Top tips for filming with a phone

You no longer need expensive cameras to create good quality video. Some professional filmmakers now make news, documentaries and even feature films using their phones. Follow these tips to learn how.

Top tips for filming with a phone

Switch your phone to airplane mode
This will prevent you being interrupted by calls and alerts.

Start with a full battery
Filming and storing video files uses lots of power. If you plan to film for more than an hour you may need a portable battery pack.

Check your storage
Video uses lots of space on your device, make sure you have enough. This may be the time to delete some of your old apps and photographs.

Think about what you want to focus on
On many phones you can lock the focus on the subject by tapping on it on the screen.

Keep it stable
Use both hands or a selfie stick or portable tripod. If you don’t have these, try attaching your phone to something solid (a small water bottle or broom handle) with a heavy-duty rubber band or hair scrunchie. For tablets, hold securely with both hands. 

Avoid zoom on the phone
It's better to move nearer to the subject to create close-ups than it is to use the phone's zoom function.

Don't forget the sound
Get your microphone close to the sound that you want to record. Most phones are supplied with headphones with quite a good microphone. Use this to get better sound quality.

Use light
Film in a location which is well-lit. If it isn't well-lit naturally, use lamps to light up the subject of your video.

Consider the frame
Film in landscape rather than portrait for a more professional result. Make sure your shot looks good before you press record. If you are doing an interview, for example, and two-thirds of the shot shows the sky then you may need to adjust it so you can see more of your subject.

Capture cutaways
If you are doing an interview or filming a performance you would like to edit later, record ‘cutaway’ shots. These are shots you can cut to when you make an edit.

Plan with storyboards
If you're making other content like drama or performance, you may like to plan out your shots on a storyboard.

Enjoy the edit
There are lots of free editing packages and apps. If you have an Apple device, then iMovie is free and easy to use. You can download DaVinci Resolve (among others) for free on your computer. See our How to make a showreel page for a list of free video editing software.

Tip: You can use an old phone without a SIM card as a camera and connect it to wifi to export the video. You can also film on tablets and a range of other devices which have many the features of a smartphone.

Please note: If you are under 18 or you are a parent filming with children using a phone, double-check that the footage isn’t being automatically uploaded to cloud storage.

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Top tips for filming with a phone

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