Written by Marjorie Dawson

Smartphone Video Skills for Cat Lovers

Smartphone Video Skills for Cat Lovers

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I have gathered a series of video editing posts for cat lovers and bloggers. I cover the video shooting basics to give you confidence. [Revised October 2018]

This advice works for every movie making pet lover. As I run a cat blog, cat videos are our ‘thing’ right but I want you to be the unstoppable movie maker whatever your pet.

Because of this my focus is on building skills and learning for everyone. You may even have a chance to be a youtube star and carve your own pet video niche online if you practice.

Smartphone Movie Tips

I suggest you check out this collection put together to show you the basic filmmaking skills you can easily grab for yourself. These are not just ‘film school’ skills. I try hard to look at everything from the beginner’s perspective because everyone was a beginner once and welcomes video tips.

It is also meant to encourage you to adopt the attitude of a good film director from the start. After all even JJ Abrams had to start somewhere, maybe he used a smartphone just like you!

Smartphone movies cat

We have even created a special eBook to give your moving making a boost. Check our ‘How to Make Your Pet an Internet Movie Star’. The book in packed with tips on how to make a good video and add photos and music. With this, you can how to make a movie at home! [50% of the proceeds helps Place for Cats, our adopted New York foster network].

Video Skills For Pet Lovers – Tips List

  • Smartphone Tricks – Our absolute beginners How To suggestions.
  • How to Edit – Make your Pet movie the best you can.
  • Our #DKVideo Challenge collection. See how bloggers rose to our 2017 challenge.
  • Video Tips for Rescues – Cool tips on making a rescue pet more adoptable.
Smartphone movies cat and dog

How We Used Our Own Video Skills – Inspiration

  • Our Raindrop Video Presentation
  • Our Tabcat Cat Locator video
  • Our Promotional Launch video for Neko-Ngeru Cat Adoption Cafe

If you only have a smartphone, this is great for movie making. We used a combination of iPhone6 and GoPro for these videos! So check up on what skills you need and jump in pet people!

Popular videos that hit the spot may not be perfect but they have one thing in common, they tell a story. We need the basic storytelling skills and then we can fly. Read on to find out how.

As films shot on smartphones are a huge part of social media for personal stories and rescues, let us help you with that right now. Take it step by step with us. We hope we can encourage everyone who loves their own cats to make a movie and have some fun. Let’s have some pocket movie fun!

How to Make a Video On YOUR Phone

Even as a newbie you can achieve a high level of video excellence when you make a short movie with a smartphone. Smartphone video production is not scary, you just take it step by step!

Plenty of people do beginner smartphone movie how-to’s, but they often miss the most basic steps a newbie cat movie maker might need. If you need very basic help with your pet movies, this is the place to start. It took us a while to learn, and now we want to show and share the best and most focused tips. That way you start off by putting your best foot forward from the very start.

Remember, your movie will be for your own pleasure and sharing with family and friends when you start. There is no pressure, just the pleasure of showing off your pet. You might want to show off a new kitten and make people laugh, showcase a foster to help with adoption, or memorialise a loved cat when they have crossed the Bridge. Your smartphone will do this, modern products contain a DSLR quality camera phone that works perfectly for you.

  • You are not looking for perfection, you want the confidence to make loving memories. Ready to take a breath and take those very first steps?
SmartMovie Image for Newbie Post

Learning Takes Time

The first and most important thing for your smartphone filmmaking kit is patience. A cat stalks its prey patiently, you study your smartphone apps in the same way. Research has shown that you can learn anything at any age and it takes the same amount of time. [Real science that, not senior cat wisdom!]

Kid’s aren’t tech wizards. They just apply themselves and work and work at it until they can use technology. You can do that. Turn your smartphone on, find the movie-making app – and learn all you can. Mobile movie making is something we can all do.

How to hold iPhones for Video Recording

There should be a printed or downloadable manual, or an online video about holding your phone, its ‘orientation’.  If you need a couple of examples, we shot our Duckling movie by holding our phone upright (portrait mode). We turned our smartphone horizontally (landscape mode) in our fun Tabcat movie!

TIP A number of popular smartphone video recording apps including IGTV (Instagram) and Facebook Live allow you to hold your phone in the portrait position.

Beginner Smartphone Movie Tips

Beginner Smartphone Users Will Wobble

Everyone wobbles, so don’t sweat the small stuff! It happens. TIP Brace yourself against a wall, a doorway, the back of a chair.  A little movement isn’t so bad. Don’t give up. Point your ‘phone at the cat(s) and start practising. Don’t let something small like worry about a wobble stop you from making pet movies, and you don’t need a fancy smartphone rig either!

TIP The iPhone (6 upwards) has an exposure lock. Let’s see how this can help.

An iPhone will automatically focus and check the exposure of your image. This is a big help for a quick still shot but when you are recording one person, or a pet it might make your clips look jerky so turn on the autofocus. Here’s how:

  • Lightly press your iPhone screen
  • The words AE/AF LOCK and a yellow square will appear (they remain on the screen)
  • Shoot your movie clips
  • Lightly press the screen again to clear the autofocus from the iPhone

Make Sure You have Good Light

Smartphones are called smart for a reason BUT they do need some help to do a good job. Try to practice outside in natural light. If it’s an indoor pet movie, try working inside near a window, maybe while kitty is enjoying a sun puddle. Just make sure your subject is relaxed!

Pet Lovers Smartphone Movie Tips

The Sound in Your Smart Movie

To get clear and clean audio, even as a beginner, you need to either have the smartphone close enough to record your pet or person or, invest in a portable microphone.

TIP: If you are recording something you will only get one chance at, and you definitely don’t want to be interrupted, then make sure your phone is turned to flight mode.

Aeroplane mode, aeroplane mode, flight mode, offline mode, or standalone mode is a setting available on many smartphones, portable computers, and other electronic devices that, when activated, suspends radio-frequency signal transmission by the device, thereby disabling Bluetooth, telephony, and Wi-Fi – Wikipedia

Dash Kitten Logo

Editing On Your Smartphone Movie

Take your time when you are learning to edit your movie. Words like cutting and trimming are also used when people refer to smartphone movie editing. You can do a lot with phone editing apps but if you are not used to the small screen but it can be a challenge for new editors.

I recommend downloading your first clips to a computer and editing using a larger screen if you can. Use the software that comes with your computer. Become familiar with the software, and what you can do.

If you are on the move and need to edit using your ‘phone screen, familiarise yourself with its functions and limitations before you start working. It will take away a lot of the stress if you can create a short impression of a pet show or a cat doing agility trials confident you will be able to edit your clips.

Practice People Practice!!!

No one learns to drive in five minutes, and no-one becomes a good movie maker fast either. Sit down with your smartphone (any type, any price bracket) and play. Take a video of your knee, learn to zoom in on a cat’s whiskers, point your smartphone outside, inside, upside down. Practice = confidence, even for a nervous newbie.

OK, fearless explorers. Take a breath before you go rushing off! Remember, none of us is Peter Jackson filming Lord of the Rings, but we can appreciate the gift of amazing technology to make our own wonderful cat movies. We may be using what seems like ‘rocket science’ but confidence will inspire us all to face a fear and fly that rocket to the moon and back.

Change a Pet's Life Day graphic of cats asleep

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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6 thoughts on “Smartphone Video Skills for Cat Lovers”

  1. Thanks for writing all of this down! these tips are not just for making Pet Videos! I could use then for my job too!
    Love Barb

  2. Yay! Videos are my next project – and you’ve shared so much great information on how to do them! Thank you!

  3. Another fabulous post guys, thank mew fur all the tips, mew’ll see from our video’s we’ve been using imovie and putting to use all your great advice – we couldn’t have done it without mew – thanks!

    Big festive purrs

    Basil & Co xox


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