Beginner Smartphone Movie Skills

Creating Cat Adoption Videos That Get Results

Are you a volunteer for a rescue? Do you have a smartphone? Consider using it to create videos for cat adoptions. These short videos can be more effective than simple photographs in finding homes for cats in need. By showcasing their personalities and unique characters, your videos could make a huge difference in getting them into forever homes quickly.

While you might feel that video creation is beyond your skills, I think you are wrong (sorry!) In this post, let me introduce you to the idea of a confident movie maker – You.

I am including a lot of handsfree information in this post, not because I expect you to stand in front of the camera (yes it scares me too!) but because a tripod or stand lets you work with your rescue cats and worry less about wobbly shots.

Let’s get started.

Cat and tired owner shooting a video
Wake Up and Grab your Smartphone (Thanks LarisikStefania)

How This Post Will Help You

These ideas are for cat rescue workers, cat bloggers, and cat people everywhere. I hope they help. If you have any problems or ideas you can always email me.

  • Hands-free movie making is something every smartphone user can do.
  • You do not need to be an ‘expert’ in anything, you will grow in confidence and skill every time you create a shot.
  • You can present in front of a camera, (check our ‘filming yourself’ tips) or stand behind and showcase the cats. The choice is yours.
  • All you need a smartphone, a tripod or support of some kind, and a dash of determination to get the job done.

Working On Your Own

Looking upwards at a cat sat in a kitchen
Consider all the angles before leaping into action.

Know the story you want to tell‘.

First Tips for Making A Rescue Video

What is the subject of your video? Once you decide make a list of shots you want to try and get for your video. If you are introducing a rescue cat you might note down a list like this:

  1. An introduction e.g. Who are you? Introduce the rescue?
  2. Introduce your rescue cat and give a brief story.
  3. Share adoption details (on screen text or/and spoken).
  4. Clear and short contact details for potential adopters so they can act quickly.

Make a mental note of the kind of shots that will bring your video to life – things like a kitty high paw, a cute head tilt, or kitty jumping skills. Remember this is only a short film, a snapshot, and you can practice as much as you want to. No one sees your movie until it is finished.

Cat mistakes Can Make your video better!
Sometimes mistakes can add charm!

Plush and Holly’s Movie Challenge

A case study to give you insights into the challenges faced my a fellow video creative.

Rather than write abstract hints and tips, let’s work with a real-life case study from our colleague Holly who runs a helpful cat blog for feline parents called Life and Cats. She has a project that will be of great benefit to her readers and one that will be greatly enhanced by video.

I want to film myself grooming Plush for a grooming guide post but I can’t figure out how to do it and still have hands to groom. I don’t have a tripod or phone stand.

Holly

For a tutorial movie like this, Holly has many equipment options to choose from. Each of these products will give a different view of the grooming process, so a lot will depend on what Holly wants to film.

  • A head strap camera mount for front facing shots.
  • A chest mounted holder for cat level closeups
  • A tripod sited some distance away for wide shots
  • A Gorillapod with flexible legs that can be attached at various locations and heights. Flexible and versatile a Gorillapod brand tripod might stretch the budget but it can be an investment as this tripod allows you to position a smartphone almost anywhere.
  • My affiliate link for Joby Gorillapod goes to the US store with a discount of up to 20% on tripods (except new models)
cat looking upwards out of a window
Consider equipment options before taking the first step.

Which movie equipment works best?

After looking at the equipment suggestions for Holly, I decided that a tripod would be most useful. It can be positioned for both distance, and downward angled shots as well as close-ups grooming Plush.

A tripod gives a professional level of stability which is important to anyone demonstrating techniques for others to follow. To focus on details Holly can incorporate close up shots later. Her smartphone can be positioned in landscape or portrait mode. A Joby Gorillapod is on my own shopping list to go with my current single leg Manfrotto monopod.

joby official

Stability does not demand the high-end price tags that you often see on DSLR equipment. You can find a wide selection of budget smartphone tripods on Amazon or support a shop local to you, if you prefer. A basic model might be quite heavy but very stable which is an advantage. You can then invest in something lighter and a bit more expensive if you feel you will use a tripod on a regular basis. I am an affiliate for Manfrotto and I use their monopod to steady my DSLR while I am on the move.

Film Yourself Hands-Free With A SmartPhone

  • Practice your position in front of the camera. Is the rescue cat you are showing cute. Are you able to handle the kitten confidently? Shooting a cat product? Can it be seen clearly? Can you add close-ups later?
  • Speak clearly but don’t worry about your voice or accent. I believe my voice is terrible but my friends disagree.
  • Make a note of the points you can to speak about. Then practice out loud so you can fall over yourself before you do a recording! After a while what you want to say settles in your mind and you can record with more confidence. Pauses are better than ums and ers.
  • If you make a mistake keep recording, pause, take a breath and start again. You can edit out the tries that don’t work.
  • Be confident. Relax, you can do this.
Filming Hands-Free

A Sample Movie Storyboard

For Holly and her cat grooming video, a movie plan or storyboard might look like this.

Holly might add a little more, or change the focus but each movie needs is a starting point, a basic outline to focus on:

  1. Introduce kitty Plush. A few words about his story or why he needs grooming.
  2. Showing close-ups of the grooming tools, add text labels for clarity.
  3. Grooming Plush (longer shots or a sequence of clips?)
  4. Several close-up shots to emphasise important points.
  5. Final summary. Encourage aspiring groomers with a quick review and mention a printable of tips included in the blog post.
Hands-Free smartphone 2

Lighting top tip

I know that budget-conscious movie makers will not want to commit to expensive light setups so plan to film in natural or bright light as much as you can. A clear video can be lightened in your movie software, or smartphone movie editing app.

  • TIP Think from the point of view of your audience. What do they want to see?
Manfrotto Official

Your Own Movie Storyboard

Do I need fancy equipment to make a storyboard or plan? No, you don’t. A pen and paper, or a planner page will work. Anything to help you brainstorm ideas and shots for your own hands-free movie. Keep it simple.

These prompts might help you focus:

  • What do you want to to do?
  • Spotlight a special cat or kitten? Do they love a lap? How will you show their character? Was their rescue a dramatic story?
  • Do you want to highlight a fundraiser?
  • Will a single static presentation tell your story with a few closeups?
  • Do you need to get outside, up on your feet, show a place or event?

Remember that unless your story is utterly compelling (and it could be), people will not want to sit and watch you talk for very long. Be prepared to break up your presentation with different video clips to keep their attention.

Before You Start…

You now have ideas, a focus and some budget equipment tips. You can do this. The work is your own and with a bit of practice, the end result will be something you will be proud to upload online.

What will your next hands-free movie be about?


26 thoughts on “Creating Cat Adoption Videos That Get Results”

  1. This is an incredible post and I’m saving it for future reference. Your tips are going to be so helpful.

    Reply
  2. Fantastic tips! Looking forward to seeing what folks film! I have both a tripod and Gorillapod, but just need to remember to use them (instead of bracing myself against rails, mailboxes, cars, etc.)! LOL! Pinning your post to share!

    Reply
  3. These seem like great tips for helping with a hands-free video. I’m looking forward to seeing all the videos people make!

    Reply
  4. Great recommendations. I recently purchased a tripod for my iPhone and hope to begin using it in the future.

    Reply
  5. These are great tips! I get so nervous about doing video that I do my best to avoid it all all costs. LOL I hate editing and I feel so unnatural on camera.. BUT you are so right that it can all just be edited out and fixed later, or reshot if necessary. There’s really nothing to be nervous about (especially when you’re doing it solo bc no one else sees anything other than the final product anyway!)

    Reply
  6. Yes! I love that we’re all learning this piece together – I have been a little intimidated by all of the video tech that I just don’t know. I invested in a tripod and some good equipment and we’re on this journey too! I love the hands-free concept – and it makes for much more natural filming!

    Reply
  7. I definitely need to invest in a Gorillapod. I can never get a photo of me doing anything with or to the girls, or video either. It always comes out a blurry mess.

    Reply
  8. Hubby is the video pro in this house! So we are lucky – we are two. But I often do the tutorials on my own. I find lighting by FAR to be the most important part!

    Reply
  9. I recently got a tripod and a remote, but I am so shy about actually appearing on videos – it still helps when I’m taking videos of Matilda painting, as I don’t have to be looking at the screen, which makes it harder for her to focus.

    Reply
  10. You in my eyes a genius when it comes to cameras and I am still plodding along like an old lady LOL but I do have a tripod it came with my camera so am going to this summer when in the park take it with me and start practicing, One day I will get it right. Thanks as always for the great tips

    Reply
  11. Marjorie, this is fantastic! These tips are great for so much more than cat videos, really any kind of video you need to produce. I got a tripod for my birthday about a year ago and it’s been the best tool, I use it all the time for stationary videoing. I’m intrigued by the other tools & holders you mention too, I haven’t heard of some of them. Sharing.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    Reply
  12. Someday I’ll get a tripod! I’ve gotten pretty creative to record some of my pet videos – lots of stacking random objects so I can rest my phone on them, and on more than one occasion I’ve taped my smart phone to my vacuum cleaner (it was the perfect height for what I was recording). The things a blogger will do to get that perfect shot!

    Reply
  13. Great tips, you make it sounds so easy! I would always be flying solo if I ever decided to try and make a movie. I’m afraid the most I can manage to date is pressing the record button on my phone!

    Reply
  14. We need a tripod. Bought one a few years ago, but went with a budget version which broke in about a month. Next time I plan to invest a bit more in a good one.

    Happy 2019!

    Reply
    • Oh wow. I am trying out a couple of budget ones for beginners but maybe with experience a better one is the way to go?

      Reply
  15. Thank you, what a nice post. We look forward to seeing the grooming video success. We are sure there are gadgets out there for all circumstances, especially the solo artiste who wants to make the best of themselves and their companions.
    Lots of purrs
    ERin

    Reply
  16. What a great tutorial! Bravo!

    We bet there will be some awesome hands-free cat videos as a result. 🙂

    Reply

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