If you need to make a professional video for your brand or to promote an event, but all you have available to shoot it is your smartphone, we’ve put together some tips to help you out.

How good is the quality of smartphone video?

The improvement in camera technology for smartphones in the past few years is impressive. The photos and videos taken by the latest models are incredibly crisp and bright, so the average person could be forgiven for wondering whether a professional camera is still that much better. 

What is worth noting, however, is that even without the images from a professional camera for reference, most of the time we watch phone videos on small screens. It is harder to notice small details such as blurriness that may become apparent on a TV screen or projector.

With that being said, sometimes for reasons such as a limited budget, the only option you will have available to you when shooting your video is your smartphone and you could do worse! That’s why we’ve put together some tips on how to take a good video with your phone so that it looks as professional as possible. 

What kind of video can you shoot professionally with a smartphone?

While it is always recommended to use a proper camera and filming setup where possible for your project, sometimes a smartphone may be all that is available to you. Smartphone footage is fine for most social media and informal videos because that’s what we’re used to seeing on those platforms every day!

For staged brand and marketing videos, if the only camera you have is a smartphone, then there are some things you can do to make the footage more professional.

Tips for shooting a professional video with a smartphone

1. Film in landscape 

This first tip may seem like an obvious one, but it’s worth stating anyway. Unless you are shooting videos to be watched on a specific social media platform where a specific aspect ratio is required, then you should always shoot your videos in landscape. Landscape videos look cinematic and also fit most screens perfectly. 

2. Don’t forget composition and framing

While it may feel casual shooting a video on a smartphone, you should treat the shoot like you would if you were using a professional camera. This means that you should give some time to ensuring the framing and composition, such as implementing the rule of thirds, using symmetry, utilising depth of field, negative space and more.

3. Try not to use the zoom

For how good most modern smartphone cameras are, many of them lose quality quickly as soon as you zoom in. This is because phone cameras don’t use optical zoom, but instead use a digital zoom where the lens doesn’t get any closer to the target and the phone crops and enlarges the image instead. If you need to zoom, try to get closer to the target or, if you want the motion of the zoom, use a track and dolly instead.

4. Use proper lighting

A common mistake when trying to shoot a professional video with a phone is to neglect the lighting. Try to shoot in areas that have the best natural light and invest in some spotlights and reflectors to highlight the parts of the scene you want to draw attention to.

5. Invest in a tripod, or some kind of stabilising rig/Steadicam 

Another way that smartphone videos can quickly look unprofessional is if they are shaky. While there have been intentional forays into shaky-cam to try and show chaos or just a more natural approach (as if the cameraman is one of the characters), as a general rule you should try to stabilise your shots as much as possible, especially when using a phone camera. 

6. Check the sound quality/record sound separately with a mic if possible

On a professional video shoot, the sound will almost always be recorded through an external microphone, not the one in the camera. If possible, you should try to do this too, as smartphone microphones will pick up lots of background noise unless they are very close to the target.

To take a good video with your phone, you should try to follow as many of the tenets of professional videography as possible, as if you were shooting with a professional camera.

While off-the-cuff social media videos don’t rely on quality as much, if you are shooting any sort of staged brand video, a professional approach is required to make sure the smartphone footage hits the target.For the best results, it is still always recommended to use professional filmmaking and editing services for your videos. You can find out more about how Sharp Films approach video production.