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Filming on your iPhone during CV19

Filming on your iPhone during CV19

With so many of us working remotely due to the CV-19 pandemic, there has been an increased interest in using smartphones to create video content.  It’s mostly for social media use, but we’ve also had clients who wanted their CEO to be able to send update messages to their remote working employees.  On line communications with Zoom, Teams and Remo have brought groups together virtually, however, there is a growing need for communications with clients and employees on a more direct level where they are looking for information that will build confidence for their return to business. The good news is that most smartphones have a good video camera on board, so with a few tips and a little planning you can get some very interesting and memorable footage which will create good memories for the future and help prepare for a confident return to business.

Here are some top tips to help you get good results from filming on a smartphone.

Tip 1. Landscape or Portrait

Please use the VIDEO option on your mobile device in LANDSCAPE mode rather than portrait mode.  This fits with the 16:9 ratio of most screens, and for Instagram it can be post adjusted, just make sure the main image is central.

Tip 2. Lighting

Use natural light rather than artificial and have main the light source (i.e. a window) in front of the subject you are filming rather than behind the subject.  Also, turn off the flash on your phone. Soft diffuse light is better than harsh direct light. If filming in bright sunlight, find some shade for your subject.  You can buy ring lights for your phone, they’re best for static videos but they’re not essential unless you are doing lots of video for training purposes.

Tip 3. Prepare the Scene

Consider the composition of your shots, and move out of sight anything you’d be uncomfortable with your children or grandparents seeing.   If necessary, clear away cups and coats, rearrange the furniture or move things on a desk or table out of the shot, so that the viewer isn’t distracted.  It’s best to use an uncluttered, simple background.

Tip 4. Rule of Thirds

Mentally divide your viewfinder into thirds horizontally and vertically and place your primary point of interest on the intersection of two lines. This applies to both video and stills photography.


Lines of interest should occur at 1/3 or 2/3 of the way up (or across) the frame,  rather than at the centre.  In shots of people in particular, the main line of interest is the imaginary line going through the subject's eyes. So try to place the eyes about 1/3 from the top of the screen.

You can read more about the rule of thirds here.

Tip 5. Get Ready for Action

The camera should be set up at about the head height of your subject.  If you don’t have a phone tripod then use a sock filled with dried peas or rice to provide a stable base for your camera. Do rehearse what you’re going to say so that your message is concise – 90 seconds maximum – and has a clear beginning and end. 

Tip 6. Avoid the Zoom Feature

Although most phone cameras have a good zoom function it’s better to zoom with your feet;  this gives a better, more stable image.  Just move closer to your subject before you start filming. This has the added benefit of giving better audio too, simply because the speaker is closer to the microphone in the camera. Again you can buy plug in microphones but the cheaper ones tend to give a lot of cable noise so probably not really essential for ad hoc pieces.

Tip 7. Where to Stand or Sit

Try not to film with the phone directly in front of your face,  and avoid tilting the phone (this often happens because you’re trying to see the picture on the screen more clearly) as it can distort any vertical lines in the picture, such as walls and table legs and sometimes distort facial features.  If you are filming another person, move closer to them rather than use the zoom function.

Tip 8. Ready to Record

When you press the record button, hold the camera steady and allow the person speaking to tell their story uninterrupted. If you are delivering the story then make sure you are looking at the camera at eye level.  You can also get prompting software online which can help if your story is long and needs to contain facts or figures that must be accurate.  However, using prompting software does need practice otherwise you may start to look like a frightened rabbit on the screen. We use prompting software regularly in our studio, but we also spend time preparing and training our clients to use it naturally as part of their on-screen mentoring session.

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Tip 9.  You’re a Star

Switch off any other mobile phones, and set yours to airplane mode so as not to interrupt your best take, say ‘Are you Ready?’ Then hit RECORD and enjoy the moment.  If things go wrong and there is a sudden rushing past of fire engines or dogs start barking or that proverbial pneumatic drill kicks off, just stop, wait for some quiet and go again.

If after filming you want to get the material professionally edited then you should save the file in an MP4 format and hire a self-edit studio at takeonetv.com or send to our post-production service at where we can add in logos, titles, graphics, music and so on to make your material online ready and a representation of your business brand that you can feel proud of. And at the end of the day, you can utter those immortal words, 'It's a WRAP!'

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