If you are using a smartphone, tablet, or small flip-style camera, you will most likely be limited to working with auto functions. That means no direct control over white balance, exposure, focus, or audio levels. However, there are some techniques that can help you minimize these limitations.
Hold the Phone Correctly
Before we discuss ways of getting around auto functions, a quick comment on aspect ratio. Make sure you hold your phone so your video is captured at an aspect ratio of 16:9. Aspect ratio refers to the dimensions of the vertical and horizontal sides of the frame. In practice, it is most commonly used to tell you whether your video is widescreen or not. 16:9 is widescreen and 4:3 is traditional video.
Figure 1. A Landscape Shot
Figure 2. A Portrait Shot
Stabilize the Device
Just as you need to stabilize a standard camera, you also need to stabilize a phone or tablet when you shoot video. If you don’t have a stand for your phone, hold the device with both hands to reduce the wobble.
Don’t Use the Zoom Function
Most smartphone cameras do not have optical zoom lenses; they use digital zoom. Digital zoom leads to a more pixelated image with less detail. To get clear close-ups, ditch the digital zoom and then physically move your camera close to the person or object.
Use an External Microphone
Phone microphones have improved in quality but an external microphone will still make your video sound more professional. If you are unable to access an external microphone, physically move your device closer to the person so she is nearer the microphone. Without an external microphone, you should really only have close-ups when people are speaking; any further away and the quality will degrade dramatically.
For more tips on creating video content read Jonathan’s latest book, Rapid Media Development for Trainers. Next up in this three-blog series is essential tools of audio production. Also, be sure to join me for the Rapid Video Development for Learning Certificate at ATD 2017 Conference & Exposition.