Shooting High Quality Videos with Your Smartphone: Pro Tips for Beginners
Thanks to constant leaps in camera technology, smartphones now empower anyone to shoot compelling high-definition video without expensive dedicated equipment. While the mastery of professional cinematographers takes years to develop, you can elevate smartphone video quality substantially with some basic techniques.
This guide covers core fundamentals, gear recommendations and practical tips for shooting visually engaging videos using just your phone. Let’s dive in!
Establishing strong fundamentals provides a firm foundation before considering fancier techniques:
Stabilize the Shot
Eliminate distracting camera shake by holding steady, leaning against objects for support, using gimbals or tripods. Keep movement fluid.
Determine the most important subject elements and compose the frame tightly around them. Avoid extraneous space and elements bleeding in.
Follow the Rule of Thirds
Mentally divide frames into thirds vertically and horizontally. Optimal focus points tend to align with intersection points rather than dead center.
Lock Exposure and Focus
Before recording, tap and hold to lock autoexposure and autofocus so brightness and focus do not shift mid-shot as lighting changes.
Adjust Camera Angle
Consider shooting slightly angled up or down rather than straight ahead for more dynamic framing. But avoid aiming up noses.
Shoot Landscape Not Portrait
Record in horizontal landscape orientation following 16:9 aspect ratio standards rather than vertical portrait orientation unless required.
Get Close with Details
Move in physically closer on details like faces instead of just zooming digitally. This provides the most flattering perspective.
Gear and Accessories
Certain affordable add-ons greatly improve smartphone video capabilities:
Clip-on lenses like fisheye, telephoto and anamorphic provide effects like adjustment of field of view, flare, focus fall-off and bokeh.
Improves sound quality dramatically. Consider lapel mics, shotgun mics or adapters for XLR pro mics. Brands like Rode and Shure make smartphone compatible options.
Motorized gimbals like DJI OM 5 smooth out handheld movement. Useful for action shots while walking and moving.
Securely mount your phone for stable locked down shots. Mini tripods from Joby, Manfrotto and others fold down easily.
Remote Shutter Release
Use a Bluetooth remote to trigger recording from a distance without touching and disturbing the phone.
Reflectors and Diffusers
Mini clip-on reflectors reduce shadows and shape lighting. Diffusers soften harsh sunlight.
Portable LED Light
Compact on-camera LED lights brighten faces and scenes. Rechargeable with brightness/tone controls.
Extend recording runtime with battery cases and portable chargers. Avoid shots dying mid-take. Anker makes quality options.
Useful Smartphone Video Apps
Specialized video apps unlock advanced control and editing compared to default camera:
Provides granular manual exposure, focus, white balance, audio, frame rate and resolution options lacking in stock camera apps.
Moment Pro Camera
Similar pro-tier controls but also supports Moment’s proprietary accessory lenses for added creative possibilities.
Adobe Premiere Rush
Robust editing app for trimming clips, correcting color, adding graphics, music and uploading to social media straight from your phone.
Full-featured editing app with an intuitive workflow tailored for short form vertical content. Popular with social media creators.
Allows recording video from both front and back cameras simultaneously for creative visuals and tutorials.
Specialized timelapse apps provide smoother, stabilized speed ramping effects perfect for condensing longer activities.
Shooting Techniques and Best Practices
Apply these tips tailored to different common video subject matter:
Interviewing On Camera
Have subject slightly off center angled toward empty on-screen space to maintain engaging eye lines. Use an external mic.
Position camera slightly above eye level for a flattering angle. Use bursts of natural light. Enhance skin smoothing and background blur in post.
Clearly light key product details. Alternate tight shots showcasing features with wide establishing shots for context. Capture useful B-Roll.
Use overhead shots, light from the side, and move food toward camera. Add B-Roll of ingredients, prep steps and restaurant. Shoot before food cools.
Real Estate Videos
Combine wide static shots showing full rooms with moving gimbal clips highlighting details. Use natural light and practicals.
Events and Performances
Map out key moments to capture ahead of time. Get permission for filming. Use multiple camera angles. Prioritize audio quality.
Look directly into camera lens as if speaking to viewer. Keep compositions casual and conversational while moving through settings.
Compile edited highlights of most visually impressive destinations rather than long monotonous clips. Research and scout shoot locations ahead of time.
Use integrated or third-party editing apps to apply professional finishing touches:
Trim Long Clips
Cut and delete extraneous footage. Keep highlights succinct and engaging.
Adjust Color Profiles
Enhance color, contrast, saturation and brightness for consistent styling.
Add Background Music
Layer complementary music tracks from apps like Artlist at low levels to enhance mood.
Insert B-Roll Sequences
Break up “talking head” shots with supplemental contextual B-Roll clips.
Include Lower Thirds
Briefly display text overlays communicating names, locations, product details.
Apply Transition Effects
Use tasteful crossfade transitions between distinct scenes and sections. Avoid overusing flashy transitions.
Add Custom Titles
Open with stylized titles introducing your brand, video topic and hosts using animated text and graphics.
Render final video then upload to YouTube, social platforms or your website to publish for viewers.
By learning some basic techniques combined with affordable add-on gear, you can shoot extremely high quality videos using just your smartphone. Dedicate time to understanding fundamentals, refining your skills and developing a style to take projects to the next level visually.
- 1 Shooting High Quality Videos with Your Smartphone: Pro Tips for Beginners
- 1.1 Shooting Fundamentals
- 1.2 Gear and Accessories
- 1.3 Useful Smartphone Video Apps
- 1.4 Shooting Techniques and Best Practices
- 1.5 Post-Production Polishing