Today’s smartphones are incredible devices. They have more computing power on board than the majority of PCs had just a few years ago. And the great thing is that they all have high-definition cameras as standard – back and front.
It means that it’s never been easier to produce online video – in fact, there’s no longer any excuse NOT to make them so long as you follow a few simple rules.
The first rule is NEVER HAND HOLD the phone when shooting video for business. It’s fine when you’re making a movie about your holiday but not when you want to deliver a message. You need to look more professional and a video ‘selfie’ is not a professional look. It’s also tempting to hold the camera the wrong way – upright, the way you use your phone. But we don’t watch video, TV or films like that. We watch them widescreen. So remember to turn the phone on its side when filming.
It’s easy to find an affordable tripod from Amazon or eBay. This one is currently on sale for £20 ($30 or €22). Desktop ones are fine – but you need to position them so that the phone is at eye level. A tripod by itself however is not much use. Unlike a dedicated camera, a smartphone doesn’t come with any way of attaching it. But there are several specially designed clamps which will do the job perfectly. Some have been designed specifically for iPhones. That means that if you’ve a Samsung Galaxy S4 or S5 for instance then it will be too big for the clamp. But this one from Jobi has a powerful spring inside which means it can hold anything up to a Galaxy Note. The two simply screw together and you have at least the start of a mini-studio.
The second rule is DON’T USE THE PHONE’S MICROPHONE. That microphone is designed to be used while holding it very close to your face. You’re certain to be sitting or standing a few feet away from the camera so it will pick up all the ambient noise in the room as well. I know there are all sorts of Bluetooth, hands-free devices but they’re not that great either. And once again, having that ear-piece doesn’t really look that great. So invest in a tie-clip (or Lavalier to give it the correct name) microphone. You have to make sure it’s designed for use with a smartphone because they have a different jack from a standard audio plug. This one is made by Rode and costs £35 ($50 or €40). The microphone needs to be attached about a hand-span below your chin.
The final things to think about in this section are light and location.
Light is particularly important when using a smartphone because the lens is so small. The best solution is to use natural light wherever possible. However, it’s best not to have sunlight come streaming in the window straight on to you. That’s too harsh. It’s a much better idea to sit near a north-facing window. Even then, it can actually be rather a good idea to sit not quite side on to the window and use a piece of card (or a reflector if you have one) to light up the other side of your face. It’s quite a flattering effect.
Location is also important. The last thing you want is to have people concentrating on the plant that appears to be growing out of your ear. You also want a location that’s reasonably quiet – or, if there is any noise in the background, it’s something that can be easily explained by the context. So if you’re recording in an office and there’s a certain amount of chat, ringing phones, etc, then making the recording with that in the background. You finally need a space where there isn’t to much of an echo. Radio studios are draped with cloth to dampen that kind of effect. You don’t need to go to that trouble but just pick a room with books or curtains or a lot of space!
The next choice you have to make is whether to shoot with the front or the back camera – assuming the phone has two (as most do). The back camera usually records in higher quality. But it also means that someone else has to set up the shot for you and then hit the record button. That leaves the front camera if you want the complete DIY solution.
When framing the shot, go through the various menus in the camera and make sure that the frame guide is turn on. That brings a grid on to the screen which splits it into thirds. The bottom third is where you put any captions. Your head and shoulders should just about fill the screen with the eyebrow on the line of the upper third. It also helps to be slightly off-set rather than straight on – it’s a personal choice but it looks a little better that way.
All you have left to do for the time being is decide on content – well, you should really have thought about that before you set up the equipment. There’s another post which looks at that whole issue.
KineMaster Home Screen
When you’ve recorded your masterpieces (one video producer who helps clients gets them to record 25 1-2 minute videos in a three hour session!), what do you do with it? You can’t simply upload the raw footage to YouTube or any other channel without editing it. In fact, you CAN upload to YouTube where there is a simple editor – but everyone who’s tried it agrees that, for the moment at least, it’s dreadfully slow. One producer claimed that it took several DAYS before her video finally was ready in its completed state.
It is possible to edit video on the phone itself – though it is a little fiddly! Because we don’t use iPhones, we’ve looked at what’s available on Google Play (its app store). There, you will find dozens of video editors waiting for you to download. The majority of them are not worth considering – several crashed the moment we tried loading a video file. The editor supplied by Samsung wasn’t that great either. It’s definitely worth checking the star rating and reading some of the comments. The one that seems to be best is a paid app called KineMaster Pro which you can download for £1.73 (€2 or $2.50). It’s an astonishingly versatile piece of software with features that some desktop applications don’t have. And for the simple kind of videos which most business people might want, it’s so simple and straightforward, even to the point of adding titles and credits. There’s also a really good training video on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPMs4cy10Hc
made by someone who calls himself the HiTech Nomad!
Since this feature is all about making video on a smartphone, that’s evidence that you CAN do it all!