Clients are always asking “how can I take better video with my phone?” or “how do I avoid the black bars on the sides of my videos?” and finally, “can you use this video for social media marketing?” Of course we can – the question is if you want to pay for enhancements or just start off from the beginning with a good, high-quality video. Let’s be honest – phone capabilities today are wonderful! Many of the cameras in our phones are better than the DSLRs and professional cameras out there (like my Samsung S21 Ultra – 8k video? Yes please.) Let’s dive into using our phone like a pro.
Those two black bars on the sides of your video are unsightly and distracting. To avoid this, make sure you always record in landscape orientation and not portrait. What does that mean?
Keep your phone horizontal (my kindergarten teacher called this the hamburger way) instead of vertical (how you would normally hold it to text, make a call or swipe through Facebook.) Keeping your filming landscape captures more of the scene you are recording and is easier to view on your monitor, tablet or television.
#2 – To center or not to center.
Framing in your subject is another important trick. You can completely fill the “frame” or video with just your subject. You can also film them to the left a little or to the right – which can be dramatic and look cool. Practice and go with what you prefer. Your brand may be more professional and formal – thus you should film centered… And you may want to avoid filming with the garbage can in sight or a pile of boxes.
Concerned about shakiness or need to record yourself? Invest in a desktop tripod or one that extends to the floor. These are well worth the investment – and it may only cost you around $10!
#3 – Zooming in or out.
Zooming causes pixeling. You just learned how to make your video look more professional using the landscape method- but now by zooming in, it is getting real ugly… I mean grainy. Instead of pinching and zooming – you need to move. Yes, there are tools and methods for zooming using your phone, but it should be avoided. The person doing the filming should be the one to move. You’ll avoid that over pixeling and instead you’ll have a very crisp picture.
Does your subject look like they have jaundice or lasers coming from their eyes? Are they in a well lit space but the video makes it look dark? It’s their lighting. Smartphones have wonderful LED lights…that are not conducive to filming. ***Aside, since I wrote this phones have really made strides! Take a test shot – your new phone may not need as much lighting assistance than I’m offering.*** Try to find a well-lit room instead of using your flash.
One thing to keep in mind though when fiding a well-lit room is to have the window or light source be behind you and not your subject.
Editing is a necessary evil but luckily you don’t need to be versed in the Adobe Suite to leave your mark. There are apps for every phone (Android, Windows and iPhone) that will make your video look professional with trimming, transitions, titles and effects.
Remember to tell your subject “Chin up and smile!” because you are ready for basic filming!