Do you think that you really need the latest fancy bells and whistles expensive smartphone for videos, charity fundraisers or a pet rescue appeal?
When I am asked how to make a short film with a mobile ‘phone I always say that don’t think you need an expensive or highly featured device. Your own smartphone will do the job and this post for Pet Parade 311 will prove it. You may have a few limitations here or there, but these will not get in your way.
Check these tips for using any phone to make a good video.
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Video can be a fresh and exciting direction for bloggers of all kinds and you can create everything from a teaser trailer to a product demo. The following tips work for almost every phone.
My basic iPhone 4S created a smartphone short film in for the Blogpaws® Nose to Nose Finalist movie. Not the fanciest smartphone on the block, and you can create with your older smartphone too.
There is no steep learning curve in making a movie
You just need a dash of common sense preparation and a bit of planning to learn how to make a smartphone movie on your iPhone or Android. This and, maybe, a lapel microphone are your essential
Don’t be intimidated by the high production values of professional movies, your aim is quality video values for your own audience with your own device.
Your commitment, enthusiasm and love for the message in your video matter more than a set of fancy lights.
Top Tips for Video Success
Smartphone Camera Know-how
- How long does it take to turn on your ‘phone and start shooting? Each smartphone is different.
- How much light do you need? Outside is best for natural light.
- Can you use your smartphone? Know your camera’s capacity and microphone sensitivity.
- Read the manual!
If you need one you can add a simple soundtrack. For music, we recommend Incompetech for a wide variety of styles, royalty-free under a Creative Commons licence, or a licensed piece of music from Envato.com – AudioJungle.
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.
Know what kind of video you are shooting
Our top video filming tip? Know what your goal is and keep your general focus on this. Is it a homestyle vignette? A cat’s adventures, a kitten falling over its paws, a product review, or a sophisticated travelogue presentation?
Make it a Quick Movie
Check out my sample video here.
Harvey’s simple movie 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.
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 Havey 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.
Blogger Product Focus – Plan for Impact
For a brand or blog, you may review a product. Knowing what you want to say helps.
An example. You are asked to do a pet garment review. Think of one of those gorgeous cat couture creations, or a practical pups’ winter coat.
This is a quick video proposal with a few prompts:
- Take a couple of long shots, a garment in use,
- several close-ups of details,
- and finish with a full-length shot.
- Done in 5 minutes, trim (edit) using an app like ‘Videoshop‘ (Apple) and (Google Play) or Adobe RUSH
- 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.
Cheat like a pro for video success
Use any instant video creation apps your smartphone has.
iPhones automatically come with a scaled-down version of iMovie which has plenty of quality features to get you started. This has a quick and easy function for beginners.
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.
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 family who adore him!
Looking Good In Your Video
Top presentation tip when speaking to the camera?
Don’t just film yourself sitting in one place
Your message is important and exciting! You may not be using the most expensive smartphone for videos you create but the quality of your presentation counts.
You can record your presentation, then edit in close-ups to keep your viewer’s interest. Cut between you and your subject 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.
- Sit in good light – or lighten your footage when you edit.
- Video success means being prepared. Have a running order or list of prompts so you speak 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.
Exceptions to the Presentation Rule?
Talking to the camera is boring for the viewer unless you really have a strong, structured and very specific concept. Then you can go for it. Speak with conviction, have any props ready and practice!
Editing your video
Finally a quick word on your movie’s finishing touches.
Smartphone video editing is not as scary as you think. Extra polish and impact come with editing after you shoot your video. Just take your time if you intend to edit and keep your message in mind.
Learn to trim video clips by practising either in video app (or after you have downloaded your clips to a larger computer screen). Some older smartphones may have a smaller screen that means you might like to download the clips into
Here is a mini showcase of some of my own smartphone movies:
- Our night movie of the HighLight Show in New Zealand
- No Edit super fast movie
- Our Nose to Nose Awards Finalist smartphone movie ‘Duckling‘
OK everyone, grab that camera or smartphone and start filming. Shoot for video success by doing a bit of practice every day.
I hope my tips are useful. Please let us know when you upload your amazing movies online!