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General filming tips

One of the best ways to explain your science is through the use of video. Here are some basic tips for making your videos look professional.

Cover Photo: Mueller / MSC, MSC 2014 Smartphone-Audience Mueller MSC2014, CC BY 3.0 DE

  • Place the camera at eye level so you and the audience are on even ground.
  • Make sure your lens is clean
  • Film both close-ups and wide shots. Don’t bore your audience with endless clips. Shoot a lot of B-roll. It’s important to get extra footage for transition scenes and close ups. Capture as much variety as possible.
  • Shoot in sequences
  • Videofiles can get very large very quickly. Check in your settings how much space you have available. Try to have half of your devices capacity spare. If there isn’t that much space left, you can record more, if you reduce the resolution of your video.
  • Respect the „rule of thirds„: It maintains the idea that the subject need not be at the center of the video.
  • Make sure you’re filming horizontally.
  • Keep the shots simple.
  • Securely mount your smartphone to a tripod. Please make sure that all the buttons are not covered and accessible. Otherwise you might have problems with the volume.
  • Connect an external microphone to your smartphone. Now place the microphone near the speaker’s mouth. Ideally the microphone can be fixed on a shirt or jacket collar.
  • Put your phone in flight mode. Doing this will mean that you will not be interrupted by calls or text messages, and the Wi-Fi will not interfere with the recording.
  • Lock the focus: Remember to have what you want to film in focus. Tap on the screen where you want to focus. There is a function for locking the focus. On iPhones this button is called AF/AF lock.
  • Be aware of the lighting. Film from the light’s direction, and avoid filming towards the light. If you want to correct the lighting, there are buttons to raise or lower the exposure.
  • If you’re shooting handheld without a tripod, bring your elbows into your ribs, with your arms tight against your body for a stable shot.

For more tips, check out this piece from Adobe Press.

Workshop: How to make a short documentary with a smartphone

Filming with a smartphone is fine. Bild: Intel Free Press, Mobile Video on Apple iPhone 5, CC BY-SA 2.0
Filming with a smartphone is fine. Bild: Intel Free Press, Mobile Video on Apple iPhone 5, CC BY-SA 2.0

Part 1: The best apps for making videos

Part 2: Mobile journalism must haves

Part 3: General filming tips

Part 4: Michael Rosenblum’s “five shot” method for meaningful video sequences

Part 5: Tips for shooting dynamic video interviews

Part 6: Working with video apps

Part 7: How to make a documentary

Part 8:  Further reading

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