Tips and Tricks for Shooting Video on your Smartphone

by Emma Shores

Everyone with a smartphone has the power to become a videographer. Shooting video can be intimidating at first, but I promise you, it’s fairly simple once you learn a few tips and tricks. The most important thing is just to get started!

As a rule of thumb, shoot your footage horizontally, so that when you download it to your video editing software, it’s ready to go. (If you shoot vertically and then want a horizontal video, the frame will become cropped and could ruin the integrity of the footage.) And don’t let the mention of editing software scare you. There are several inexpensive (or free) programs available that are easy to learn. I’ve found that Movie Maker, which comes with Apple products, is the easiest to use if you don’t have any experience.

To ensure a steady video, try placing or leaning your phone against a stable surface like a table or desk. Better still, invest in a mini tripod. There are many different options out there starting as low as $10 that are small enough to fit in a handbag or briefcase. If you don’t have a tripod or a stable surface available, try to hold your phone with both hands and a relaxed body. A personal trick I use is holding my triceps against my body for stability.

It’s also important to make sure you have good lighting. Yellowish lighting indoors can prevent your video from looking professional. For a higher-quality look, use natural lighting or an LED light when shooting your video. If you’re shooting indoors, try not to place your subject with their back to a window, as the back light will cast shadows onto your subject. If a window is available, face your subject directly toward the window.

Try a variety of different setups to see which works best with your phone. Using your rear camera lens will typically produce higher-quality footage than using your front-facing camera lens, however audio quality without a microphone is often better when the microphone is facing toward the subject. Do a few different takes and see what works best when you load the footage into your editing software.

In terms of audio, the location of your shoot is key. Try to choose an area that won’t echo if your subject is speaking. Large, tall buildings or empty rooms with high ceilings and hard surfaces, like marble, will make audio trickier to perfect than a smaller room with lower ceilings, furniture, and carpet.

When looking at the shooting capabilities your smartphone has, try to shoot in 4k or the highest resolution your phone has available. You can find these options in the settings on your smartphone camera. Also, try not to zoom in if possible. Instead, place your phone closer to the subject you’re shooting. This will provide the clearest and highest-quality shot. In terms of exposure, many phones also have the option to adjust and lock the exposure prior to hitting ‘record.’ Play with these settings to find what works best in each shoot location.

Lastly, have fun! If you’re behind the scenes or in front of the camera, it’s important to relax. Making your subject comfortable will help you produce a better video. Try changing up your shots until you find what works, and always be sure to shoot more than one take of each video!

Want to learn more? Check out these links with more expert tips on how to shoot video on your smartphone:

Emma Shores serves as the marketing coordinator for Risk Placement Services, Inc. (RPS), where she is responsible for team operations, finances, social and earned media amplification, internal communications, and assisting with creative marketing initiatives to help enable core values of RPS. Prior, Emma interned on Capitol Hill in the House of Representatives, interned with NBC Universal Pictures and interned with Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Emma is a recent graduate of Illinois State University, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in political science and public relations. Emma currently serves on the Awards and Recognition committee for the Insurance Marketing & Communication Association.