Use two hands: How to make better videos on your smartphone

  • Smartphones
  • Sunday, 17 Nov 2019

With a gimbal, any footage you shoot on your smartphone will be stable thanks to a sophisticated mechanism that counteracts your shaking hands. — dpa

High resolution, good audio and no shakiness: today's smartphones, digital cameras and camcorders offer professional quality video recordings for the average person. But how do you get the best results from your equipment?

Firstly, keep the lens clean, says tech tester Rainer Schuldt. Smartphones in particular tend to spend much of the day in their owner's pocket where they can pick up lint and dust on the lens that can botch a shot.

It's better to blow the dust away rather than wiping it off, according to Schuldt: "Small grains of sand or other particles can scratch the sensitive lens."

Once you start filming it's important not to move the camera around too much and if you do move it, do so slowly. "Otherwise, you'll give the viewer a headache," says Johannes Schuba from tech magazine t3n.

"The best way to hold the smartphone or the camera is with both hands so as to compensate for any shaking," Schuldt says. A tripod will also do that job, as will a handheld gimbal, a special holder designed to reduce shakes.

When arranging your scene, move the subject a little to the left or right from dead centre. If the subject is right in the centre of the frame, the image can seem artificial, static and boring, says Schuldt. When filming people, the camera should always be at eye level.

The trick, says video producer and trainer Markus Valley, is to think like you are shooting a photo even when recording video. That means getting closer and looking for different perspectives.

"It's best to shoot five shots from five perspectives, which can be put together well," he says.

In general, filmmakers should already have the finished film roughly in mind while they're filming it. That will prevent the creation of useless footage and will make the edit easier.

The experts advise against zooming because it decreases the video quality. "It's better to get closer to the subject," Valley says.

For your first attempts the camera apps that come pre-installed on a smartphone are sufficient, Schuba says. If you want something more advanced, Valley recommends paid apps such as Filmic Pro or MoviePro (only available for iOS).

Lighting is always a challenge. "You can't correct much afterwards," says Schuba, so it's important to get it right before you start.

If you're filming in a room you should have your back to the window and put the subject in the light. A white wall can be used to reflect the light of a lamp. Outside, pay attention to shadows.

Schuba recommends setting the lighting and then recording a short test to check how it looks.

If you record on a smartphone, you can also edit on it. Apps like the free editing tool Inshot can help, Schuba says. However, if the edit is more elaborate, it's better to switch to a laptop or desktop. – dpa

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