Skillful Video and Filmmaking Techniques: How to capture exciting smartphone video!

She was on edge, her breath came in short gasps, the cold air hitting her face felt like ice, she wondered if she was still alive. A panoramic view – the yawning green valley below her was a paragliders’ utopia – a dream come true. How did she get here? she wondered, the magnificent valley looked like a chasm of death to her.

She was standing on a cliff, a high cliff, suspended in the clouds, about to launch. Mixed emotions swept over her – what if she crushed? what if she died? who would take care of her one year old baby?

Suddenly she was afloat soaring on the currents, free: free from her fears, free of gravity, free to fly.

Beneath her dangling feet, speckled aluminium rooftops of Kerio valley dotted the landscape. Effortlessly she guided her para glider, a distant landing strip beckoned, the whooshing sound of wind was her only companion.

Expert videography is like paragliding, it takes years of training to perfect, never loses its sense of adventure, always exhilarating during execution, always demanding skillful manipulation.

Are you an amateur smartphone videographer? Do you want to learn how  to shoot professional smartphone videos and films, stunning videos of your business and social functions, for your youtube account or Instagram?

You have come to the right place, read on to learn – Expert techniques in smartphone video and filmmaking. Techniques that will help you shoot amazing videos.

Technique # 1 – Shoot in Landscape

Have you ever watched an interesting video on YouTube that unfortunately seemed to have its sides cropped off? How did you feel?

Your T.V, computer monitor, movie screen, and projectors are in landscape, holding your phone upright while shooting your video or film will result in vertical video syndrome (VVS) .

Shooting your video in portrait mode will capture a video that may be interesting but may not fit naturally on the screen. To cure this, always hold your phone in landscape your video will fit naturally on all wide screens.

Technique # 2 – Know your light

Film making and photography is about light, the right light. Professional photographers, filmmakers, and videographer are expert light hunters who have learned how to create the right lighting conditions.

They are opportunists who use the sun’s rays to their advantage. The sun can be both a friend and foe.  The African sun blazes, the bright midday sun is an enemy to your video shoots. Shooting your video in the open without the right equipment will result in your video having glare.

Shoot your  smartphone video in the early hours of morning or late in the evening when the sun has a golden glow. If you are shooting indoors your subject should face the window to avoid shooting a silhouette.

If you must shoot during the day at the sun’s  brightest, work with the sun not against it. let the sun’s rays hit your back as you shoot. Pointing your smartphone camera into the sun when shooting your video is a bad idea.

To avoid the hassle of chasing the right sunlight, or when shooting an indoor video, or when shooting  in a dark place, create the right light. Knowing which lights to use, and where to place them during your smartphone video shoots will result in amazing videos.

This simple yet technical secret is the cornerstone of professional filmmaking and video making, embrace it,incorporate it in your smartphone video shoots the results will be amazing

Technique # 3 – Record clear sound

If you have ever watched a captivating video that was full of action with a plot that had lots of twists and suspense, but whose sound was muffled too low, or at worst grating; chances are that you didn’t watch that video to its end.

The built in microphone on your smartphone will capture some sound, however depending on the environment of your smartphone video shoot, that sound may be of poor quality. Visualize a thrilling movie,shot in a busy street, its background music ringing clear,the subjects voice booming on your stereo speakers.

Creative filmmakers and videographers do not compromise on audio quality. To capture clear audio on your smartphone video, you must be creative. Use another smartphone to record audio, or use the phone’s own recording device if your subject is close to the mic. External audio devices will record clear crisp sound.

Your smartphone’s earphones support external microphones and other USB supported audio devices a quality condenser mic fed into the USB sound card input will give you high quality audio. Make sure your external audio device and your video app support USB-OTG(on the go).

Technique # 4 – Know your frame rate

Frames per second(fps) is a term used by video makers and filmmakers to define the number of frames captured in your footage in order to create a real life scene, most smartphone video cameras shoot  video on 1080p at 30 per second  meaning your video captures 30 frames per every second.

1080p is the standard resolution, the number of pixels in your video. A video shot on 1080p at 24 per second will capture 24 frames per every second, this speed is slightly above our brains’ perception of fluid movement, the video stutter is barely  imperceptible, this creates a fluid cinematic effect. Most movies are shot on 1080p at 24 per second.

Your standard smartphone camera App may not support 1080p at 24 per second,  using an app like Filmic Pro will allow you to shoot your video at 24 fps, your video will have a pleasing cinematic look.

On the other end of the spectrum you may want to shoot a slow motion video. Shooting your video at 60 fps (1080p at 60 per second) will slow it down, shooting the same video at 120fps or 240fps slows it even more. – 120 fps is about five times slower than normal speed, 240 fps is 10 times slower.

Technique # 5 – Storyboard your story

When shooting a smartphone video it’s easy to simply show up and start shooting, this is what you have probably done in the past. Approaching your smartphone video shoots in this way, is like playing roulette – it depends on luck; in most cases you will end up capturing confusing footage.

Storyboarding is a technique used by movie directors to create a sequence of scenes, what story do you want to tell? Where do you want to tell it from?

You do not need to create a professional storyboard which is an art by itself, just remember that a storyboard is a visual representation of your video’s sequence, breaking down every action into individual panels.

Ask yourself what is the main point of your video? What is your major shot? What other shots will act as inserts? Will your video have people? Will they speak what will they do and say? Will you shoot several angles of your scene? Etc

Break down your storyboard, consider details of every scene, what is the physical space of your shot? Will you have costume or props? What are the key elements that will affect your scenes?

Know the location, costumes, props, sets, cast members, and the importance of each element to the overall production of your video.

Technique # 6 – Shoot 4K video

The current standard native resolution is 2K meaning a resolution of 2048 X 1080 pixels that show on Ultra High Definition (UHD).

Digital cinema projection on the other hand is shot on a resolution of 4K that is 3840 X 2160 pixels, or four times larger than Full HD and twice as wide.

A number of smartphones are now capable of shooting  4K video, however you may not need to shoot your video on 4K since some people won’t have the ability, or even choose to watch the video in 4K.

Why shoot your video in 4K then?  Three reasons:-

One you will capture more details, alternatively, shooting on 4K gives you more maneuverability during editing,for example you can crop frames in a scene without losing the video’s quality.

Secondly you are proofing your video against the  future, not too long in a few years almost all screens will be capable of 4K resolution or even higher.

Finally since shooting your video on 4K helps you capture as much details of your scene as possible, unfortunately, this comes with the downside of taking up more space.

Technique # 7 – Perfect video editing skills

Having shot your video, it may be tempting to simply upload raw clips, seat back and wait for the subscriptions and likes to come in, this may never happen.

To give your video a professional chance, edit your raw clips. Your smartphone camera app has a number of inbuilt editing features, which can help you trim the length of your video and apply a few filters.

To professionally edit your video; add special effects, background music, sound, merge scenes, and much more, you must use a video editing app.

In conclusion

In summary the result of correctly applying these seven techniques while shooting your smartphone video will place your video in the professional league. Your video will be enjoyable to watch and will help you communicate clearly and succinctly to your audience.

Last word of advise, always carry a spare battery, or a portable charger/power bank during your video shoots, battery tends to drain faster when shooting video on your smartphone.


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