How to produce killer videos with just your smartphone

Creating high-quality video doesn’t require professional equipment. Thanks to smartphones, budding videographers have everything needed to successfully create high-quality video in their pockets.

You have the equipment, but how can you ensure that you capture the necessary shots to make your vision come to life? 

Let’s start with the basics. Here are 4 things you should keep in mind when recording on your smartphone: 

1. Know your strengths and weaknesses

Knowing the strongest and weakest points of smartphones when shooting is the first step. 

One of the strengths of the smartphone is that it is more portable than professional cameras and can capture more angles. Typically speaking, modern smartphones like the iPhone 12 and 13 have very good image and sound quality. 

Unfortunately, smartphones also have weaknesses. They can overheat during long shoots, especially if you are outside in the sun on a hot day. While the newer iPhones go a long way towards fixing this issue, they still underperform in low-light environments, and there are less editing possibilities with footage compared to professional-grade camera footage. 

Ultimately when deciding what equipment to use, consider your budget and end goal. Most campaigns don’t need fancy equipment to bring to life what they want to communicate.  

2. Lighting

Lighting dictates moods and is a crucial component of any shoot. If you’re shooting a subject speaking directly to the camera, try using a key light

A key light operates as the primary source of light in your scene and it is meant to light the subject/object in the video. If you’re shooting a subject speaking to camera, we recommend you use high-key lighting, which will help you express a bright, clear atmosphere. This is done by evening the light in the scene, avoiding shadows or high contrasting areas.

To further optimize your lighting setup, incorporate a fill light and back light, and background light. A fill light eliminates shadows caused by your key light. Your fill light should be about 25% of your key light’s brightness. A back light illuminates the subject from behind and creates a light silhouette that will make your footage look more professional. A background light will help match the rest of the scene lighting.

You can also use low-key lighting to set a darker, mysterious, atmosphere. This lighting emphasizes shadows, has high contrast and a large lighting ratio. It works well for creating suspense, for example.

There are infinite possibilities with lighting. You can try yourself and discover what works best for you. You’ll see how colors, shapes, and shadows change according to the light setup that you use.

3. Camera position

When it comes to camera position, you can use a fixed camera shot or a moving camera shot. Decide which you’re going with depending on the type of video you’re creating. 

A fixed camera shot will be useful if you already have moving elements inside the scene or you’re looking for a more minimal shot.  A moving camera shot will give you more possibilities if you’re looking to make a more dynamic video. 

Additionally, the angle you choose can transform a scene and make a subject or object look different. For example, if you want to make an object look bigger or more important, you can try placing the camera at floor height to capture a low-angle shot.

If you want to make something look smaller, you can try using a high-angle shot.

4. Editing

The final step is editing. Once you have all the footage you need and are ready to edit, it’s helpful to have an outline of how you want all of your shots to come together and flow. 

There are many editing software options on the market. A+G recommends using Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro. They’re both pretty intuitive and user-friendly, and you can find plenty of tutorials online if need be. We recommend this Video Copilot plugin if you’re looking for a particular effect or plugin.

When shooting a subject speaking directly to camera, a large body of data shows that lower-production value videos can create more engagement and come off as more authentic. This creates a more intimate environment and signals trustworthiness. However, when shooting a product commercial, people base their trust in how well-produced this video is. If you’re shooting a direct-to-camera video, we recommend you keep it as simple as possible, focusing on the light setting, and having a nice, clean shot of your subject looking directly at the camera. 

The Upshot

With smartphones getting increasingly sophisticated, it’s become possible to shoot high-quality video on the go without expensive video equipment. By being creative and trusting instincts, marketers and campaigners can create exceptional video products with just the equipment they carry around in their pockets. Experiment and try new things to find your own style and find what works best for you, your budget, and your audience.