Nowadays, most beginner YouTubers and even videographers start their hobby or even carrier by shooting videos using their smartphone, before they start to invest in more expensive equipment.
With proper skills and a little bit of patience, filming videos with your smartphone can look almost as good as a regular consumer camera footage.
If you add a little bit of cool editing to your video, the end result can be amazing.
So, if you would like to get into video production without spending too much money, this is the most affordable way of doing it.
Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your smartphone’s camera.
Tip #1 Shoot in landscape mode
Whenever I happen to offer my video editing services to people who what me to do family videos or holiday videos I get a lot of footage shoot upright.
These are a pain to edit and incorporate in a nice wide format that you would later want to put on YouTube or watch on TV.
So, next time when you are filming videos with your smartphone remember to hold it horizontally, it will make the editing much easier and the final video will look more way better.
On top of that, it will have the right aspect ratio to use on most platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo.
Tip #2 Film in good lighting
Even the most expensive smartphones will produce, at best, average videos when filming with bad lighting.
This is because they are using small sensors. All you need to do is use better lighting.
Outdoors, avoid shooting in very bright places because the camera on the smartphones tends to overexpose the shot.
The colors will look weird and the shoot will be too bright. Instead, find a more shady spot and film your shoot there.
Indoors, you will need to compensate the poor lighting in order to get decent looking footage.
If you can afford it, get some studio lights and umbrellas. The videos will look much better.
Sometimes the light is there, you just need to adjust your position and angle so that the light works in advantage.
When shooting outdoors you don’t need to go in the most bright area.
This will give you an overexposed footage and the colors will look funny.
Instead, film in an area with a little bit less light.
On the other hand, if you shoot inside you will need to use additional lighting sources, otherwise, the film will have grainy look.
Tip #3 Keep it steady
Hand holding a smartphone for taking pictures or shooting videos requires a little bit of practice.
Shaky hands can ruin a photo and can make a video look really bad.
A little trick you can do in order to minimize the shaking is to bend your elbows and bring the phone closer to your body.
And always use both hands to hold it.
Some high-end smartphones such as Samsung Galaxy S6/S7 or iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have built-in image stabilization. This feature helps a lot.
Of course, you can take it even further and use a professional video editing software to stabilize the image, but even those don’t do a perfect job, especially if the footage is really shaky.
If you want to take things to the next level you will have to invest a little bit in some accessories.
Using a mount and a tripod will pretty much remove any shaking.
If you do get a tripod, make sure you get the fluid head mount tripod, if you plan on doing vertical or horizontal pan shoots.
The standard tripods will give you a really hard time when you’re trying to do any kind of smooth movement.
So do your best at keeping the smartphone as steady as possible when filming.
It will make the video look much better and you won’t have to do the extra work in post-production.
Tip #4 Audio is just as important
Unless you plan to do to a voice-over or add a music score when you edit the video, try to record good audio as well.
Avoid filming near noisy areas that may interfere with the sounds that you want in your video.
Mostly there are loud background noises such as sounds from construction zones, city traffic, other people talking near you and so on and so forth.
Depending on the spectrum of frequency these background noises are using, you may or you may not be able to remove them when editing the video.
Tip #5 Get closer
Smartphones are quite bad at recording video when the subject is standing far from the camera.
You will get more noise in the shoot, the subject is more likely to be out of focus and the overall image quality of the video will be lower.
Most smartphone cameras have a relatively high field of view, meaning they can capture a wider shoot even if you can really close to what you want to shoot.
So don’t hesitate to get really close to your subject. This will improve the image quality, mainly by focusing better.
Tip #6 Disable the auto-focus feature
If your smartphone’s camera software allows it, adjust the settings manually so that it allows you to capture the best quality shots depending on the particularities of each situation.
Manually set the exposure and focus so that everything looks as good as it can under the given circumstances.
Auto-settings might be easier and faster to use, but will not allow you to get the best looking video every time.
Usually, the auto-focus will mess up your videos badly.
So make sure to turn that off and use manual focus.
In case your smartphone camera’s software doesn’t allow it, install a different app such as Open Camera.
Tip #7 Use external lenses
If you want to get more professional you can buy more advanced mounts which allow you to attach different lenses to your smartphone’s camera.
Most common lenses you can use are macro or wide angle lenses.
Using this type of lenses will get your videos a more cinematic look and the more expensive mounts will enable you to shoot pretty steady hand-held shots.
Filming videos with your smartphone you can turn special moments with the loved ones, your vacations or any other footage into professional looking videos.
Just follow the tips above, take the time to master them and then take care of the rest in post-production.
Cristian Stanciu is a freelance video editor, owner, and post-production coordinator of Veedyou Media – a company offering video editing services to videographers, marketing agencies, video production studios, or brands all over the globe.