How to Film Professional Looking Videos On Your Phone

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Often the biggest barrier for businesses attempting to make high-quality marketing materials is the camera. Many feel that it is impossible without over $5000 worth of cameras and lenses, let alone the lighting, tripods, and sound equipment you could buy to go along with it. But there is an alternative approach that can still give you a professional look and feel without spending a tonne of money.

iPhones have come a long way since they were unveiled in 2007. They have now become camera powerhouses within the smartphone market, delivering high-quality videos. With their ability to record 4k video at a great framerate, their inclusion of multiple cameras, and great overall output means you can film professional video content with the device in your pocket.

So, what will you need to make sure the video shot on your phone looks professional?

Keep your camera stable

The first thing you need to find is a way to keep your camera stable. Sure your iPhone probably has optical image stabilisation, and that will help a bit, but the image will still be shaky if you hold it. The best way to keep your camera stable is with a tripod and phone adapter. These can be found for quite cheap at JB Hi-Fi or similar places online. With this, you simply click your phone into the adapter, and set the tripod to the right height.

An alternative, if you are unable to get a tripod, is to lean your phone against something stable like books or a table. If you need to hold the phone, hold it tight to your chest to reduce wobble, and if you want to pan, turn your body instead of your arms.

Lighting

Lighting is important in making your video look professional. You want to ensure that the shot is not overexposed, wiping an individuals’ facial features. On the other hand, underexposure can cast them in shadow. To ensure this doesn’t happen you should focus on the subject, holding your finger down on the screen until a yellow circle appears and pulses. Once the AE/ AF Lock text appears you know it has worked, meaning you can lock the focus and auto exposure allowing you to adjust the exposure manually using the sun icon.

If you need to you can buy an affordable lighting set to up your lighting game. This will improve quality especially in difficult to light shots. If you are finding the manual adjustments of exposure on the camera is just not cutting it to get rid of underexposure, consider purchasing some lighting.

Improving audio quality

Audio quality is key to making a video look and feel professional. While the built-in microphone on later model iPhones is surprisingly good, it does pick up a lot of background noise, shifting focus away from the speaker. To help you can pick up lapel microphones for around $50. These feed up through your shirt and sit on your collar, the other end is then plugged straight into the phone.

Keep an eye on the focus

Focus is another key aspect to ensuring your video looks professional. Many professionals spend thousands of dollars on camera lenses to achieve the classic clearly defined subject and blurry background shot (also known as a bouquet effect). While the effect they achieve looks stunning, you can get a similar effect with the iPhone’s focus functionality. To achieve this you need to tap on the subject you would like to be in focus to adjust the focus. Then ensure the subject is a significant enough distance away from the background to get the blurring effect.

Grid lines

The rule of thirds is considered photography and videography 101. It is an important aspect of composition in framing that is used universally from films to documentaries. Essentially, the rule of thirds states that the key elements should lie where the grid lines intersect or along the two vertical lines.

This is a good rule to follow as it connects well with how the human brain processes an image. It is also easy to enable a grid on the camera viewfinder in your iPhone settings.

Frames per second and resolution

Frames per second and resolution hold many options that you will need to consider. The higher the resolution and frame rate the larger the overall file size will be. However, at the same time the image quality and smoothness of the video will improve as well. But, what you choose will depend entirely on what you plan on doing with the video.

This is especially true with frame rate. Generally videos are filmed at around 30 FPS (frames per second), but you can film at 60 FPS on an iPhone should you choose. There isn’t much difference between both frame rates for general advertisements or social media videos.

Resolution is more important. You should film at least 4K resolution for most videos as it gives you more flexibility. You can always downsize the resolution later to 1080p full HD later when you export the video after editing. Both these settings can be adjusted in the iPhone’s settings.

Don’t:

Use the zoom function

A big downside of the cameras on smartphones, including the iPhone, is their inability to zoom without dramatically reducing the quality of the image. Of course, more expensive cameras achieve what is known as optical zoom with big, bulky lenses that would not fit into a smartphone’s thin form factor. Newer iPhones can mimic this effect by using multiple cameras, however, it is not as flexible.

The best way to zoom in on your subject is to simply move closer.

Shoot vertically

Vertical video has suffered a lot of mocking online since the advent of smartphone recording and social media. It is often a dead giveaway that you are filming on an iPhone, reducing the professional look and feel of the video. They can also be more difficult to work with in editing, so it is important to ensure you always flip your phone horizontal before you begin filming.

There are cases where vertical video is actually the best option. Generally this is when the video is for Instagram or Snapchat stories. Here you want to have an amateurish, off the cuff feel to these videos which vertical video provides.

Set and forget

It is really easy to set your camera up, start recording, and not adjusting the camera based on the conditions. However, when you go to edit the footage you may find that the subject is overexposed, goes out of focus at times, or your audio is muffled.

The first thing you should do when recording is to record a test take. This way you can watch it back, adjust all you need and then record the full video. If you need to, don’t be afraid to take multiple takes or re-do individual sections. If you want the video to look professional, having the option to choose the best take is a good place to start. You will thank yourself in editing.

Conclusion

Recording a professional-looking video without the professional equipment is possible. It just takes some creativity to overcome the limitations set in by smartphone cameras. However, we are seeing, even from professionals, smartphones becoming more prevalent in film. In fact Academy Award-winning director Claude Lelouche shot one of his recently released films partly on an iPhone.

If you have any further questions about how to make great video content for your marketing, reach out to our content creation team.