Sometimes you cannot find or budget for a professional videographer with real equipment. If you must shoot video with a smartphone, here are some basic tips:
HORIZONTAL Rules number 1, 2, and 3: 1. Hold the camera horizontal 2. Keep the camera horizontal 3. Only shoot videos with the camera horizontal
CLEAN LENS Check the lens to make sure it is clean. Use an eye-glasses cleaner cloth or other soft cloth to wipe the lens area.
STAND CLOSE Stand close to the action. This will yield a good close-up view that works with how people now view mostly on mobile devices while helping you capture the best possible audio.
STABILIZE Find a way to stabilize the image. Either use a tripod with a clamp, tape or rubber bands to hold the camera in place or, position the action so you can lean on a wall, a pole or a tree to keep your body from swaying. If you cannot find a tripod or stabilizing feature in the environment, be sure to hold the camera/phone steady by locking your elbow(s) next to your body. The farther the camera is away from you body with outstretched arms the more rocky the resulting image.
FIND THE LIGHT Position the action so it's being lit from the front. Either move the camera or move what you're shooting so the sun or your indoor light source provides enough front light to yield a good video image.
FOCUS/EXPOSURE Before you roll and start shooting, give the camera's auto-focus and auto exposure features enough time to work. You will likely see a little outline of a box lining up with the part of the screen the camera thinks you want to have properly exposed and in focus. You can override these auto features by pressing and holding your finger on the part of the screen you want to have locked in at the right focus and exposure.
REMOTE CONTROL The coolest handy tip for controlling video recording on an iPhone without jerking the camera slightly (not sure if it also works on other devices) is to plug in your headphones and use the Volume Up button to start and stop the recording. This up button can also be used to take photos in photo mode.
TRY SOME APPS When you have a little time to explore and grab some free or inexpensive third-party camera apps, look at FiLMiC Pro and Camera+. I highly recommend trying FiLMiC Pro since it actual records at a higher resolution than the native iPhone camera software.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jim Staylor is a video professional with 30 years experience working on movies, TV news, commercials, video games, and corporate communications. He has managed over 10,000 hours of projects including a great deal of video of live presentations, such as:
Sony Global Leadership Seminars at UCLA Anderson School of Management
Wireless Life Sciences Alliance conferences and educational expos
Random House Publishing presentations at Comic-Con
MIT Enterprise Forum San Diego’s monthly meetings
Continuing Medical Education and Grand Rounds for Sharp HealthCare
Staylor has taught video through The Art Institute, Platt College and the University of California San Diego’s Digital Arts Center. He produced the media training series: “How to Keep Your DO-IT-YOURSELF VIDEO from Looking Like You Did It Yourself.” Jim currently serves as in-house video producer for Sharp HealthCare in San Diego and occasionally teaches and offers video services through Staylor-Made Communications, Inc. For more info, see staylor-made.com