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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!

Shooting Fundamentals

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.

Frame Tightly

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:

Moment Lenses

Clip-on lenses like fisheye, telephoto and anamorphic provide effects like adjustment of field of view, flare, focus fall-off and bokeh.

External Mics

Improves sound quality dramatically. Consider lapel mics, shotgun mics or adapters for XLR pro mics. Brands like Rode and Shure make smartphone compatible options.

Gimbals

Motorized gimbals like DJI OM 5 smooth out handheld movement. Useful for action shots while walking and moving.

Tripods

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.

External Batteries

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:

Filmic Pro

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.

CapCut

Full-featured editing app with an intuitive workflow tailored for short form vertical content. Popular with social media creators.

fiLMiC DoubleTake

Allows recording video from both front and back cameras simultaneously for creative visuals and tutorials.

Hyperlapse Apps

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.

Selfie Videos

Position camera slightly above eye level for a flattering angle. Use bursts of natural light. Enhance skin smoothing and background blur in post.

Product Demos

Clearly light key product details. Alternate tight shots showcasing features with wide establishing shots for context. Capture useful B-Roll.

Food Videography

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.

Vlogging

Look directly into camera lens as if speaking to viewer. Keep compositions casual and conversational while moving through settings.

Travel Videos

Compile edited highlights of most visually impressive destinations rather than long monotonous clips. Research and scout shoot locations ahead of time.

Post-Production Polishing

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.

Export and Share

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.

By Dani Davis

Dani Davis is the pen name of the writer of this blog with more 15 years of constant experience in Content marketing and informatics product, e-commerce niche.

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