Video is very much a staple of online content – and it’s easy to see why.
Thanks to technology and consumer habits changing, it make sense to see a shift geared towards video and visual content. Video has the power to inform, educate and entertain in a direct, shorter format – unlike written blogs. In fact, the human brain processes visual images faster than text, so does using more video mean we are ‘dumbing down’ for our audience?
No – far from it. If anything we are becoming far more sophisticated when it comes to creating content, and understanding what’s going to have the most impact. The market is flooded with all types of content, so you need to have an edge in order to make what you’re doing stand out and be engaging. Video is perfectly crafted to grab people’s attention, but how do you get involved with this visual medium?
Well, I’m here to give you some helpful advice so you can step into the arena and throw down with the big boys. You don’t need to have the eye of Steven Spielberg or the budget of a Hollywood blockbuster, all you really need is your smartphone.
If you want to make a video but feel a little unsure, there’s no time like the present. Time to grab your mobile and get to it.
Look at the world sideways
First off, think about the way you hold your phone. Instead of upright (Portrait) turn it to the side (Landscape). This way the footage you film will be widescreen and can be viewed on a number of different devices. It was popular to film with your phone upright for a while but this was short lived, due largely to the resulting footage not being versatile. You don’t have to just make videos for the small screen; you should keep the big screen in mind, too.
Frame it up
Take a few seconds to frame your shot. This is called composition. Make sure your shot is visually pleasing; a quick and easy way to achieve this is to follow the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is a grid made up of nine squares (showing this grid is an option on most cameras). The idea behind this is that the subject, or the focus of your action, sits perfectly on the lines within the three middle squares. There is a ton of information about this rule alone, so it’s worth reading up on in order to elevate your footage to the next level.
Be safe in the sun
Lighting is key to making your footage look better. When you film in low lighting conditions you may notice that your footage can look grainy – and nobody wants that. Lighting helps eliminate this grainy effect. However, the sun can, in this instant, be your best friend and your worst enemy.
The sun is a free source of lighting, so putting your subject near a window or filming outside will do wonders for your video. However, the sun can also have the opposite effect. If you position your subject with the sun behind them then they will often look like a silhouette; unless this is the style you’re going for, it can be an unwelcome surprise. Really bright light can also wash out your subject, so be sure to use sunlight carefully.
Sort out your sound
Your audience may put up with bad visuals, but they won’t put up with bad sound. If you’re recording interviews make sure you have your subject as close to your sound recording device as possible. Before pressing record, take a second to listen to your surroundings; there in no such thing as silence, there is always some sort of ambient sound. This could be music, talking, machines, traffic, air conditioning – you name it. Try to put the main source of noise behind you when you are filming, as this will reduce the amount of sound recorded.
Invest in the best
There are plenty of accessories that will increase your phone camera’s abilities and step up your videography game. Clip on lenses give you the chance to change your shot and the dimension of your story telling. For sound recording, you can buy custom shotgun mics that clip onto your phone to improve sound recording. For even better results, it might be worth buying a lav mic (lapel clip mic) – this is perfect for interviews, and will give you a much cleaner sound as it’s really close to your subject.
Strong and stable
Super shaky footage can look amateur, and may even make your audience feel sick. It’s worth investing into a tripod, or a little Gorillapod that can fit anywhere and onto anything.
These are perfect if you are into vlogging, as you don’t have to hold your phone – meaning you can frame your shot and not worry about dropping your phone when you’re in full flow.
If you have a little more budget, you could invest in a gimbal. This little device uses electric motors to balance your camera, keeping your footage rocksteady. Using a gimbal gives your footage a cinematic edge; just like a Wonkavator it has the ability not to only go up and down. It can go sideways and slantways and front ways and squareways and long way – you get the picture. It’s versatile.
Slice and dice
Now that you have filmed something, it’s time to put it all together. Depending on your budget and resources, you could use editing software on your computer, like Windows Movie Maker or iMovie on a Mac. If this not an option then there are plenty of editing apps to try. GoPro make a very good, easy to use editing app that gives you templates to follow. If you are more of a free-flow sort of person then Adobe Premiere have an app called Slice, which gives you the chance to make exactly the movie you want to make.
Just remember before you start filming – think about what the point is, or the story you are trying to tell. This way you will be more prepared when you come to hit record.
Follow these little tips for smartphone success and you can’t go wrong. Mobile filming is not going away anytime soon, and although phones may not replace high end cameras for the time being, that doesn’t mean that they won’t give them a run for their money.
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