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Online video guide for small businesses: Part 3

creating video with smartphonesAfter reading parts 1 and 2 of this blog post, you’re committed and inspired to make your own video. That’s perfect because here in part 3 I’ll go over what you need to know about creating video by using your smartphone as a video camera. Using your smartphone really is a perfect choice because almost all of them take HD video. I’ve taken a bit of video with my iPhone 6 Plus and it comes out surprisingly good, even in less than ideal circumstances.

So what are ideal circumstances? Let’s take a look at the top three things to know about using your smartphone for creating video and find out.

  1. Hold the phone horizontally. The widescreen aspect angle is better for HD viewing, and generally just looks better anyway. And most TVs, mobiles, tablets, and even computer monitors are in widescreen format these days. So by holding the long side of your smartphone parallel to the ground, you’ll be making sure your viewers get the most pleasing video.
  2. Lighting is important. No video will look good if you have shadows or light that is too bright. Try and take your video in natural sunlight if possible, with the sun behind you so your subject or scene is illuminated well. Make sure your shadow doesn’t get in the way either. If you don’t have sunlight or want something more controlled, you can purchase a set of lights very inexpensively. Even a pair of desk lamps could work. Do a little research, but realise you don’t need those expensive kits for sale. There are plenty of do-it-yourself places on the web where you can find a good solution for your setting.
  3. Sound is probably even more important. While the HD video capabilities of smartphones are really good, their ability to capture sound is much less so. The problem is it captures all sound around, and what is closest to the smartphone is the loudest. You might hear someone talking in your video just fine, but the breathing of the person holding the smartphone is even louder. Or birds, traffic, phones, alarms, fans – anything in the area – can also be heard. It is worth investing in an external mic so you can capture clear audio. Again you’re just a Google search away from finding inexpensive solutions for great audio on a budget. Alternatively you can take your video in a quiet space without any distractions.

Those three are the basics you need to remember for taking video on your smartphone, but here’s one more thing you should know too.

Many smartphone videos are taken “on the go” and you can see the motion of the smartphone. That’s perfectly fine for some kinds of videos. But if you’re trying to take a video of people talking, any shaking of the smartphone will become a distraction. So for shots where you aren’t intentionally walking around, make sure the camera is stable. You can buy an adaptor for many camera tripods so you can mount the smartphone. There are also all sorts of other options that let you mount the smartphone anywhere. Gorillapod is an example. If you haven’t seen them, Gorillapods are bendable tripods that will grip virtually any surface, at any angle. The company sells special smartphone adaptors to hold them safe.

Here’s what your video can look like

There are a lot of businesses taking their own video using smartphones. Most of the ones I’ve found (where they admit to it) are using iPhones and occasionally iPads. Here are two examples showing totally different kinds of videos you can take with a smartphone.

Example 1: Authentic and all about people

This video was taken as a promo piece for a boarding school in the US. The intention was to produce something authentic that spoke to the spirit of the school. See what you think when it’s done.

Would you have thought the video was taken with a smartphone (or iPad)? Whether you thought yes or no, the video did give a good insight into the school from a social perspective. It was authentic and represents the school well.

Example 2: Polished and all about teaching a “how-to”

Just for contrast, I picked a second video that is much more “professional”. It’s polished and well edited with additional graphics. The videographer said he used his iPhone and “about $150 in other equipment” including lighting. He’s also the one talking in the video.

So what about this video? Would you have guessed it was made with an iPhone? I wouldn’t have. Some of the extra equipment he uses is a microphone, so his voice is clear. All put together it’s one professional looking video. But don’t think they have a ton of experience. The videographer commented the company was still “getting its feet wet” relative to video when this was made.

It just proves you don’t need a ton of expensive equipment or years of experience to create a great video for your small business.

In the next and final part of this small business video series, I’ll cover how you can make the most of the videos you make.

Oliver Burt

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