Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Mobile Phone Video

My phone photography article received lots of hits so I want to extend a little bit and talk about video.
I own a low class Android phone and I am very happy with it. The one thing that sort of bothers me is the video quality. It's very low and I wish I had bought a higher class phone in the first but c'est la vie... Is video quality that important though?
The answer is YES but shooting in HD is not the most important thing. Since most of us (me included) are not shooting Hollywood productions with a script, I will put my beret and sneakers aside and talk to you about some general rules of shooting video.

  • Hold your phone sideways (tilt it 90 degrees to get it in a horizontal position). I've seen plenty of awkward vertical videos online that really made me wonder why I'd bought my wide screen monitor. Maybe I should turn it vertically too. Trust me it just sucks watching videos like this.
  • I know it's really hard, but please, hold the phone steady. Hold your breath if it helps or press it against something. Most phones, even the expensive ones (iPhone included) will make the video wavy if there's shaking.
  • Avoid panning and if you do pan than make it really slowly while watching the horizon. Again, mind the shaking. So try smooth panning left to right really slowly in only one direction to make the video watchable.
  • Keep the background noise in mind. You don't want to stay close to a noise source that is louder than the person you want to record. You might be able to hear the person but the microphone will record the closer and louder noise much better than you think.
  • If you're at a concert the loud sound will be severely distorted and there's a big chance you won't be able to hold the phone steady. You might as well resort to taking photos instead of shooting video with a lousy sound and even worse picture. Enjoy the concert and remember it as you want instead of trying to capture it on your phone.
  • Don't shoot too long if nothing is happening. 5 to 10 seconds of a fountain or a building video is more than enough to show its beauty. If you want to get more creative go ahead and put short videos together using the video editing software your phone, tablet or computer has. Than you can actually create a short film instead of showing 20 second or longer bits of video where nothing is happening. People will just lose interest the same way no one is interested in looking at a screensaver for over a minute.
Here's a fine example of what can be done with a good script, ideas, knowing how to shoot video and a mobile phone. It's really amazing! Watch it and maybe you'll get some ideas as well.


All the best,

Kamen Kunchev