Five steps to using smartphone footage for marketing

By Christopher Bo Shields, Chief Creative Officer and Co-founder, Binumi Pro

Not long ago, most marketers wouldn’t have dreamt of shooting a professional video using just a mobile phone, because the camera footage meant blurry visuals and muffled sound.

But today’s smartphones are equipped with high quality cameras, ones that challenge even professional standard video kit. We’re also more accustomed to seeing video from phones – the coronavirus pandemic has led to the use of home-shot footage everywhere from news reports to FTSE 100 TV ads, while social media success stories have shown that clips created in this way can engage a huge audience.

Combining the cost-efficiency and agility of smartphone filming with a specialist kit and editing expertise is a great way of getting worthwhile results – and by learning a few simple tricks of the trade, you can start producing well-made video content.

So how can you optimise your filming to get professional results? Here’s our advice for capturing footage that makes an impact.

  1. Find the right lighting

Good lighting can make or break a video. Avoid shooting towards windows – the camera will try to adjust its brightness levels too quickly and you’ll be left with a subject that’s almost impossible to see.

Instead, look for sources of light in the room and film from those areas for a bright and vibrant shot. Feel free to test a few locations before shooting to work out which set-up will have the best impact – but bear in mind that natural light from outside will vary throughout the day.

  1. Pay attention to the background

Have you thought about what’s in the background of your shot? If you’re filming at home or in an office, make sure you’re in a clean and tidy environment that fits your brand image. You can be sure that an eagle-eyed viewer will spot a stray coffee mug or dog-eared poster.

You may want to include your branding to bolster your company identity. If you do, ensure it is visible in the shot, clear, and easy to identify.

As lockdown is eased, you may start to shoot at events. Focussing on the busiest areas will give a sense of activity and energy – but make sure there’s nothing in the background that could divert your viewer’s attention away from your subject.

  1. Frame your shot

Before you press record, take a moment to prepare your frame. Try to follow two easy composition rules:

  • Rule of thirds– split your shot to two thirds. Your subject should take up the middle third of the frame.
  • No head room– Filming an interview or ‘talking head’? Make sure there isn’t unnecessary space above the person’s head by keeping it at the top of the frame.
  1. Check your sound

Background noise will distract from your subject and make it harder for the viewer to concentrate. It can be challenging to find a quiet spot to film, so use a lapel microphone during interviews for a distinct and sharp sound – especially if you’re in a noisy environment.

Always test the sound before you get started – there’s nothing worse than filming an entire video only to find out it’s inaudible.

  1. Enhance your interviewing technique

An interview is a useful way of offering insights, demonstrating product knowledge – or showing the human side of your brand.

When interviewing someone, try to be as confident and relaxed as possible: it will put your subject at ease and give a more effortless feel to the finished video. Think of the interview as an opportunity for a good conversation – and remind your interviewee that there’s always the opportunity for another take in the case of any mistakes.

If you’re asking questions off-screen, stand slightly to the left or right of the camera rather than directly behind it so the interviewee looks at you and not down the lens. This will foster a more natural atmosphere. It’s also a good idea to keep checking that the subject is in frame and that the lighting and setting stays consistent.

By testing out different approaches and experimenting with settings you’ll save time in the long run – as well as ending up with more effective results.

Think through your filming strategy, and you may be surprised by the quality of footage you can achieve. And, after a slick edit, you’ll have instantly shareworthy video content that works across all your channels and bolsters your brand reputation.

Video continues to be the best way for a brand to achieve real cut through, and by using these simple tips, you can make it look pro with just a smartphone.