Making a video with the technology you have in your pocket is easier than you think.
Enterprise Screen creates professional videos for websites, presentations and broadcast but we know that there are plenty of people out there that want to give it a go. In this short article, Creative Director, Jamie Smith writes about the best way to make one yourself using your phone and some simple apps. Of course, nothing is better than a professional production and we\d love to help you but there is some fun and great learning involved in trying it yourself. If you are a charity, a startup, a health professional, an established business or even work for a large corporation, you can benefit from making a quick and simple video.
I suppose the first thing to point out is that I firmly believe that video works- it works for your business, your organisation, your marketing, your products, your message. Its also fun and engaging- everyone knows the fun to be had of editing together a few videos of a family gathering, even with some stills and music in there using one of the free online tools. It will bring you results- its great to share, its great to watch and people respond to video.
We make video every day- this involves careful planning, professional skills, tools and processes but we know that you can make a simple and effective video yourself and start gauging the return you can get from your audience. We want you to try video and see what it can do for your message and your business. So many online videos are dull, badly made and completely miss the mark- this short article puts together some of my top tips for making a video that is fun, simple, exciting and with your message communicated with a dynamic and engaging clip.
If you have a reasonably modern smartphone then it will be capable of high-quality (almost HD) video. I personally vote with the iPhone as the integration with iMovie is very effective but there are sure to be other alternatives out there for other products. You can apply all of these tips to any phone however.
Working with your camera
1- Start using your phone to capture video.
Unusual as this may sound, not many people use the video function on their phone too often. Pictures are very popular but the video function can be something worth looking at to get familiar with. Set up some shots when you are out a walk- take a few videos and see what they look like and review before the next step.
2- Work out how best to hold your phone for video.
There is a classic mistake that is made so much it is annoying (I know, but now Ive told you I bet you start noticing it more and giving a disapproving grunt!). Phones naturally sit in your hand in portrait (thats taller than it is wide), however, most phones are capable of shooting both pictures and videos in widescreen 16:9 format. That means turn the phone on its side and shoot video that way- make sure you turn the phone first before pressing record as it will stay in portrait if you are filming already with that profile.
Holding a phone in your hands is tricky- its not as easy to get smooth shots or to keep the picture from rocking back and forwards. This is not insurmountable but it is hard to get right. There are a number of grips on the market (from around £12-£20) that gets around this problem really well. We have used them several times in the past few months when helping our clients make their own film sequences and it proves to be really impressive.
3- Download the app you want to use and practice with the available formats.
In iMovie for iPhone and iPad there are several free to use trailer settings that combines music, graphics and your videos in a really fun and creative sequence. They are a little pastiche of real movie trailers but they work very well for quick and fun messages/videos/promos. Other software and some online editing places also have similar offerings. The example on this page uses one of these presets and you can see them in action by looking at this link of online videos made with iMovie.
It is important to look at the presets and take note of the example clips- this will allow you to see how they use the text to develop the narrative structure.
I would recommend watching some examples through and making notes of what the narrative is doing so that you can effectively replace this with your own text and still make use of the music and dramatic effect of the sequences- the way the app places clips together in various shapes and sizes.
Shoot the video
Once you have all of your planning done- you have picked the little trailer sequence and style you want as well as planned the narrative, you need to go and get your shots.
1- Get more footage than you need
Always clear enough space on your phone for as much footage as you can get but still be sparing with shots- theres no point in filming for more than 10 seconds on a single shot as it will not be used- keep the format of the trailer in mind. Each shot is only ever a second or two long.
HD footage quickly fills up a phone!
2- Plan your shots
Again, using the narrative structure you have written down, get creative about the shots. If this is a product pitch then pick out the detail you can get- give the audience some simple camera moves and dont always focus on the product- a focus pull (where you focus on something else and then change in the middle of the shot) can be really effective. Just touch the points you want to focus on the screen- this can be tricky! Show people using the product/service. Have responses that are happy and smiling (if appropriate) and use the camera to surprise- its a tiny camera and you can literally put it anywhere. Get down low, up high, move around things-really have fun with the shots.
3- Use the camera with the limitations in mind (see above)
Never try to capture sound on a phone camera for use in your video. The advantage of using the preset trailers is that it uses music and onscreen text. The most obvious and unfortunate part of unprofessional video is the use of bad sound. We always work hard to ensure our sound is the best it can be but the iPhone just isnt capable of it- particularly if there is any other background noise. You can buy some reasonably effective small microphone attachments however and these start at around £50 online for an iPhone 5 Mic. The iMovie software does allow you to progress and create more comprehensive videos- this is a really powerful piece of software so do get using it. My big piece of advice is definitely get hold of a mic or at least plan for using the phone for audio in a very close and specific way.
There are also limitations with the visuals you can get but this is the same with every camera. Most digital and phone cameras do boast a digital zoom but try not to use this- simply get closer! If you intend on using movement, practice the shot you are going for time and time again to get the moves right- again, if you are using the phone in your hand (as opposed to in a cradle or on a grip) then this will be a lot harder. The worst part of a phone-made film is if the image wobbles due to your hand moving forwards and back on the vertical axis. It makes the screen actually wobble when you play it back. Even simple moves like a pan left to right or down to up can be challenging with a phone camera.
Post-production (professional editing)
As you will now be familiar with your preset format from the software then it will be simple enough for you to drop your titles and imagery in. A few things to keep in mind
1- Text needs to tell the story
You only have a few lines of text to get your message across. The visuals will highlight what you are saying and give depth and meaning but the narrative needs to come from your titles. At the start of the process, you can make sure you get this planned- think about what you are saying in the piece.
In our example film, we use the text to drive you to a conclusion about the product. The visuals simply show you the product in use. There are of course a lot of key visuals that could have been used in this film but there simply was not enough time to do- an establishing shot where we would have seen the play apparatus in context with the school before the kids are playing on it would have been ideal, perhaps more close ups on the hands, some of the safety elements highlighted-but you know what they say about working with Children!!
2- Only use the best visuals you have
Make sure the film uses your best shots and that you select only the best bits of those shots. If you are not 100% happy, dont use it. In a short video like this you are best not to repeat shots but there is always a reason to do this if you want to emphasise a point in the text or story. Lighting can play a big part in your final piece- these phones do not perform too well in low light conditions. If you are intending on filming inside, make sure it is brightly lit.
3- Check then double check before uploading
Spend some time previewing your film before exporting it and uploading- even get another person to check it through. Once you have spent a long time looking at the screen you may miss simple spelling or grammar errors. Once you are happy, save the video to the format you like and get it uploaded.
So, those are the steps- I think we said 3 easy steps and it looks more like 9! The main headings will lead you to make a better short video with your phone. We would of course love to see any efforts you make after reading this piece- we cannot guarentee to get back to everyone but if we can offer any further tips or advice then please contact us.
If you have tried, enjoyed, found a reaction and think you want to go to the next level with a professional production then wed be even more delighted to speak to you. We work with businesses of all shapes and sizes with budgets tiny and microscopic (as well as the odd beautifully funded epic). Let us know your ideas for a video production and we can really change the world!