It’s crazy easy, isn’t it? Who would have ever thought that anyone could make a movie. I never imagined filmmaking would become so cheap and that video cameras would be put in everyone’s hands.
Well, shooting video on your smartphone isn’t mostly the problem. What typically happens with mobile phone users is that they shoot a lot of videos, but the videos don’t really tell a complete story, or they don’t seem worthy of sharing. After a few days, those videos are deleted to make space for other stuff.
Some of us might be here, just to learn how to do better home videos.
But hey! There’s more. You could get some really professional videos out from your smartphone. A camera is a camera after all right. And some of the cameras on smartphones are even better than DSLR cameras when it comes to smart features, workflows and video production. Especially, if your content marketing plans need you to produce regular videos for your small business and it’s getting really difficult to afford the expensive setups and production costs…
So let’s get into smartphone video production.
What needs to come together to make a good video? Audio, Lighting, Camera and your subject. Well, there’s post production too.
Your workflow might change a bit depending on what kind of footage you are shooting. But let’s explore a general idea about creating videos for YouTube.
Audio: If you’re recording live action videos, try and choose a quiet place with minimum echo. Some kinds of shoots won’t allow you to have a quiet place, for these we’ll plan to mute the audio on the recording and replace it with voice over and music in post production.
Lighting: Cameras usually don’t work well in extreme lighting conditions. So harsh overhead sunlight in the afternoon causes burnt out highlights and harsh shadows. Meanwhile, low light gives you a lot of noise and makes it difficult to focus on your subjects. Soft overcast natural light, shooting in the shade during the day or a diffused artificial light will be better suited for video recording. Sometimes, sitting next to a window also gives you a lovely diffused light depending on what time of the day it is.
Smartphone video recording: Most smartphones have good interfaces for video recording. But you could always explore video recording apps from the app store for specific features. Like, if your default camera app doesn’t have a touch to focus or exposure control. If you are shooting the video yourself, it’s better to shoot with the back camera, rather than the selfie mode, on most phones the back camera has better quality and features. Also, it’s easier to look at the lens during takes while you talk directly into the camera, watching yourself could get a bit distracting. It does for me.
Smartphone filmmaking equipment: You will need to invest in a tripod and an adapter to connect your smartphone to the tripod. For audio, your handsfree will do. Or if you can have your subject talk loud and be closer to the camera, your phone should be able to pick up reasonably good audio.
Smartphone video stabiliser: You don’t need one. Stabilisers don’t really add that much value. Smartphone video stabilisers with gimbals are expensive. They’re around $300. And for most cases, you can get away with a selfie stick or monopod.
How to make a YouTube video on your iPhone or smartphone?
A lot of content creators are looking to make videos on their iPhones. Meanwhile, I also regularly have people asking me to recommend good YouTube channels for education, varied DIY projects, cookery and tech channels too. So there’s a demand for this kind of YouTube content. Meanwhile, full disclaimer: YouTube ad revenue is really low and it’s unlikely that your YouTube revenue alone will pay for your setup or even cover your costs. So should do YouTube only if you really want to put your content out there and share your ideas with the world.YouTube is probably not the money making tool that it is projected to be.
For most use cases there are a couple of different kinds of shots you might want to do when it comes to YouTube videos.
- A live action shot of a talent talking into the camera.
- B-Roll shots like shots of food for a cookery show, different shots angles for a gadget review or a whiteboard over the top shot for an educational channel.
- Screen recording or digital whiteboard shots or time-lapse for app reviews and whiteboard animations.
A typical workflow is as below:
Scripting: Have a clear idea about what you are going to say or show, this will save you heaps of retakes.
Audio: Don’t neglect audio quality, consider recording audio in a quiet place with minimum echo.
Lighting: You might have to invest in at least one light with a diffuser along with a light stand. You can hook up a DIY light or a LED light and diffuse it with paper even.
Production: We’re all human, we make mistakes. So do shorter takes according to your comfort level. I usually delete bad takes when they happen and redo them right away so that I don’t have to sort through all the takes later. Doing shorter scenes also helps because I personally make fewer mistakes and fumble less when I do short scenes of 20 seconds. Also, shoot video in landscape mode. Most video formats are landscape. Try and stay slightly off centre to your framing but not completely at the edges. This is because smartphone cameras usually have wide angle lenses and it will destroy your frame.
B-Roll: Also consider taking photographs of all your frames. Sometimes, when you add the voice or titles the video you have recorded might not be long enough to support them. You could get away with adding an image with slight movement like a pan or zoom in.
Post Production: Choosing a good video editing app that works for you is imperative to a smooth workflow for post production Cyberlink PowerDirector, Adobe Clip and Splice are really good video editing apps. They have all the advanced features you need to create videos for YouTube. If you want to try something more simple apps like GoPro Quik and Majesto, will even automatically edit your videos. These are good for highlight videos.
Live Editing Workflow for Smartphone Filmmaking:
When I do a restaurant review; or a cooking video. I use this technique. Most Android phones have a pause record feature during recording. So what I practice a shot, once I’m happy with it I hit the record button and go for a take. The take lasts for about 4 to 6 seconds and then I hit pause. I move on to the next angle and I record again. This way I edit while I record and I have a video, ready to go. I mute the audio and a music track to it.