It’s no secret that smartphones have gained amazing video capabilities in the last few years and that’s great for people looking to create their own marketing videos for their business. With just your phone and a few others bits of kit (which you can learn about on my smartphone video course) you can create great looking videos that will engage your audience and create more business for your company. There are some great benefits that come with smartphone videos, but also some drawbacks.
First lets look at the Pros.
#1 – you probably already have one!
Smartphones are so wide spread in daily life that 85% of people in the UK now have a smartphone (a statistic to keep in mind when thinking about other marketing avenues!) This means you don’t have to worry about forking out upwards of £500 for a camera and you can start making marketing videos right away.
#2 – You don’t need the most up to date smartphone
With every new phone release the quality of photos and videos gets better, but that does not mean you need to upgrade every time a new one comes out. The iPhone 4s came out in 2011 and was capable of shooting Full HD – which in general is enough for most peoples needs.
One thing to bare in mind though. Along with video quality, newer models also have more features and options – 4K resolution, higher frame rates for shooting slow motion and more camera controls. So while it isn’t essential to have the latest phone, having a phone that came out in the last couple of years is recommended.
#3 Great image quality
You can get great looking video footage with ease from your smartphone. Why does this matter? If you have low quality video and hard to hear audio, that will reflect badly on your brand, however by using a smartphone you already have the ability to create videos that look great and compliment your company’s brand. There’s more to it than just pointing your phone at a subject and pressing record, but you’re certainly on your way if your phone provides you with a high quality image!
#4 – It’s compact!
I bet it’s in your pocket right now, isn’t it? Or taking up a small amount of space on your desk perhaps? Why does this matter?
People can find big cameras very intimidating, especially if they don’t have any experience being on camera, so having a small camera like a smartphone can really help people relax . This is great if you are interviewing someone for your video.
The same goes for filming at an event or in your shop or premises. People are so used to seeing photos and videos being taken with smartphones in day to day life that they don’t bat an eyelid, a real advantage when you want to capture people acting normally! Try and film people conspicuously with a big video camera – you’ll find that people very quickly go shy and turn away.
#5 – Easy to learn
Smartphone cameras are simple and something that most people are familiar with. There aren’t loads of intimidating buttons to learn like there are on a DSLR or video camera, so the learning curve is not a steep one.
#6 – Quick to setup
They are quick and easy to set up – ready to go in minutes. There are a few things you need to setup in your camera before you are ready to go, but once you’ve done it a few times it becomes even quicker, almost second nature!
Onto the cons…
While there are some drawbacks, it is possible to find a solution for most of these – it is important to be aware of the problems and how to solve them!
#1 – Battery life
Most modern phones have great battery life when it comes to texting, social media and web browsing, but extended use of the phones camera and zap the battery quicker than you may think. In times gone by you could have changed the battery and carried on, but of course phone manufacturers no longer allow us this luxury!
It is important to keep an eye on how much charge your phone has whilst you are shooting, nothing is worse than your phone switching itself off half way through a great interview!
So how can we extend our battery life? If you’re filming something like an interview in an office or premises the easiest option is to plug your phone into the mains to ensure your phone keeps its charge throughout your shoot. If you need to use your phone for something else during a break etc. just make sure you plug it back in.
If you are moving around a lot whilst filming, for example at an event or trade show, it is very wise to invest in a power brick for your phone. These can hold up to 3 – 4 charges for your phone, which would be more than enough for a days filming. You can have a long usb wire so that your power brick sits in your pocket and can reach your phones charging port.
#2 – Storage
Video files are big. And they can get massive if you increase the recording quality or film in 4K. This means that your phones storage can be eaten up very quickly! The solutions are different depending on what operating system you are using and what phone you have.
If you are using iOS on your iPhone, the amount of storage you have available is set in stone. You either have 16, 32, 64 or 128gb. There is no way of increasing the storage space.
So how much video can you get on a 16gb iPhone? If you have no other video or photos etc. on your phone already, you can fit approximately 3 hours of HD footage, or about 40 minutes of 4K footage.
Make sure you clear enough space on your phone before you start shooting by backing up all of your photos and videos to your computer and then clearing them off of your phone prior to filming. Think about whether you really need to film in 4K or not – HD will give you a lot more recording time and will suffice for most peoples needs.
If you use an android phone, most of the time you will have the option to insert external memory in the form of a micro SD card. Which can greatly enhance your storage capabilities. Choosing the correct SD card is important, so be sure to research this thoroughly.
#3 – Low quality digital zoom
If you want to make an object look closer you can do one of two things – move the camera closer or zoom in. The digital zoom on smartphones is generally very bad quality. The more you zoom in, the worse the picture will look. This is probably the most limiting factor of an out of the box smartphone. You can get away with zooming in slightly to make your subject fill more of the frame, but fully zooming in can look awful.
The solution? Most of the time you can get away with just moving your phone closer to your subject. You can buy some smartphone lenses that attach to your phones camera, giving you different ‘focal ranges’ – magnifying the image for you without the need to move your phone. These give varied results when it comes to retaining quality and personally I would recommend they are used sparingly.
#4 – Native apps give little control
The camera app that comes with your phone lacks manual controls which are necessary to take control of your image. Things like video resolution and frame rate are hidden in settings menu rather than in the app itself and the control over exposure and focus minimal.
Solution? Apps like Filmic Pro give lots of control over image quality, exposure and focus