From Professional Production to Homemade Collaboration

Normally when a business wants a video, they hire a professional videographer or a marketing firm like Estland to produce it. But the coronavirus pandemic is anything but normal times. Filming videos in-person or on-location has become difficult — in many cases, impossible.

However, file transfers and video editing can be done online, in-house at Estland. To prevent the spread of the virus, we are recommending that clients shoot their own videos on their phone and send the video files to us via a service like Dropbox or Google Drive to be edited. Those videos can be broadcast as pre-recorded Facebook Live webcasts, video ads for Instagram or Facebook, or YouTube videos and pre-roll ads.

Here are some tips and tricks for capturing the best cell phone video possible.

Stabilize Your Shot

No one likes to watch shaky videos. Most new phones have some sort of digital image stabilizer setting for video, which is better than using no stabilizer. However, for best results:

  • Hold the phone in the horizontal (not vertical) position and make sure the phone lens is approximately eye-level with the person speaking.
  • Whenever possible, use a phone tripod, gooseneck clamp, or gimbal. Estland uses the Freefly Movi gimbal with the wide angle lens and accompanying app that allows for one-person productions.

Cell phone video stabilizer for social media video

Audio Is More Important Than You Think

Even the most beautifully executed shot will lose the viewers’ interest if it sounds like it was recorded in a high school gym, or if wind is constantly whipping across the mic. Phone cameras can zoom in, but microphones can’t, so get the microphone close to the person speaking to reduce reverb.

  • Record your videos in a quiet location, and position the phone close to the person speaking. Use a fuzzy windshield on the mic if you’re recording outside in the wind.
  • Use a wireless lav mic or a directional microphone. Rode offers several good options for mobile phone video.

Film in Diffused, Indirect, or Horizontal Lighting

The cost of LED video lights has dropped significantly in recent years. Companies like Neewer and GVM offer several affordable options that use daylight-balanced LEDs.

But you don’t need lights to make your video look good. If you’re shooting video outside, film in the early morning or early evening “golden hour” sunlight. Try to avoid overhead lighting, or “high noon” vertical sunlight that will cause eye shadows or squinting hosts.

business man smiling to camera near a window with indirect sunlight

When filming indoors, try to film near a window with soft, even, indirect sunlight. When a person is speaking to the camera, they should ideally be framed like the person in the photo above. Zoom the video all the way out (not in), and position the phone close to the subject. Don’t cut off the top of their head, but don’t leave much space, either. The bottom of frame is typically mid-chest.

When filming product demos, make sure the items are not backlit (light source behind the subject).

We look forward to the day when we can film with clients with a full video crew again. Until then, we will get creative and work with you to produce the best quality videos for your business that you are able to record on your phone. Contact us, and we can discuss options that will work for you.

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