Beginner Smartphone Movie Skills

Shoot Cat Videos on Your Smartphone

Who needs fancy smartphones? Create amazing social media content, heartfelt charity appeals, and adorable pet rescue videos with the ‘phone in your pocket! Here’s how to make impactful short videos using any device. [Updated 2024]

Video is a fresh direction for bloggers of all kinds and you can see how successful short videos can be be on sites like TikTok or Instagram’s Reels. You can create everything from a short clip of a cat being silly, to a teaser trailer or a detailed product showcase.

The following tips and tricks work for almost every phone! To prove it I created a smartphone short about a rescue duckling that became a Blogpaws® Pet Bloggers’ award finalist on my iPhone 4S. My ‘phone wasn’t the fanciest , but if I could do it then, you can create videos with your smartphone whatever the brand or its age RIGHT NOW.

Our video “Arthur’s Movie” was shot on both an iPhone 4S and GoPro, then loaded into iMovie and edited using an iMac and the trailer option.

Oh FIV+ Arthur? He found his forever home with a loving volunteer and passed in 2022.

Is There a Learning Curve?

Of course there is, but with a dash of common sense and willingness to jump right in and have fun, you can make a smartphone movie on your iPhone or Android. There are free apps such as iMovie, which comes with every iPhone, or Kinemaster (Android/iPhone) which is free. I use iMovie on my iPhone for all my product showcases.

Anyone can make a smartphone video especially a man with a cat
A basic smartphone takes great movies

Don’t be intimidated by the high production values of professional videographers and vlogs, remember your goal is the best video you can make, for your own audience, with your own device. Don’t compare yourself to someone with a lot more video experience. They may not resonate with your readership, but you will.

Your commitment, enthusiasm and love for your message matter more than a set of fancy lights.

Smartphone Video Know-How

Know the basics about your smartphonephone and how it captures video. Here’s some questions to think abo

  1. How long does it take to turn on your smartphone and start shooting? Each smartphone is different. You need to be ready for that shot!
  2. How much light do you need? Outside is best for natural light but, modern smartphones are great at capturing video clips in low light situations.
  3. Do you know your camera’s video capacity and microphone sensitivity.
  4. Stuck? Read your manual or find a You Tube tutorial for help.
Cat posing in front of a smartphone

If you need one you can add a simple soundtrack. Instgram offers its own range as does YouTube. For music outside the big hitters, we recommend Pixabay for a wide variety of styles, royalty-free under a Creative Commons licence. To invest in reputable licensed music try a site such as AudioJungle.

If you start having fun and want to improve your sound quality, try a lapel microphone. This focuses the sound close to someone talking to your smartphone and reduces background noise.

Be aware of copyright ©. Do not use contemporary pop or indie tunes. Actively look for music that is licensed e.g. Audiojungle or Moby’s site MobyGratis.

What kind of video you are shooting?

Know what your goal is and keep your focus on this. Is it a doggy camping or cat adventuring story; a cat’s adventures, a kitten falling over its paws, a sponsored product review, or a sophisticated travelogue presentation? Each will need approaching in a different way (see below).

Keep it Short

Check out my sample video here. Harvey’s short movie was one of my very first. It was shot and uploaded complete with music in just 10 minutes. Top-flight video production this is not, but it captured a very precious moment. A short movie lets you build skills and have fun so if you get it wrong, you can try again without wasting too much time.

Harvey Demo Movie on Vimeo.

The upside of a quick movie (on any smartphone, remember?) is that the immediacy of a video shot and editing quickly gets your idea in front of an audience. This video introduced many readers to Harvey and gained him a lot of friends after his ear surgery.

If you need an immediate moment for real impact, then integrity and commitment matter more than the occasional wobble.

Plan for Impact – Product Videos 

For a brand or blog, you may review a product. Knowing what you want to say helps. Note things down on your ‘phone, scribble a script on a scrap of paper.

An example. You are asked to do a pet garment review. Imagine reviewing one of those gorgeous cat couture creations, or the artisan cat tree I showcase below.  

Here’s a quick video proposal with a few prompts:

  • Take a couple of long shots, a garment in use, a water fountain running
  • Several close-ups of details 
  • And finish with a full-length shot
  • This will not take long.
  • Upload your video to social media for rapid results, instant and engaged fun.

Aim for Good Video Sound

Whether you use the camera’s audio or a lapel microphone try to make sure the sound is clear, especially if you are not planning on music or wish to do a descriptive voiceover. People forgive a lot of they can hear you clearly.

If your video sound isn’t good, you can remove your soundtrack and overlay it with music, and add text instead.

Cheat Like a Pro for Video Success

Try out any instant video creation apps your smartphone has. The apps are leaner and more sophisticated than ever before. iPhones automatically come with a scaled-down version of iMovie which has plenty of features to get you started and Android users ares poiled for editing apps.

  • Use iMovie ‘trailer‘ format to create a dynamic instant mini-movie which uses a selection of micro movie clips and photos and comes complete with music. The trailer option gives professional polish for the absolute beginner and is perfect for a quick boost when you need to make a rapid impact that makes people take notice.
Connor Neko Ngeru Sept 2018
Speak Clearly to Make an Impression

Looking Good In Your Video

  1. You may not be using the most expensive smartphone but the quality of your video presentation, including yourself, counts. If you are going to be on screen, look presentable – tidy hair, plain simple clothes. Clean and tidy commands respect from most people.
  2. The one time this doesn’t matter is rescue videos and times when you are crawling, trapping, wrangling pets and don’t care what you look like. Trapping a kitten or sick cat from a colony means you get down and dirty.
  3. Don’t be a talking head. Sorry, but no-one wants to watch you talk, unless it is one of those very rare emotional occasions. If you are live you can turn and show people where you are. If you are recording you can record your presentation, then edit in close-ups to keep your viewer’s interest. Cut between you and your subject to provide visual interest.

Not sure what I mean? If you watch a TV interview that shows someone speaking, there will be a shot or two of the back of the interviewers head, usually nodding in agreement? It just makes the event more visually interesting.

Present Yourself on Video
Your message is important and exciting! (stock photo)

Presentation Tips For Looking Your Best

  • Sit in good light – or lighten your footage digitally when you edit.
  • Video success means being prepared. Have a running order or list of prompts so you edit with confidence.
  • Keep your background, and clothing neutral unless you have a specific idea or brand you are promoting.
  • Tell your ‘story’. Have a beginning, a middle, an end, including your Call to Action.
  • Practice so you feel easy speaking to the camera. Be relaxed and be yourself, your blog, your brand, your rescue. People engage with genuine emotion, warmth and enthusiasm.
  • Try not to UM, AH or ER. It makes the brightest most intelligent person sound tongue-tied.

Editing Your Video

Finally a quick word on your movie’s finishing touches.

Filmmaker editing video footage at home on a lapto

Extra polish and impact come with editing after you shoot your video. Some people find editing intimidating but it’s is not as scary as you think. Just take your time, take it slowly and keep your message in mind.

Learn to trim video clips by practising either in your video app, or after you have downloaded your clips to a computer using software. Some older smartphones may have a smaller screen that is hard to edit on. If you feel this is happening download the clips into an program like iMovie, Filmora Go or Adobe Premiere Pro.

Here is a mini showcase of some of my own smartphone movies:

I hope I have inspired you to grab that smartphone and start filming. Let me know if you found the tips useful and what you learned on your video journey.


22 thoughts on “Shoot Cat Videos on Your Smartphone”

  1. Excellent tutorial, Marjorie! I love your videos of Harvey and Arthur. Such beautiful kitties, especially your boy, Harvey. I’ll have to try doing a video again with Henry. You always inspire me! The free music tip and presentation breakdown are very helpful. I’m already thinking about what to do with Henry. Thanks!

    Reply
  2. Fantastic tips although I use my camera as it is easier for me but learning where to find free music is really helpful

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  3. Thank you for so many easy to understand tips! I’ve made a handful of videos over the years using my phone, nothing fancy but I never stick with it. I’m convinced the learning curve is too high so I don’t even bother trying. As soon as I read the word “editing” my brain shuts down. When I’m finally ready to try doing another video, I will be sure to spend time reading your advice again.

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  4. These are excellent tips! YouTube has the Worst music catalog! I’m going to check out Pixabay, thanks! Video is Everything now, we all need to create more & more and get better & better at it

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  5. Great video tips! I am amazed at the progress of filming on phones from the old videocameras. So nice to have decent videos without lugging the big videocams about! And, nice to have one handy. So many times, it was “oh, wish I had the video camera” and now, thanks to smart phones, we always do! Love that there are apps, too, to edit and add music. A far cry from the old days of video editing!

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  6. I always try to do a video when I’m reviewing a cat food or cat toy product. Sometimes they work out well and sometimes, not too good.

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  7. So I have a question–is there such a thing as a cheap iPhone? 😉 One would really think that the price of these things would have gone down by now.

    Reply
  8. Excellent tips! I always enjoy your videos. You inspire me. Every time I read your posts I think “I have got to make more videos.” I know one day I will too. Your suggestion of Adobe Rush is a great one. The editing is always the part of video making that makes me most nervous.

    Reply
  9. Funny that you post about this topic! I actually tried to film trimming my dog’s nails last night for the first time in ages. I used to do videos but fell out of the habit. These are great actionable tips and will help me get back into the habit! Thank you!

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  10. We luvluvluv your video tips ! It’s always seemed like a big thing to make a video to us, and thanks to you it has become much easier and less daunting. Thank you ! Purrs

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  11. Thanks for all the great tips. I tend to use my Android phone mostly for photos and videos because of the convenience of carrying it around. I always take my camera for holidays though.
    I am glad that sweet boy Arthur got his forever home. I loved that little paw poking through trying to touch him at the end.

    Reply
  12. Excellent and well thought out post. Love all the videos, too, especially Arthur’s.
    Lots of video purrs
    ERin

    Reply
  13. We love your videos! Thank you for sharing your always helpful tips. You really do make things less daunting, and I hope this particular post will encourage readers to try their hands and paws at creating some videos. Thank you for hosting! 🙂

    Reply

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