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The MAGIX checklist for filming with your smartphone

The MAGIX checklist for filming with your smartphone

When it comes to taking pictures of special moments, most of us are very familiar with the experience of either not having our camera with us at all or not being able to grabĀ  it in time to get the shot. The good news is that (almost) everyone has a smartphone which can hold its own against compact cameras. However, a large camera sensor and high video resolution aren’t the only things you need to make beautiful videos with your phone. The right angle, as well as good lighting and sound quality, are just as important. To help you get the most out of your smartphone videos, we’ve put together a big checklist of dos and don’ts:

Preparation (assuming you have time for it)

  • Charge your smartphone battery. Video recording is one of the biggest consumers of smartphone battery life, so be sure to charge up beforehand.
  • Free up memory. Video files take up more space than their audio and photo counterparts. Make sure your smartphone has enough free memory space for your video or throw a microSD card in, if your phone allows for it.
  • Clean the camera lens. Use a soft material to wipe away any dirt or oil on the lens. This will help guarantee you get crisp and clear footage.
  • Put your phone in flight mode to avoid getting any calls while filming.
  • Install the “camcorder shortcut” Android app on your phone to save time opening your camera.

Composition

This really can’t be said enough. Holding your smartphone vertically is an absolute no go. Make sure you hold your phone horizontally and still as possible.

  • Since pretty much all video platforms generate video playback in landscape format, holding your phone horizontally is essential for avoiding black lines showing up on the sides of your video.
  • Keep your phone steady. Shaky footage is an eye sore and should be avoided at all costs. The following tricks will help you get the most stable shot possible:
    • Film with two hands
    • Keep your elbows against your body
    • Try to find a stable surface that you can rest your wrists on
    • You can even try building your own tripod

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Lighting

Lighting can make or break a video. This is more so the case with smartphone cameras, which tend to have a low light intensity. Here are a few ground rules to keep in mind:

  • Always try to film outside with natural lighting. If you can’t, you should try to find a good light source, such as a large window, and make sure that both what you’re filming and your camera are as close to the light source as possible.
  • Try to avoid high contrast areas. Your camera’s sensor isn’t very good at filming both bright and dark areas at the same time. Choose a setting which doesn’t have both very bright and very dark areas.
  • Don’t use backlighting, unless you’re trying to be creative. When the sun shines directly into the camera lens, you can get interesting results like silhouettes. However, the object you’re pointing your camera at will be so blurry, you won’t be able to tell what it is anymore.

Sound quality

Smartphone microphones tend to pick up a lot of background noise, which you generally don’t want. Here are a few tips to avoid this:

  • Holding the phone steadily can help prevent any extra noise from being picked up by the microphone. You should also avoid using the zoom feature.
  • You can reduce the volume of concert recordings or strong wind by putting your finger over the microphone.
  • Use an external microphone. If you really want perfect sound, you can get a small microphone that plugs into your smartphone.

Style

Last but not least, there are some stylistic aspects of filming which can be taking into account to get excellent video results.

  • Don’t use zoom. Zooming causes the video quality to change. If you want to zoom in on something, just move closer to it.
  • Move slowly. Smartphones are often pretty bad at processing fast movements, resulting in pixelated frames and blurry objects. Not to mention it isn’t easy on the eyes watching videos like this. Slow and steady wins the race.
  • Change perspectives. If you want to add more excitement to your videos, you should consider changing the camera perspective and image composition. Try filming from below to make objects look bigger or mixing long shots with close-ups.

That’s it. You’re ready to start making top-notch videos with your phone. If you want to edit your videos and put them on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, you should definitely check out our new video editing app Fastcut for Android.

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