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Shoot Better Video With Your Phone: Best Practices

You don't need to be a professional when it comes to shooting high-quality video on your own these days.

Creating a video or going live on social media with a smartphone or tablet can look just as good as a professional recording. Here are some key tips to keep in mind.

Always Shoot Horizontal / Landscape / Sideways

The first instinct for most smartphone and tablet users is to hold their device upright instead of on its side. But by simply turning the device horizontally instead of vertically, the video is optimized for all screens rather than just mobile devices. In other words, viewers can watch the video or live broadcast on a computer monitor, laptop or TV screen, just as they would a TV show or movie.

Smooth and Steady Pleases Viewers

While filming, put your phone on Do Not Disturb Mode to prevent the video from stopping or catching the noise or vibrations if you receive a notification while recording. Keep the phone as still and level as you can, unless you’re shooting something where you’ll be moving. This will keep the video from shaking so it’s easier to focus on the main object and so the image doesn’t appear to be low quality or unprofessional.

You also want to hold your shots for much, much longer than you think. Stay locked on your shot a few seconds after the "action" ends. Your post-production editor will thank you.

It may be tempting, but don’t use the zoom tool on smart phones while creating videos. This will lower the quality of the video. Instead, just move closer to the object. If you’re moving toward the object during the video, move slowly so the image stays clear.

Get closer

Smartphones are quite bad at recording video when the subject is standing far from the camera. You will get more noise in the shoot, the subject is more likely to be out of focus and the overall image quality of the video will be lower.

Most smartphone cameras have a relatively high field of view, meaning they can capture a wider shoot even if you can really close to what you want to shoot. So don’t hesitate to get really close to your subject. This will improve the image quality, mainly by focusing better.

Disable the auto-focus feature

If your smartphone’s camera software allows it, adjust the settings manually so that it allows you to capture the best quality shots depending on the particularities of each situation.

Manually set the exposure and focus so that everything looks as good as it can under the given circumstances. Auto-settings might be easier and faster to use, but will not allow you to get the best looking video every time and if you're not paying attention, auto-focus can screw up your videos badly.

So make sure to turn that off and use manual focus. In case your smartphone camera’s software doesn’t allow it, install a different app such as Open Camera for Android.

Increase Your Phone's Video Quality

On the iPhone, open your Settings app and then tap Camera. Next choose the Record Video option and you'll see lots of video resolution and frame rate choices.

You'll have different settings available depending on which iPhone model you have.

The best video settings available will be on the iPhone XS, which will support:

  • 720p HD at 30fps

  • 1080p HD at 30fps

  • 1080p HD at 60fps

  • 4K at 24fps

  • 4K at 30fps

  • 4K at 60fps

Often the best settings are going to be 4K at 30fps, which will give your editor more latitude.

In the stock Android Camera app, you take these steps:

Touch the Control icon, touch the Settings icon, and then choose the Video Quality command.

Select 4k 30fps from the onscreen menu. If 4K is not available, select 1080p 30fps

Resolution and video quality for the front-facing camera are set by switching to the front camera and then following the same steps. The resolution and quality choices are more limited, however, because the front-facing camera is not as sophisticated as the rear camera.

Set the resolution or video quality before you shoot!

After Filming

Make sure the video is saved on your phone. You don’t want to get home after you put everything away and realize you don’t have the video and then have to go set everything up again. Although you may just be uploading the video straight from your phone to your social media pages, it’s a good idea to save the video on your computer as well.

If your video is large, you may want to follow these techniques to get videos off your iPhone and follow these techniques to get them off your Android.

Now you have more video know-how!

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