When we were kids, the video equipment we had on hand was bulky. A VHS or an 8MM tape slid into some yawning orifice. And to mix video, you had to hook it all up to a VCR.
Kids today just don’t know how easy they’ve got it.
Pretty awesome technology is available to the common man right now. The newest iPhone shoots beautiful 4K video. But you can’t just pick up a cell phone and shoot video hoping to come out with something professional.
Otherwise the average Joe on the street would be making loads of money in advertising.
Although the iPhone is an amazing device, you can’t do a lot of things required for professional video with just a cell phone. It takes some extra equipment and a little bit of know-how.
In the next few paragraphs, I’ll outline exactly what you need and give you a few video shooting tips to boot.
1. Stability Is Your Friend
Unless you’re a surgeon, you won’t get stable video with just your hands. See, your hands are constantly making micro adjustments when you try to hold something steady. And since video cameras don’t automatically adjust for this, you need something stable on which to rest the camera.
There are two kinds stability devices you can use with an iPhone. A tripod or a glidecam.
If you plan on shooting in studio conditions or stationary conditions, then you can just buy a tripod with a GripTight mount. This setup will only set you back about $50 if you get a good tripod.
If you want movement in your video, get a glide cam made for an iPhone. This is a weighted and balanced device. With practice, you can even run with it and get smooth and stable footage.
You’ll need a glide cam if you’re going to take footage from a vehicle, or following people around their environment. An excellent glidecam will set you back around $200 or more. But it will reward you with beautiful shots.
2. Your iPhone Microphone Sucks
Apple probably wouldn’t like to hear this. So sue me, Apple! (I didn’t think so.) But the iPhone’s microphone is crummy.
Sure, it’s great for recording your thoughts and secretly recording conversations (secretly recording conversations is illegal in most states, btw), it’s not fit for video production. You need a real microphone for that.
Microphones seem like they’d be expensive. And the best ones are.
But companies like Rode understand budget constraints. And they’ve created an awesome little iPhone companion to help you record on the go.
The Rode Smartlav lavalier microphone works on both the iPhone and Android phones. It’s a clip-on lavalier made for recording an individual’s voice. If you want ambient sounds, you’ll need a much different multidirectional microphone.
And if you’re recording video on your iPhone, you’ll need another device to store sound. Another cell phone will work, an iPod, or a recording device. You’ll have to sync sound later in whatever editing software you choose.
Be sure to test your sound before shooting. There are plenty of great sound apps out there to help you record professional sound with a lavalier mic.
3. Let There Be Light!
This could either be the least expensive aspect of video production or a moderately expensive purchase. Natural light is free.
Learning how to leverage natural light for photo and video production is photography 101. Your subject will look best in natural light.
Getting the right angle is tough. And unless you have a reflective surface, you need to frame your subject so their face is looking directly at the sun. If not, you will have deep shadows.
A reflective surface doesn’t have to be expensive. You can make one with just a large piece of cardboard and some tin foil.
In a studio setup, you use three light sources. A primary light source (the brightest), a secondary light source (second brightest) and a rear light source (third brightest).
The first two light sources need to be at a 90-60 degree angle away from each other. You can use the sun and a reflective surface for these two light sources. And you don’t need a third light source if you’re shooting outside.
You can make your own indoor lighting with fluorescent light sources or if you want to go really shoestring, construction lights. Just a warning, construction lighting is extremely hot and your subject might faint from the heat.
You’ll need to practice setting up lighting and experimenting with white balance before you begin shooting principle footage. You can use a white sheet to help set the color balance on your iPhone.
4. Post Production Fixes All
That seems to be the mantra even in Hollywood these days. You can use post production to cover up some of the most glaring mistakes. And editing software is pretty expansive these days.
But some things aren’t fixable. If your footage is too shakey, you’re screwed. If your lighting is off, you might be able to fix some things with artificial light in software, but it will look tacky.
Get your stuff together before post production, and you’ll spend less time in post production.
But post production is still one of the most important parts of video and sound production. If you suck at editing, your video will be awful.
What kinds of things can you do in post production to make your video awesome? Animation is huge.
Animated video production will spruce up your page and make your videos pop. Have you ever sat through a boring PowerPoint slideshow and fallen asleep? Video without animation is just like that.
Even the smallest thing such as a moving company logo will add entertainment value to your video.
What Should You Avoid in Post Production?
You can make a lot of mistakes in post-production. And some of them are super tempting to the newbie.
Don’t play with transitions. Unless your name is George Lucas, you have no right to use even a side swipe transition. Black out or instant cut transitions are sufficient.
Don’t use animated clip-art from Microsoft PowerPoint. These are horrible, annoying, tacky and unprofessional. Just don’t. Please.
Video Production Is Easy
A video campaign will boost your traffic and increase leads ten fold. And it’s really not a hard process. It takes a little bit of time and a little bit of love.
Do you have experience with video production? Tell me your advice in the comments below!