Everyone has a smartphone these days and because smartphones are designed to be accessible to everyone, making videos has never been easier. It’s as simple as pulling out your phone from your pocket and clicking record. Smartphones are full to the brim with features that even give professional-grade cameras a run for their money. With just some tweaking, you can transform your home videos into a blockbuster movie in no time. Here’s how to make professional videos on your smartphone: tips for filmmakers.
Check your settings
We can’t stress this one enough. There is no worse feeling when you shoot a video for two hours and realise the video is too dark and in low resolution. Always be sure to go into your phone settings before shooting and make sure your settings are set to 1080p or higher. If your phone shoots in 4K, consider using that option. Just be wary that you’ll need a lot of storage space as the increase in resolution will eat up more of your phone’s memory.
Vertical or Horizontal
Under normal circumstances, you would always shoot horizontally as TVs are wider and have more space for your video to cover. Shooting vertically will have two black bars on each side of the screen and is not very pleasing to look at. Shooting horizontally gives you more room to stage the scene as needed and is more aesthetically pleasing. This is great for making interviews, tutorials, TV shows and movies.
With that said, now that social media allows you to upload videos straight from your phone, including OnlyFans, it is recommended to shoot vertically. The simple reason is that smartphones are held vertically when scrolling through social media apps. It’s far more beneficial to record vertically if you intend on uploading your videos to social media. This saves the viewer from rotating their phone which can be a minor annoyance. Portrait videos are great for live streams as it gives you a free hand to express yourself to your viewers with body language.
It boils down to what content you intend on filming. If you want to be a YouTuber doing tutorials, shooting horizontally is the way to go. If you want to focus on live streams or short videos for social media, then shooting vertically is more practical.
Use the back camera
For the best image quality, always use the back camera when possible. This is because the back camera has a higher resolution than the camera on the front, creating a more flattering image. Front cameras should only be used for live streams as you may need to see yourself when performing in front of your audience.
Lighting is key
As mentioned in our 10 Tips for Making Videos blog post, lighting is a key element when it comes to good-looking videos. Like DSLR cameras, smartphones come with a pre-installed flash. But just like DSLR cameras, they’re cheap and unflattering. It’s always better to use another light source, be it the light from the sun outside or a lighting kit. Using lighting kits allows you to position as many light sources as you want and will improve the overall image quality of your video.
Lock your exposure and focus settings
By default, your phone will automatically set your exposure and focus settings on the fly. This is great for short videos but a nuisance for longer videos that require panning movements. Oftentimes, the phone can be out of focus momentarily as it’s constantly calculating what to bring into focus. This is especially aggravating when filming an interview when you’re talking and the video becomes blurry for no reason.
The best way to prevent this problem is to tap your finger on the screen where you want the camera to be focused on. By doing this you have locked the focal point and the phone will no longer keep trying to adjust your settings. Some smartphones also have a professional mode where you can manually adjust all of your settings, allowing you to be in full control of what your footage looks like.
Don’t zoom in
The main drawback of smartphones is the ability to zoom in. While this is possible and has its uses, it’s not flattering when it comes to filming videos. Because the zoom function is digital, the more you zoom in, the more pixelated your footage will be. Quite often the best solution is the simple one and just move in a little closer.
Top-tier phones have counteracted this issue though by having multiple lenses with different functions. Most top-tier phones now have a standard lens, a macro lens for close-up shots, and a wide-angle lens. It’s also possible to buy clip-on lenses which attach to your phone. Clip-on lenses are extremely affordable and there are many variants for different purposes.
Stabilize your phone
Achieving steady footage is very easy with smartphones. Most smartphones today have pre-built image stabilization features that help reduce shaky footage. If you require more stabilization for your film, then you can purchase tripods that are built specifically for smartphones. Tripods are great if you don’t plan on moving your camera. For walking, however, gimbals are your best bet. Gimbals allow you to walk around with your phone without so much as a wobble.
Most smartphones come with a bag full of unique features that can really change up the style of your video. One of the coolest features is the slow-mo function. This allows you to slow down the video in real-time giving your video a more cinematic look. This is great for creating action sequences as it allows the viewer to see more detail during an action-heavy scene. It’s also great for other creative projects such as art pieces.
Another cool feature is the time-lapse mode. This allows your phone to automatically take pictures for long periods of time and compresses those images into just a few seconds of video footage. This is great for before and after videos as it allows the viewer to watch the progression of your task very quickly without it feeling drawn-out. Every phone has different features so try experimenting yourself and see what works for you.
Check your audio
The microphones on your smartphone are great for phone calls, but not good enough for high-quality audio for videos. Invest in an external microphone that’s compatible with your phone as it will improve your audio quality greatly. The Boya BY-MM1 Compact Microphone is a great piece of kit that comes with all the bells and whistles you need for high-quality audio recording at an affordable price.
Edit your videos
Once you have your video clips, it’s time to edit them. Some phones like Apple and Samsung come with basic video editing apps pre-installed. These apps are good enough to get the job done and are free to use. If you don’t have video editing apps pre-installed however, there are plenty of third-party apps on the market too. Apps like Quik and InShot are fantastic video editors that have simple controls but amazing results. They’re also free! If you need a few more features to play with, we strongly recommend KineMaster. KineMaster is a powerhouse compared to most video editing apps as it comes with an endless supply of professional-grade assets and effects. It only costs £3.99/$4.99 a month and works like a dream.
These are our top tips for making professional videos with your smartphone. It’s straightforward and with just a little practice, you’ll be making videos on the fly in no time.
Are you a filmmaker? Did you find this guide useful? Let us know in the comments section below.