7 Tips for Shooting Video with Your Phone

By Geoff Arbuckle / May 2, 2018 / Video Production

Shooting a video on your smartphone may seem easy to do, but all too often mobile-phone videos are too hard to see, hear, and/or follow. But if you follow these seven tips, you can become an iPhone video expert rather quickly, and your video productions will prove it.

The difference in your finished product will be apparent, resulting in a high-quality video with the look and feel of an expensive camera and experienced filmmaker.

1. Hold the phone horizontally.

If you hold your phone vertically, the sides of the image will get cropped out and nobody will be able to see the full view of what you’re recording. If you transfer a vertical video into most any platform not called Snapchat (we’ve all seen it), you’ll be shrinking the picture to fit a full-frame view. Don’t be that guy.

If you start shooting video vertically, then switch it to be horizontal, the phone will flip your shot onto its side, which isn’t good either. Always start your recording by holding the phone horizontally.

An easy way to remember this is our eyes are horizontal, not vertical. So, you should hold your phone horizontally, not vertically.

2. Hold your phone very still.

Getting a small tripod for your phone would be ideal, or a gimbal stabilizer, but if you aren’t interested or able to get either of those, it’s important to hold your phone as still as possible while filming your subject to reduce jitter and shakiness.

There are inexpensive Gimbals on the market, like the Zhiyun Smooth-Q that costs $100 that can make your footage look very smooth and reduce shakiness almost completely. The gimbals like the Zhiyun Smooth-Q are intuitive to use and don’t take long to set up, so it should be a welcome addition to your arsenal.

3. Get close to your subject/what you’re shooting.

While you can zoom in with your phone, the more you zoom in, the shakier your handheld footage will become. Zooming in also reduces the quality of your footage. So, instead of zooming in, try getting the phone as close to your subject as possible without using the zoom feature.

 4. Make sure your subject is in focus.

The camera should automatically focus, but sometimes the camera doesn’t know what to focus on.  If this happens, and your subject is blurry and out of focus, you can tell your camera to focus on it by tapping the subject on your phone screen.

 5. If it is dark, make sure the flash on your camera is on.

You can leave it on auto and the phone will brighten up darker shots with the flashlight next to the camera. Or you can flip your flash setting to “On” and your flashlight will turn on as long as you’re recording. Just make sure you’re as close to your subject as possible so the light can hit what you’re shooting.

6. If you’re recording a sound or your voice, get as close to the sound’s source as possible.

The iPhone’s microphone isn’t going to be able to pick up your voice if it’s far away from your mouth, so make sure you have your iPhone less than 3 feet away from your subject so you can successfully capture all the sounds/voices you want.

7. If you’re in a room with a lot of noise, that loud noise will drown out your voice.

Say there’s a generator or a loud fan in a room you’re working in. All anyone listening to that recording will be able to hear will be the loud noise.

If you need to record your voice, then record what you need to say in a quieter room or area, either before or after you record in the louder area. You can then edit the voiceover and video together for a quality production without noise pollution.

If you’re shooting a video with your phone and follow these tips, you should be in solid shape. There is also plenty of free and cheap software out of there to help you edit your footage straight from your phone, but we’ll leave the editing up to you and your preference.