10 Tips to get Professional Videos from Your Smartphone

hand which holds smartphone

Technology has undoubtedly come a long way over the years. Now, anyone with a smartphone can record videos effortlessly with just a touch of a button. And with little practice and a couple of tips, anyone can capture great moments and start their filmmaking career!

Smartphones these days come with a camera that can take high definition videos without the need to use any accessories or additional devices. What’s even great about it is that you can shoot videos anytime you want and have the footage edited and uploaded immediately.

But it takes more than just shooting videos if you want your content to look professional.

Tip No. 1: Don’t shoot videos vertically

It’s only natural to hold your phone upright. But when it comes to shooting videos, holding your smartphone vertically isn’t the best way to go. That’s because not every smartphone has the same resolution as you do. So, there is a chance that it won’t translate well on other devices.

Keep in mind that monitors all have landscape-oriented displays, too. So, shooting videos on a portrait mode will not look well when seen in a widescreen device.

If you don’t want to ruin your footage by having two black vertical bars running along the sides of your video, try to use the landscape orientation when recording your scenes. Doing so makes your content appear more pleasing to the eye and more enjoyable to watch when viewed in a widescreen device.

Tip No. 2: Keep your shots steady

Although it may seem easy, shooting a video while keeping your hands steady is a challenging feat. To do it, you need both hands to hold your smartphone as close to your body when recording your videos. But doing it for long periods can be tiring. So, if you don’t have steady hands, you might want to invest in a few devices to stabilize your footage.

1. Stabilizer, tripod, and camera cages. These devices can help you get a steady shot while holding your camera. That’s because they have specially designed handles that can help you keep your phone’s balance while you record your video.

2. Flat surfaces. Meanwhile, if you don’t have the funds for it yet, putting your phone on a flat surface should do the trick. You can rest your phone on other objects with a clean flat surface like chairs, tables, and desks to get a steady shot. Make sure that the surface is even so that you’ll get more balanced footage.

Tip No. 3: Never use zoom

If there’s anything that could ruin your shots more than anything else, it’s the digital zoom. Unfortunately, every smartphone these days have the same feature— a software application that makes the object appear closer. However, using this kind of software only deteriorates the video clips, making it more pixelated and blurrier.

Although there are a few devices in the market that have specially designed telephoto lenses to get the perfect shot, not every phone has the same feature. So, if you want to zoom in using your smartphone without making it look pixelated, the simplest way is to walk closer to the subject and shoot the video.

There are also clip-on lenses that can help you achieve macro shots, too. Most of these products are affordable and easy to use. They’re also specially designed to work on smartphones, so you wouldn’t have to worry about its fit.

Tip No. 4: Use lighting to your advantage

Sometimes, getting clear shots isn’t all about the gadget or the smartphone’s features. Lighting plays a crucial role in achieving decent video clips, too. Using the flash feature on your smartphone tends to drown the footage with too much light, making it look washed out. It also makes the subject’s skin appear yellowish with reddish eyes, too.

So, if your smartphone comes with LED lights that are excessively bright, you can try skewing the color temperature. You can also try to find another light source if you’re shooting videos in the dark. There are several lighting kits in the market that can help you get the right kind of light for every setting. You even have the option to build one for yourself.

But out of all the lighting sources available out there, the sun still outranks the rest. Natural light is free and accessible to everyone. It even makes the subject look great at any angle, too. If you want to take dramatic shots, face your subject towards a window for a serene-looking view. Never have the subject face the other way, or you’ll only get a silhouette.

Most professionals call it as backlight-settings, which only results in output footage with a bright light haloing a dark figure. The subject will have no distinguishable features, which causes you to miss the emotions that you were trying to capture.

So that you can prevent this from happening, you can try to configure your light set up. Try placing the lights in a different position, and see if it looks better. There are also a couple of apps that you can try to help you reduce the chances of backlighting.

Tip No. 5: Consider using mobile apps

The smartphone market for Android and Apple has tons of mobile apps that you can use to take excellent shots. Some are even very intuitive, which provides you with features that can help you develop new content. Meanwhile, others have paid subscription that can help bring out the videographer in you.

Apps like Snapchat also makes your videos more fun by adding augmented reality-based filter and effects to your every shot. There are mobile apps that can affect the environment around you, too. Some even allow you to add the current time, local, weather, and geo-filters on your videos. While there are some decent apps that you can get for free, investing in apps that cost a bit can make a difference with your output.

Tip No. 6: Utilize the audio to your advantage

In most cases, recording audio from your smartphone’s built-in microphone is enough to get a decent sound. But if you want your videos to appear more professional, investing in a microphone will do the job.

Remember that your phone’s built-in microphone can capture almost any sound, including wind and other unnecessary background noise. Using a separate recording device to capture audio can help make it easier for you to do your recording with minimal distractions.

You can get an external professional microphone and hook it up to your computer to record your audio. You can also use a memo recorder to get a clear sound, too. Using these accessories and apps can boost the quality of the sound and prevent any unnecessary audio from getting captured in the recording. You can then sync the file to the video footage when you’re about to edit your content.

 Meanwhile, if you don’t have any external microphone handy, you can try to cover the phone’s microphone with your hand to reduce external sounds. Although having another device is still much better, it’ll at least give your final product a chance.

Tip No. 7: Don’t over-use the slow motion

A few of the most recent features that came to every smartphone today are the slow-motion and time-lapse installed in most default camera settings. These are excellent, especially if you want to put some drama into your footage.

The slow-motion features allow viewers to see interesting movements that we often fail to see with our eyes. Although it’s a great feature, it’s not suitable for every scene imaginable. Slow motions are perfect for action shots but won’t have the same effect on shooting other scenes, like when you’re writing.

Meanwhile, time-lapse is ideal for capturing movement that happens over a long period. You can leave your camera for a few hours to capture some amazing shots like the movement of the clouds or even the setting of the sun. You can also make the subway more dramatic by capturing the people walking around.

That’s because time-lapse is a feature that helps you manipulate time. You can capture events that would typically take hours to record and then view it faster. Social media apps like Instagram made the same feature and called it Hyperlapse, which creates a time-lapse video that lasts for a few seconds.

Tip No. 8: Ask for permission

If you’re making any video interviews that you’ll publish later, it’s a must to ask permission from the interviewee before you start rolling the camera. You should also inform the interviewee about the context of the video so that she’s aware of it. The person has to know the purpose of the video and where it will get published.

Tip No. 9: Learn about exposure and focus

DSLRs and other digital cameras were the only ones that used to have the option to adjust exposure and focus accordingly. But thanks to technology, most manufacturers have found a way to put these settings into every almost every smartphone available.

Ideally, you need to lock these settings so that it won’t accidentally get adjusted whenever you use it. Leaving these settings unlocked can cost your footage to get over-exposed and out of focus. Simply tap on the subject using your phone’s default app so that you can manually lock the exposure and focus on the video. If your phone doesn’t have the tap feature, you can also half-press the capture button to do this.

Tip No. 10: Prepare everything

Now that we’ve discussed all the basics of taking professional videos, it’s now time to put it to the test. Before you start recording your content, you need to ensure that you have everything ready beforehand. So, get all the gear, scripts, and props packed in a single bag to make it easier for you to carry them. Also, make sure that your phone has enough battery and storage space to store the video clips. Keep in mind that HD videos can take up a lot of space and quickly drain your phone’s battery.

You should also try to check the location a day or two before the shoot to check if everything is in place. Make sure that all things are in order so there won’t be any delays as soon as you start shooting. Once everything’s complete, you can finally check other video elements to complete your project. You can begin by searching for the best sounding music for your video. Having a suitable track for your background is an excellent way to effectively make your audience feel the emotions of the scene.

Producing quality videos is a fun and lucrative way to express your creativity as a filmmaker and storyteller. Through constant practice and a lot of determination, you can easily see results in no time. So, don’t be afraid to press the record button and start creating your first video today.