.

Our best advice ever?  

Get out there and film stuff. 

Learn to hold your smartphone as a camera, and how to keep your rescue pet centred in the frame. See if you can do a close-up. Have fun and laugh when you get it wrong, then try again and do it better,

Your video is not Gone with the Wind (3hrs 58mins) it is a message to your potential adopters and fosters. A short, shareable and meaningful message you can share on your social media channels to make a big impression for your rescue.

Now tell me, what kind of rescue video are you going to create today?

22 thoughts on “Create Your Best Cat Adoption Video”

  1. I’m dying to do a video on agility. None of my creatures will willingly participate properly (in public) and it is hard to get a good set of footage. I’m getting bits and pieces at a lot of shows. Eventually, hopefully, I’ll get enough to do something with it.

    • That’s how I would do it! Your aim – Agility. Your method – My Dogs, how they learn, how they improve and how they succeed!

  2. I need to do more dog training videos! I’m thinking about participating in the 100 days of dog training challenge so maybe that will be motivation.

  3. Making more videos (effective) is one of our goals this year. We’ve done simple videos, but we’re ready to tackle something a little more involved. We couldn’t find the Super 8 app on our iPhone. Is it under another name?

  4. Wow, this was super informative. I really know so little about video, but it’s something I would love to learn. Thank you for sharing your expertise and giving me lots of food for thought!

  5. You have inspired me! Now all I need to figure out is how to be more stealthy because every time I sneak up on one of The Tribe of Five to capture a purrfect moment they wait just until I’m ready to hit the button and zoom, off they go! I need to try some videos, I might have better luck!

  6. Many great tips here. I am still struggling with photographing The Tribe of Five. They have the uncanny ability to sit still in a perfect position and move, just when I’m ready to take the shot. Perhaps I need to take a class on how to be stealthier! These video tips were very helpful and encouraged me to do more videos. Thanks!

  7. I use a camera for all and still trying to understand everything, like I can put a water mark through my camera onto all pics and video and have tried like 10 times and still cannot do it LOL. I would love to be able to do better pics and movies like you, maybe by the end of the year I might have managed something – I need to learn more from you

  8. My problem is editing. I don’t have an iPhone and I’m lost with editing software. I know video is the way to go.

  9. I love seeing how far you have come with video. It’s truly inspiring and your videos are always so professionally done. Love Harvey’s video endorsement of Humarian!

    When I take video I kind of just do it on the spot – I need to take your advice and do a storyboard or at least have some kind of plan.

  10. Thanks so much for the great tips! I’ve taken away so much and will probably need to reference in the future as a reminder!

  11. I have raw video that I’m REALLY excited about sharing … but having never edited a video before – the task feels gargantuan. I don’t have a smart phone either – so I don’t have access to many of the apps available to everyone else.

  12. Problem with these smart phone thingies is, the phones are smarter than my peep!


    But seriously, my friends, you’ve given everyone some REALLY GREAT pointers here on makin’ videos. Excellent points, for sure. PURRS.

  13. Excellent advice, and well sure do make it easy for beginners to get to grips with things….
    Toodle pips and purrs

  14. I am planning on starting with videos in the future but it always seems so overwhelming. You make it sound doable and easy 🙂 I’ll really have to just get out there and film stuff 😀

  15. We love your video information ! We did some short videos, with iPhone and iMovie, and you’re so right : no need of fancy equipment to begin, just do it ! Purrs

  16. We love your video information, we just never seem to get around to doing it. If you were a dog blogger you would have won.


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