We all shoot video with our smartphones, most of us don't put too much thought behind it, we point and shoot. But when you're trying to capture footage that will resonate with potential customers, you want to make sure the video is as good as the work you're trying to showcase. There are a lot of things you can do to make sure the video you shoot is as good as your work—and worth watching. So here’s a starter guide to help make sure you’re shooting the best video your smartphone allows.
1. Plan Ahead.
As the old saying goes, "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." Before you pull your mobile phone out of your pocket, the first thing you should think about is your brand. How do you want the viewer to see you? Funny, thoughtful, shocking? That's up to you. The one thing I'll say is don't take yourself too seriously. After 30 years in the industry, the one thing I know is that it's about people, not the gear. Why do you think people hire you over your competition? You both sell virtually the same products; you're probably within a few bucks of each other in price. So, why did they choose you? Here's a hint...It's you, not the product. You need to harness that, and put it in your videos. In short, you need to be in the video. Not all the time, but it helps. As you may know, I handle digital advertising for custom integrators across the country. When I'm able to show an integrator in a photo or video, the reach increases at a minimum of 5x. So, wash your hands and get in front of that camera! The next part of planning for the video is knowing what you want to shoot, why you want to shoot it, and how. Think this through before you ever get to the job site. It's best to work up a short script, but if you can't do that, film a short clip, gather your thoughts, and film another clip. The key here is to be in the video! If I see one more video of an integrator holding a Control4 remote, clicking a button and having magic happen without explanation, I may lose my mind. How about explaining to the viewer what went into making that magic happen? The hours, the days, the programming. Explain it to the commoners.
3. Use The Back Camera.
Your goal is consistent video quality. Although the front cameras on mobile phones have come a long way unless you're doing a Facetime or Snapchat video, always use the camera on the back of your phone to record videos.
4. Hold it F#cking Sideways.
There's nothing worse than recording a video in portrait mode. Nothing on Earth. Personally, I think anyone who records a video in portrait mode should have their phones confiscated. We've all seen the offending videos. The entire time you're watching the video all you can think about is..."What's happening in the blurry sidebars"? It's blasphemy.
5. Composition Rules.
The Rule of Thirds—The rule of thirds is a fundamental principle that helps you to compose exciting and balanced shots. It works by imagining that your image divided into nine parts. ... According to the rule of thirds, if you place your subject at the top, bottom, left or right area, then it will make an excellent composition. Lighting- Unless you're going to go full Steven Spielberg there's not much you can do about the lighting in the room. As a general rule, your pictures and videos will turn out better in well lit rooms, so take advantage of the rooms natural lighting. Glare- We all know there's plenty of glare on today's newest televisions. Staying on the side of the TV or closing the blinds can help. Angles- Try filming from multiple, even unorthodox angles. Don't be afraid to bend a rule or two, just make sure what you're doing conforms with the identity of your brand. Do you know what angle I've never seen a picture of a ceiling speaker from? The top of the ladder. Action- One of my clients, sets up a GoPro or smartphone and just starts working. Once done, they edit it down into a time lapse. A few minute video will cover a complete installation. It's video magic!
6. Keep It Clean.
Before filming check the area. Make sure all areas are clean of boxes, stray wire, fingerprints, you might want to move any family photos out of the shot as well.
7. Steady As She Goes.
You can't physically hold the phone steady enough to make a quality video. Don't fret. There are plenty of ways to keep your phone stable and not break the bank. 1. Tripod- Adjustable up to 58" they're inexpensive (less than $20) and don't take up expensive real estate inside the van. Set up on the floor and you're off to the races. 2. Flexible Tripod- Small enough to fit in your pocket or tool bag, these things are great. They wrap around any stick like surface, hold your phone securely, and are great for those tight spots. Wrap it around rafters, rack rails and just about anything. 3. Gimbals- Great for walking tours, highlight videos and more. They give you stability and movement in one genius device. On the downside, they're not cheap. They start around $150.
8. Use Jump Cuts.
If you write out your script ahead of time, you can read it in small segments, or better yet have someone feed you the lines, then create jump cuts during the editing process. The technique is frowned upon in Hollywood, but it's trendy on social channels like Youtube and Facebook. I like jumpcuts, they make creating and editing videos easy, but like everything in life, the key is moderation.
9.5 Share It.
If you don't have a Vimeo or YouTube business account, what are you waiting for? They're the easiest way to share your videos with your minions.
With the popularity of live streaming and video services like Facebook Live, YouTube, Periscope, Instagram and Snapchat, it’s more important than ever to have strong fundamentals for recording video. All it takes is a little practice and work worthy of sharing with the world. If I missed anything, or if you have questions, let me know in the comments.
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