15 tips for shooting better explainer videos with your mobile phone

When sharing content with employees, most organizations use videos shot on cell phones. Carrying a cell phone in your pocket or purse is like carrying a mini TV channel with you. It has everything you need to shoot and edit on the go without bulky equipment like lights and booms. Here are 15 hacks you can use to make sure your explainer videos shot on a cell phone look like they were shot by a professional.

Plan every shot before you start

1. Don’t start filming until you’ve completed a storyboard or shot plan. Yes, it sounds like an extra chore, especially if you don’t like to draw, but having a storyboard or shot plan can save you time later.

2. Rehearse what you film. If your video is a task demo, repeat that demo a few times to make sure it’s smooth and polished. Practice will prevent on-camera errors while you’re filming, which means less editing time.

3. Film more than one take. This will give you more footage to choose from in post-production (editing). Consider moving the camera to different positions for each take.

4. Perform a security check. Make sure the location you are going to film is safe, whether it is outdoors in a parking lot or indoors in a factory. Carry out a risk assessment and, if possible, film with a partner.

5. Get permission before filming. Major cities and many office buildings require you to have a permit to film in public places. Check with security so you don’t get pulled over halfway through filming.

Use the camera well

6. Avoid using the zoom on your camera. Digital zoom pixelates shots on most cameras, making them blurry, so shoot with your lens zoomed out. Need a close-up? Just move in with the camera.

7. Make sure there is plenty of light where you are filming. Cell phone cameras work best in bright light. If necessary, take shop lights to illuminate the object or person you are filming.

8. Make sure the main light source is shining directly on the object or person you are filming. Avoid filming anyone standing in front of a window or door; you will only capture their silhouette.

9. Invest in an external microphone. Microphones should be a few meters from the sound source or the speaker’s mouth; all of which results in lousy sound with more ambient background noise.

ten. If you need to use the camera’s built-in microphone, get as close to the sound source as possible. You can have the best shots in a video, but if the audio is lousy it will sound unprofessional.

11. Focus Your Shot. Touch the area of ​​the screen you want to focus on to make sure your camera knows who to focus on. Autofocus does not always work properly.

12. “Roll for five.” Wait five seconds after pressing save before starting any action. Stop recording five seconds after the action stops. This will make editing easier.

Manage your shots

13. Take notes while filming. Write down specifics you need to remember about individual shots when you start editing, such as shot names or elements.

14. Download video shots to your computer after shooting. It’s a good habit to get into because your files will be stored safely and your phone storage won’t be cluttered with lots of video files.

15. Rename all your video files. When downloading to your computer, replace filenames with numbers with words that make sense to you. This will make them easier to find later.

The tips for using your camera assume that you are shooting explainer videos with a regular cell phone camera. Some people who like to have a little more control over their shots can download camera apps. These apps allow you to manipulate shots with features provided by professional cameras, such as white balance, shutter speed, and audio.

Do it right first and save time later

Capturing good video doesn’t just help make your photos look better. Doing it right the first time saves you wasting time in post-production adjusting lighting and contrast or finding creative ways to distract viewers from blurry shots. This slows down production, gives you less precision and robs you of time to be creative.

If you want to learn more about creating instructional videos with your mobile phone, register for ATD’s online certificate program, Rapid Video Development for Learning Certificate, being held May 5-6 and hosted by Jonathan Halls.

John C. Dent