How to make professional-quality smartphone videos
May 5th, 2022

Learn how to make smartphone videos that are the same quality as professional videos by following the same rules that apply to all video-making.

With the advances in technology, many lower-priced smartphones can now take HD videos that look crisp and professional. And some smartphone cameras have gotten so good that even professional filmmakers are using them to make movies.

But one thing a great smartphone won’t give you is the knowledge required to shoot high-quality footage. The basics of lighting, composition, sound quality, and other fundamental aspects of filmmaking apply to all video footage, whether shot on a smartphone or a professional camera.

In this article, we are going to give you 9 core tips to shoot professional-quality smartphone videos right now!

1. Get the right phone

Although cameras are getting better on smartphones, some budget phones are just not going to cut it. Several elements converge to make a great smartphone filmmaking experience. These are:

  • Lens
  • Storage space
  • Frame rate — different frame rates affect the viewing experience
  • Resolution and 4K support
  • Camera software — proper camera software is essential for high-quality smartphone videos.

2. Know about lighting

To create excellent smartphone videos, you need to know about lighting.

Photo-graphy literally translates as Light-Writing or writing with light.

Painters use a brush. Writers use a pen. Photographers and filmmakers use light.

The topic of lighting in video-making is so huge that reading several books on it would not be too much. But here are a few essentials to get you started:

Natural lighting is generally better than artificial light. For indoor shooting, shoot near a well-lit window with the subject lit strongly from one side.

Color-correcting and grading footage is a lot easier when that footage is well-lit.

Shooting early in the morning or just before dusk will give you a better photographic feel than shooting during the stark midday hours. Early morning and early evening light is soft, and the colors come out more forcefully.

After the sun goes down is another excellent time to shoot. The residual light in the sky gives the shot an emotionally powerful feel. The lack of shadows also makes shooting easier, and the colors will look excellent.

3. Music and sound effects

Proper background music can completely change the cinematic effect of a shot. Sad shots can be made sadder, and romantic shots can be made more romantic.

Soundstripe is one affordable option for excellent music tracks to use as background music.

Using a proper microphone is also key. There are many affordable microphones that connect to mobile phones, and which you can use while shooting your professional smartphone video.

4. Software

Video-editing software is the secret ingredient to incredible films.

After all the footage is collected, it needs to be imported into an editor where it will be brought to life.

The editing software is where you add your music, sound effects, and where you piece together the individual clips that will tell the whole story.

Video-editing software can also help you correct things you forgot during the shooting phase, such as panning up or down, or shooting a slide. Your video-editing software can emulate these things to a large degree.

It is essential to know as much as you can about your editing software before shooting. So, take up tutorials or read the help files thoroughly of whatever software you chose to use.

5. Add motion

Proper motion in a shot invites the audience in. A moving camera results in a more cinematic feel to the shot, and literally moves the story along.

When adding motion with a smartphone, it’s important to stabilize the phone as much as possible. Gimbal stabilizers can help here. Many of them, such as the DJI OM4, come with in-built motion-adding features such as a spinning arm, and additional software to help you capture a wide range of stunning motion shots.

6. Set up the space properly (composition)

Artistic composition applies to every visual art. Just as a painting’s composition helps to impart the piece’s overall message, so does a scene’s composition do the same.

A messy room with uneven lines might make the viewer feel uncomfortable and uneasy. If you’re shooting a homemade horror film, that might be okay. If not, you’ll need to ensure your composition is correct.

This includes having the right props in the background. A movie about a book-lover should have at least a few literature-themed props scattered around.

At the very least, tidy up the room you’re shooting in!

7. Use the right camera angle

Shooting too low in a city with gorgeous architecture would cause your footage to miss out on revealing an incredible location.

Similarly, the angle of indoor shots has relevance. Shooting from an angle that is too high or too low will make the shot feel awkward and sometimes jolt the audience.

8. Leverage an awesome location

Although it’s not always possible, sometimes you might find yourself in a dream, once-in-a-lifetime location that will speak for itself on a smartphone video — such as an incredible vista, a stunning mountain range, or the top of a volcano!

If you do, pull out your phone and shoot! Your smartphone footage will be all the better for it.

9. Have a proper storage solution

One problem all filmmakers eventually run into is lack of storage, both for actively-worked-on files and for backups of those files. Making excellent smartphone videos requires an enormous amount of footage.

Not storing that footage properly can result in confusion and lost files, to the detriment of your final product.

Many filmmakers opt for a local NAS (Network Attached Storage) solution which can hold multiple hard drives, and which also typically contains software to sync those local files to cloud storage.

It’s important to know that a NAS that holds too many files can become slow and laggardly when editing footage. So a proper storage solution requires moving “cold” files — those files that are not actively being worked on — to a cloud storage solution.

The most affordable storage solution for filmmakers is decentralized storage because of its enormous storage potential and inherent security.

The only missing piece of the puzzle would then be a proper cloud storage management tool such as Mineral to optimize that cloud storage and so keep its overall storage costs as low as possible.

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