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How To Film With A Smartphone

Video marketing is a powerful visual tool, and a great way to reach new audiences, increase engagement, and to grow your small business. 90% of consumers[1] say that video helps them to make a purchasing decision, and 88% of marketers[2] say video gives them a positive ROI.

The effects of video marketing are becoming increasingly evident in the business world, but it can be challenging for a small business owner to know where to start. How do I know this? Because I was you. I now have nearly 20-years of experience under my belt as a small business owner, working within UK TV broadcasting, and I am a massive digital geek!

In the early stages of a business start-up, I know how difficult it is to decide what to invest in to start to grow quickly. Due to the advances in technology, one area you certainly don’t need to pump large amounts of cash into is your camera set up – if you have a smartphone, you’re good to go.

This post will include some great tips on how to create professional marketing videos using just your smartphone.

Top Tips for Filming with a Smartphone

The quality of the average smartphone camera has improved so greatly that it is now pretty standard practice for many business owners to use their mobiles to film their content. However, there is a small degree of skill involved to ensure the content produced looks professional.

Below I have explained the top tips for filming with a smartphone that I know to be the most crucial.

Look at the Lens

Now, this may seem an obvious one, but it is tricky to master, and it can often seem unimportant to even consider. How many of us get distracted by our own faces during Zooms and video calls? You really can’t afford to do this when you’re talking to your target audience.

Consumers want to feel spoken to, and for that to happen, you have to look as though you’re talking directly to those on the other side of the screen – which means eye contact. People pick up on non-verbal cues like eye-contact and facial expressions, and judge by them (rightly or wrongly).

A lack of eye contact can give the impression of you being a little shifty or untrustworthy.

Thankfully today, in the real world, there is a considerable increase in things like Autism awareness, and those in the know won’t think twice about a lack of eye contact. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always apply to the relationship between business owner and consumer.

Suppose you’re using the camera on the back of your phone, opposed to the front-facing selfie-cam (which is a lower resolution, resulting in lower picture quality). In that case, you’ll likely have 2-3 different lenses to look at. To help you identify which one to look at when filming, stick a post-it note or bright sticker next to the correct lens to ensure you’re maintaining eye contact throughout.

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Check Your Camera Resolution

Video resolution on smartphones refers to the number of pixels the video will contain. The more pixels, the more details your smartphone is taking in. Today, most smartphones are around 4K, which means 3,840 pixels wide and 2,160 high; more than adequate for shooting video.

You need to check your phone settings to ensure that you’re filming in one of the following settings: 1080P HD: 30 frames per second, 60 frames per second, or 24 frames per second.

Shooting in 4K will use up a lot of memory, so upgrading your storage with an additional SD card may be necessary. It is always a good idea to check your memory before shooting to ensure you have enough room for the completed video.

Film in Landscape

Filming content in landscape orientation over portrait is generally more aesthetically pleasing and better for viewers watching on a widescreen. Landscape will allow you to fit more into the shot, so it is ideal for product demonstrations, instructional videos, and videos featuring more than one person.

Have Good Lighting

Natural lighting is the most flattering light, but it isn’t something we can rely on, especially in the UK when wet and dull is the staple weather condition. I would advise investing a little in lighting, and you can buy things like kits and rings to create great lighting for your smartphone that are effective and affordable.

Consider your Setting

The setting you have has the ability to make or break your video. Some things to consider when shooting video content with a smartphone include:

  • Throughout content shoots, use the same setting to provide a seamless, professional, and recognisable theme to your viewers.
  • Eliminate distractions. It is amazing what can catch a consumer’s eye over the main focal point of a video, from joggers and buses out of the window to a table-top aquarium nearby. Try to make sure that there is nothing distracting for viewers in the setting.
  • Ensure the setting reflects the brand. If you’re a high-end business, charging consumers a lot of money for professional services or products, yet you’re clearly filming in a local coffee shop, this isn’t fitting with your brand. Alternatively, if you’re portraying yourself as a fun and wacky company yet filming in a corporate office, it just doesn’t match.

If you’re filming at home, make sure your backdrop is free from clutter. You could film a quick test video and watch it back to see what the shot includes before committing to shooting a full video and then spotting a pair of dirty socks in the background!

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Check the Sound Quality

Background noise can really ruin the sound experience for viewers and can be as little as a TV playing in another room or traffic whizzing past an open window. Filming in a quiet location allows viewers to clearly hear what you’re saying. Again, you can shoot a test video to play it back and see if you pick up on any undesirable sounds.

Use a Tripod

A tripod is essential. This nifty bit of kit is super affordable but highly efficient at stabilizing the smartphone to minimise the risk of any shaky content. A tripod also means that you can shoot the content entirely on your own, reducing any expenditure costs for staff or hired help to be present.

If you haven’t got a tripod now and want to start filming your video content today, then you can use a stack of books, laptop stand, or even a lunch tray; anything that’s above table height, firm and secure.

Rounding Up

Video marketing can seem overwhelming at first, but it isn’t difficult once you get to grips with what matters and what doesn’t. I hope this blog has simplified things somewhat and provided some helpful insights.

Once you’re an expert at filming your video content with your smartphone, you’ll soon learn just how much more engaging it is than simple text. Video is also incredibly versatile and can be used on your social media channels, brand website, and within your emails, all from your mobile phone!

Good luck and happy filming!


[1] CampaignMonitor

[2] Wyzowl

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