Beginner Smartphone Movie Skills

How To Make a Movie with a Compact Camera

Do you have a compact camera and envy the movies your fellow bloggers produce with a smartphone? Do you wish you could make a movie with a compact camera that you can be proud of?

If you are on a limited budget, or life hasn’t given you enough dollars to invest in a smartphone, just now, don’t despair, you can create movies you will love showing off with your basic compact.

In this post, I cover a few important newbie tips, then take you through downloading your clips and editing software to create your first movie. There is some news on the free editing software included in the Windows 10 photo upgrade too.

  • I have included a helpful editing tutorial video as extra help.

The first few times you edit everything will seem complicated and a bit overwhelming but stick with it. As you invest time in learning your software your videos will get better.

Confession. My first video wasn’t edited and was 20 minutes solid of the resident Siamese in our rental property. If I can improve so can you!

Compact Video screen

Compact Camera Movie Starter Tips

  • If you have a manual find it and read it (seriously it helps!)
  • Find out the ‘Movie’ setting on your camera. These may be different from the settings for a still picture.
  • Make sure your batteries are fully charged
  • Be comfortable holding your camera. Tuck in your arms to stop any wobble.
  • Try to keep your subject in the centre of the frame.
  • Don’t use the digital zoom.

Even a cheap digital camera with video recording capacity will have a screen on the back. Get used to watching the subject of your movie here.

As a beginner moviemaker, I suggest you stand still or rotate slowly on the spot as you follow your cat (or dog) when they move or pose. Keeping your camera steady and looking where you are going takes practice.

Blue compact camera

Don’t use the digital zoom

I have this in the tips list so why repeat it?

Unless you know how to zoom in smoothly, a shot will not impress your viewers. A digital zoom shot magnifies even small movements which risk ruining your shot. With practice, you will learn to ‘zoom with your feet’.

If you have an opportunity to catch an amazing shot and do a fast zoom keep going but review your clip later. If it looks terrible then edit out the ‘zoomed’ portion and keep the clips on either side.

Download Video to Your Computer

Most point and shoot cameras do not have an editing function so you need to download your video clips to a desktop computer or laptop by using a cable. One end will have a USB port, and the other will attach to your camera like this :

Compact Camera with Cable

When you join the camera to your computer the software will ‘find’ your camera and ask you if you want to download the video clips. This might take a moment. Be patient but if nothing happens, unplug and try again.

The computer will download your clips to a media folder. Where this folder is depends on if you use Windows or a Mac, so take your time and locate your video clips.

Your downloaded clips will then need to be imported into a video editor either by dragging them into your open editing program, or navigating to the media folder on your computer from your editing program.

FOR WINDOWS PC USERS: File Explorer has a quick trick for searching for different types of documents. Open up File Explorer and navigate to the location you want to search. You can search your entire PC by selecting the “This PC” entry in File Explorer’s navigation pane.

FOR MAC USERS: By default, the photos and videos you import into the Photos library in the Pictures folder on your Mac. When you first use Photos, you create a new library or select the library that you want to use.


Editing for Compact Camera Users

After your clips are downloaded to your computer, compact camera users are on the same level as every other blogger, pet lover or rescue worker.

Everyone who is editing movies on a computer does it in the same way and is learning the same skills.

For the compact user, there may be a few extra steps because you don’t edit within your device but you can create movies as good as everyone else so don’t let your lack of a smartphone or DSLR camera discourage you from creating great movies.

Check here for my ‘how to edit‘ post

Video Resolution from a Compact Camera

The resolution of compact camera video depends on the camera’s age, the brand and the settings available.

You may need to check a company web site for your model but once you have this remember two things:

  • Work at the best resolution your camera has to offer. This may reduce the amount of video you can shoot but your movie quality will be the best you can make it – check your camera settings.
  • You do not need an absolutely total pin-sharp video for sharing online. People will often forgive a video that is not perfect.
  • Do try for good sound this is a big help whatever your video quality.
Cat and Compact Camera editor

Video Editing Software for Compact Users

For Mac users, the iMovie editor is already installed, but Windows did not have its own video editor until recently.

The Fall Creators Upgrade means that anyone using Windows 10 will be able to do basic editing in the Photos app. I also include some free editing apps at the bottom of this post for those when your skills being to develop beyond the basics.

The reimagined Photos app now gives you the ability to add filters, text, 3D effects – and soon full 3D objects – and even digital ink to your photos and video clips for great storytelling complete with soundtracks, themes, and transitions.

Windows Blog 10 Report

As a new user you do not need to be an instant expert. Your aim is basic skills like these:

  • Joining clips together
  • Trimming clips to the right length
  • Rearranging clips into an order you want
  • Adding text
  • Adding music
Coffee Selfie

Take a Break

Editing software looks completely different from word processing and photo editing applications and it’s easy, as a beginner, to spend too long struggling to get to grips with some part of the moviemaking process.

If you have imported and edited it is probably time to take a break and rest your eyes and mind. Go back with a fresh eye after a break.

The Compact Camera Users Manifesto

Compact camera users should not feel left out by the more sophisticated devices that fill the market. Their devices work, they are legitimate tools of the moviemaking trade. Never be discouraged by what you imagine as a lack of skill. we are all on a learning jourey, so enjoy the ride.

If a compact has a video option it can create movies, then you can share your work on social media channels where your friends, supporters and sponsors hang out waiting to be dazzled by your work.

Nothing stands between an aspiring movie maker and their audience. It takes persistence, skills you can learn, and the belief your movies will be as good as everyone else’s. Now go forth compact camera users and conquer the world.

Compact Camera Front
My own 2013 Samsung compact

If you have any questions, pop them in the comments and I will do my best to help. I want you to make movies with your compact of camera.

Free Editing Software Resources

If you do not have Windows 10 yet there are free video editors:

Each software has YouTube video tutorials to get you started. Each of them will have a screen that will look similar to the timeline layout I use in iMovie. Don’t expect to understand everything at once – it takes a couple of run-throughs and a few mistakes but suddenly you will start to underestand wht is happening

Smartphone Guide iMovie
1 – Media 2 – Preview screen 3 -Video timeline 4 – Music track 5 – Presentation Options

14 thoughts on “How To Make a Movie with a Compact Camera”

  1. Thanks for the very basic tips. I am a beginner with a new iphone, so I can suddenly do a lot more. First, I should buy a tripod since my hands seem to make the video too shakey. Then I can also video myself. Editing has been a challenge. It’s been a while, but I think I was using movie maker. I liked that you listed some free editors. I don’t have windows 10 yet at home, but if windows 10 is easier, then maybe I should edit any films I make on my work computer. You make creating videos sound so easy! Great post!

  2. I need to put some time aside to make movies again. I love having movies. But lately, I’ve been giving my all attention to doing things with Cookie and keeping her safe while doing all that … trying to take movies would detract from that.

  3. Fantastic tips and now I know why my movies are always wobbly also LOL – have saved the links for editing and am going to teach myself more and maybe one day I will be the expert.

    Hugs and thanks

  4. These are great tips for people on a budget! I do not own a compact camera, but if I did I would try this out!

  5. I’ve sort of given up my compact camera in favor of my iPhone, however, now I’m encouraged to experiment further. The editing sounds a bit overwhelming but I usually do well with Mac programs.

  6. Wow. Thanks for these compact camera movie making tips. I totally forgot about my compact digital camera until reading your post. I’ll have to look into those free editing resources for editing. I’m still learning the ropes!

  7. Great Post, Thanks for the movie maker tips. I wish I knew more about not using digital zoom back about 20 years ago when digital cameras first came out. Some of my pictures were pretty much ruined because of that. I appreciated the compact camera users video tips as well. (From Dachshund Station)

  8. Great tips as always! You are right on with remembering to take a break when editing. I get so involved in video editing, I sometimes forget to move! It’s great to come back after a break…sometimes you see something that you didn’t when in that edit trance! Great illustrative shots, too!

    Thanks for hosting the Pet Parade. We joined in again this week!

  9. You always bring us great advice and easy to cope with posts on what is a technical and daunting subject if taken seriously. We rely on our telephone camera as the point and shot one blew up. Still, both are complex enough and we still haven’t mastered all there is on the phone. One for sure is finding out needs to be fun, and your posts are just that.


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