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Yes, you can make a cool video with your smartphone. But how? (Part3 -- Filming)

Updated: Apr 4, 2019


Creating a short marketing video or PSA doesn’t have to be that daunting. With the right and affordable tools and some practice, you can easily create a neat, engaging, and professional video that drives customers to your business and supporters to your nonprofit.

Most importantly, you can get it done without fancy design programs and big budgets.



In our first post, "Yes, you can make a cool video with your smartphone. But how? (Intro)", we summered 5 tips that will help professionalize your phone-recorded video:


Tip 1: Set your goal/objectives

Tip 2: Determine in what way the video will be used (social media, TV, website, etc.)

Tip 3: Find a place that is quiet, clean, and well-lit

Tip 4: Use a tripod or stabilizer when filming

Tip 5: Test the sound, test the sound, and then test the sound again

This week, let’s take a quick look at what can go wrong when filming and how to avoid the shaking, low-quality footage, and horrible audio (Tip 3, 4, & 5) .

Filming: location, lights, sound—anything can go wrong


Filming a video can be stressful.


When one thing goes wrong, the entire project can get off track— and that is why you need to think in advance about where to film, what lights are available for you to use, how you can stabilize the phone camera, and of course, is the sound going to be okay?


Being prepared is always a good idea. To avoid shaking, low-quality footage, and horrible audio, here are some techniques you can use when filming a short video with a smartphone:


Tip 3: Find a place that is quiet, clean, and well-lit


When you record a promotional video, whether it’s a short interview or an announcement, the first thing you need to do is find a place that is relatively quiet with good lighting.


If you are interviewing, let’s say, a director of a non-profit about a fundraiser event, your video would look better if you record the director in front of a clean, blank wall (white or solid color).

Yes, a blank wall can make the interviewee look like he/she is in a professional studio (think about your selfies and headshots).


You will be surprised how differently it turns out if you find that “perfect wall”.






Not joking…my “perfect wall” is the brick wall of my apartment building (…and it’s by a dumpster…).



Though finding a good place for recording is important, making sure the light is right is even more critical. When there is not enough natural light, it’s necessary to bring in more light to increase your footage quality and make the video high-quality and professional.


The easiest way to bring more light is by using a lighting kit.



Tip 4: Use a tripod or stabilizer when filming


First of all, do you have a tripod/stabilizer? — If not, go get one.


If you don’t want to annoy/confuse your audience and make them dizzy by providing a shaky image, trust me, you need a tripod or stabilizer.


When filming, both in- and outdoor, place your phone in a tripod or prop it against books, rocks, a wall, or other objects to ensure it’s stable and upright.


Using a stabilizer or gimbal is another way to make your phone-recorded video look more professional and less “cheap”.


A gimbal would be my first choice. The weight is light, the operation is easy, and the price is friendly. Using a gimbal can help you create nice, smooth, and clean footage for your project.



Tip 5: Test the sound, test the sound, and then...test the sound, again


I can’t remember how many times people have complained to me about the poor sound quality of a video. It’s such a common mistake not to test the audio before filming.


The result is, sadly, you end up with a nice video with poor-quality sound. And all your audience remembers is how bad the sound is.


To avoid this situation, you need to:

Quiet the space even more

Close all windows and doors. Turn off any fans, heaters or other noises in the room.


Record the video with a microphone

Based on your budget, you can easily find an affordable Lavalier microphone in the market. The cheapest one I used for recording a friend’s wedding vows was $17 (after tax).

If you don’t like the long cord showing in the video, try a smartphone grip handle microphone. You’ll be surprised how much it changes the audio quality.


Common Lavalier Microphones

Test the sound

No matter which kind of microphone you pick, don’t forget to test the sound before you begin to film the video.


All you need to do is film a 10-second test video and replay it to see if the sound is good to go — If not, then adjust it until you’re satisfied with the audio quality (clear, not too loud, and not too soft).


Check out this short YouTube video about the basics of audio.


After you’ve done all the things listed above, the last thing you need to do is share your video where you initially planned to. If sharing on social media, carefully read the feedback and incorporate it in your future projects.


As we mentioned earlier, creating a short marketing video or PSA can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be that daunting. With the right and affordable tools and some practice, you could create a neat, engaging, and professional video for your small business or nonprofit.


Need more tips for phone-video and promotional video production? Leave a message below or contact me at yuchenwang.creative@gmail.com.


If you find this blog useful, please share it with your friends!


#VideoTip #VideoProduction

>> Related blog: Yes, you can make a cool video with your smartphone. But how? (Part2 -- Pre-production)

>> Related blog: Yes, you can make a cool video with your smartphone. But how? (Part1 -- Intro)

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