Professional video production is great when you’ve got the budget, and it’s always important to match your production quality to the anticipated value of your video — if you’re launching a high-end product or pitching your services to a multi-million dollar company, don’t skimp on your video production. But there are situations when a casual video shot on your mobile device will do the job just fine, and even cases when casual mobile videos can help you communicate authentically and build trust with your audience.
With a few tricks of the video trade, you can film and edit videos that tell your brand’s story, all on your phone. Just keep these tips in mind when filming on mobile.
- Phone cameras amplify shaky hands. Instead of holding the phone, stabilize it using a small tripod or lean it against something solid.
- Unless you’re just filming a quick video in one take, avoid using windows for lighting. The light can change throughout the course of filming, making it more difficult to edit later. Instead, use lamps to add extra light to your environment, but don’t point them directly at the faces of those being filmed. Softer, indirect light is best.
- Use auto exposure and auto focus lock so that your phone doesn’t have to constantly adjust while filming. This feature works slightly differently on different devices, but with most phones, just enter video mode and hold the screen in the part of the frame where you want it to focus for a few seconds. A yellow box will appear at the focal point, along with the words “AE/AF Lock” at the top of the screen. To the right of the box, you’ll see a small sun icon. Slide this up and down to adjust the exposure (think of this as the amount of light in what you’re filming).
- Try not to include anything in the frame that doesn’t provide context for the video. Clear any clutter, and remove any objects that might cause a distraction. Use natural props that provide context for the video, and try to keep them symmetrical within the frame. There are lenses made for phone cameras that allow you to get pretty creative with framing, if you’re up for some experimentation.
- If you’re filming people, avoid placing them directly in front of a wall, as it’s better to have some depth in the shot. Try sitting or standing in the middle of a room. Place your phone at a distance that puts them in the center of the frame, with enough room above their heads that no one is in danger of being cut off by the camera.
- Audio is key for phone filming and can make a video feel professional if it’s done right. If you have access to a microphone, there are inexpensive adapters you can use to hook it up to your phone. If you’re filming people, I always recommend lavalier mics for the best sound.
- Quik is a free, easy-to-use app for editing video on your iPhone. Play with music, text, and filters to see what effect they have on your finished product. Sometimes finding the right song can really elevate a video from plain to more professional.
Save your video budget for projects that require professional services and use your phone to create videos for social media, email marketing, and more. For inspiration, check out Trekk’s Vimeo channel, which shows a range of what we produce in our studio, from high-end production to some of our very own mobile phone videos.
Header photo by Joey Huang.