Best Smartphone Video Recording Tips

With the ever-changing sphere of technology, more and more people are swapping out their classic camcorders with mobile phones to record videos. It completely makes sense as camcorders, tripods, and lenses are bulky, heavy, and just a plain hassle. The main question: Can our cellphones actually capture great quality, professional videos? The answer is yes, absolutely!

Here’s how:

1. Make sure that the light falls on the subject & you make the most out of natural light

Having light on the main subject/person in the video will help to ensure that the viewers will be able to clearly see the focal point, ultimately elevating their user experience. Natural light is usually the most flattering with this basic rule of thumb: if you’re filming with natural light, spin around so your back is to the light. This way, your subject will have the sun’s spotlight. Once your back is to the light, feel free to test out different angles to see what looks best. The best times to record with natural light are from 7-10 AM and 4-7 PM. If you’re in a room with no windows or if light is still an issue, try using Chatlight or Crush Glow. Both of these innovative products easily snap on the front of your phone, giving that extra beam of light needed. Furthermore, if you’re filming outdoors, definitely download LightTrac. LightTrac helps users plan their photo shoots/videos ahead of time by telling them the best time and location to find the perfect natural light.

2. Keep your hands steady

It’s difficult to monitor movement when you are multitasking (e.g. holding a phone, recording a video, looking at video quality). For quick videos, the best way to stay still is to unlock your knees, move with your hips, and keep your hands close to your chest. Investing in a smartphone tripod such as the GripTight GorillaPod, the Glif Plus, or the Acuvar 50” will drastically improve the steadiness and overall quality of your video.



3. Eliminate any background noise

Background noise is the worst, especially when you are trying to decipher a video. If possible, try to avoid any wasteful background noise. If you are in an open space, shut all of the doors since it is better to record in a closed room. If the fan/heather/AC is on, this may also disrupt the sound. Want to get your sound even more crisp? Invest in a smartphone mic – these are our favorites: the SmartLav+ from Rode & the Ampridge MightyMic S.

4. Zooming in will reduce video quality

Best practices is to avoid zooming at all costs as this will drastically pixelate your video. Simply get closer if possible, or blur out unnecessary background. Try using VidTrim on Android, Splice or Adobe Premiere Clip for all of your video-editing needs.


Close-up image of smartphone take a landscape photo on flexible tripod at tea farm in northern of Thailand

5. Keep your phone on airplane mode

The last thing your masterpiece of a video needs is an interruption. Imagine if you are recording the most perfect scene and then all of the sudden a telemarketer calls and ruins all of your hard work. It only takes a second to put your phone on airplane mode. This will also help with the next tip…

6. Ample battery life is a MUST

Recording videos can eat up your battery life very quickly, so be sure to plug your phone into a nearby outlet. Turning off your location as well as putting your phone on airplane mode will also help. If there aren’t any outlets around, portable chargers or battery packs work will give your phone that extra boost of juice.

7. Turn your phone horizontal

Put yourself in the viewer’s shoes… their screen will most probably be a widescreen, so record horizontally to make the video more enjoyable. Recording horizontally will also allow for more recording space which is always handy.


8. Don’t be afraid of third-party apps

Newer mobile devices usually come with decent built-in recording capabilities, however, there are quite a few apps specifically for recording videos. These apps are intuitive in that they know exactly which functions and features you will be looking for. Don’t hestite to spend a little more money on a great app like Filmic Pro – you’ll definitely reap the benefits. What’s so great about Filmic Pro?  It allows you to select higher video bitrate, which means you will have higher quality videos. You’ll also be able to control exposure, focus, and use different frame rates all at the touch of your fingertips.

9. Good positioning is everything

Don’t be afraid to make your subject a little off center to make for a more interesting frame. Professionals always use the ‘rule of thirds.’ Easily use this rule by aligning the subject/focal point with the right of left intersection points of the gridlines, like the example below.


10. Lock your auto-exposure

Most videographers lock Auto Exposure because smartphones tend to change exposure if it’s not set. If you’re panning across a large space, be sure to lock exposure in so the feng shui remains consistent. Not sure how to go about doing this? All you have to do is launch the Camera app, set it to video, then tap and hold on the screen where you want to set focus and exposure (this is usually the subject you’re shooting). Hold that tap until you see “AE/AF Lock” show up on the screen. From there you’ll be able to lock exposure. Different techniques for locking exposure vary depending on which app you are using, however, if you’re using Filmic Pro, simply tap the red button to lock it in, and tap the white button to unlock.


Was the above beneficial? Have any more tips to share? Want us to share our expertise on any other subjects? Contact us at [email protected]


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1 Comment

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