Choosing to film marketing videos with your smartphone is a great decision, but there are some common mistakes to avoid to ensure your videos come out looking great and convey their intended message.

#1 – Orientation

Instead of explaining this one in a paragraph, take a quick look at this video!

This is a fun way of explaining this ‘mistake’. As you see in the clip, videos are not designed to be viewed vertically. In a world of mobile social media browsing it is understandable why vertical video occurs, however shooting like this is the quickest way to creating amateur looking video.

HOWEVER! Like with every rule there are exceptions. Some social media platforms like Snapchat work well with vertical video – but this should be a thought out conscious decision with reasoning behind it, not just because ‘that’s how I always hold my phone’.

#2 – Bad sound

This is a very important point that applies to all video production, not just smartphone video. It’s all well and good having great looking visuals but that could all be in vain if your audio is badly presented.

Why do I say ‘presented’ rather than ‘recorded’? There are several places that audio can go wrong during a video production, not just when you’re actually recording your video.

Firstly – recording on the shoot. Smartphone microphones aren’t great – sound is picked up from all around it and even in a quiet room the sound quality leaves much to be desired. So it is important to have a good quality microphone to record with – you can use a shotgun microphone, or a lav microphone to get good sound on the day.

Once you have a good microphone you need to make sure the level at which you are recording your audio is correct. Too quiet and you have to raise the levels later on when editing your video, this can diminish sound quality greatly. Too loud and your sound could get distorted, making it extremely difficult to hear what is being said and there is absolutely no way you can save distorted audio!

Have a listen to the examples below – one correctly recorded, one is too quiet and the other is too loud.

Secondly – Balancing audio levels with music when you are editing. If you capture great audio on the day, you need to make sure that is carried through to the final video. I have seen a lot of videos where it is very difficult to hear what is being said over the music. This is simply a case of being aware of the volume of music and turning it down enough so that the voice over the top can be heard. It is good practise to listen to your audio on different devices – your laptop speakers, some headphones, stereo speakers and even your mobile phone, that way you can ensure great quality across the board.

#3 Incorrect exposure

Over exposed Image Properly Exposed Image Under exposed image

An overexposed image can look very nasty indeed! The brightest parts of an image get washed out and any people or objects in the shot can start to look ill! It can be distracting if you have large overexposed areas in your, which will detract from the message of your video. Under exposure again should be avoided – if you can’t see your subjects face properly you don’t get as much of a connection with the viewer. An under exposed image can be saved by bringing up the brightness later on when editing, but at the expense of image quality. It is best practise in the film making world to get everything correct ‘in camera’ so that you have maximum image quality, minimise time messing about fixing problems when editing and ultimately give the best viewing experience to your audience.

You can ensure good exposure by doing the following:

Smartphones require quite a bit of light to get the best image, so make sure you are filming in a well lit room.

Use a light on your subject to make them stand out from the rest of your shot.

Avoid having your subject with their back to a window (unless you have a very powerful light pointing at them, which at this stage you probably wont), this will avoid having an over exposed and distracting background.

There are lots of things to take into account when making a marketing video, these are just three things to think about – if you can understand and experiment with these tips you’ll be well on your way to creating great videos! Go out and play around with your phone, see what over and under exposed images look like, try recording bad sound and see what it sounds like. Mistakes are all part of – make mistakes on purpose to see what it looks like and then you will know how to avoid it in future!

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