Shoot smart: Tips for shooting video with your smartphone

July 9, 2012

BEFORE SHOOTING

Practice, practice, practice

Test everything out before it counts.

Gear-up

Try a mini-tripod with your phone. Our videographers recommend a Gorillapod. This helps stabilize the camera and minimize shakiness. Getting good sound is important too. An external microphone can go a long way. Our videographers recommend a Blue Microphone Mikey. Both might be a bit unnecessary

WHEN YOU ARE SHOOTING

Horizontal only

It’s so tempting to shoot vertically with your phone, but we can’t do as much with vertical video. Shoot horizontally.

Short and sweet

Aim for videos to be around a minute long or shorter. There’s lots of good video on the Internet that is longer, but it usually isn’t shot with a smartphone.

Get up close

Sometimes it’s a bit uncomfortable, but videographers often invade people’s space to get the best shots. You get to see the detail if you’re close to the action. That said, be respectful and smart while trying to get the best shot.

Above and below

Normal people take video from eye-level. Try holding your smartphone above your head to get a unique angle. Try crouching down to get the shuffle of people’s feet. Watch any documentary and you’ll see the varied angles are what make sometimes boring shots interesting.

The world is your tripod

Normal people’s smartphone video shakes a little bit. Experts will counteract this by using their stable surroundings as a tripod to minimize shaking. Put your phone up against a tree, on top of a table, on the back of a bench, or even on someone else’s shoulder.

Hold that shot: Count to 10

Most people are used to shooting a photograph: click and done. Give yourself something to work with: hold each shot for at least 10 seconds. It’s a lot longer than you think.

Let things happen on camera

While there is a time and place for narrating what’s happening, oftentimes it’s better to let something unfold in front of you without talking.

Zoom with your feet

The zoom on your smartphone camera makes your videos look grainy. Instead, move yourself physically closer to the subject of the video.

Sound matters

Audiences can often deal with bad video as long as the audio is good. But they can’t deal with bad audio even if the video is good. This means that you should try to make your audio as good as you can – shield your phone from the wind, interview people in less noisy spaces, etc.

Note: For our London Eyes project, please be aware that there are rules for taking video of the sporting events at the Olympic Games. Please refer to posted signs in Olympic venues and the International Olympic Committee Web site.

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