Smartphone Video Tips

Landscape or Portrait?

Always record with your smartphone positioned horizontally (landscape).

Bottom image shows correct horizontal orientation of camera for videos; top image shows incorrect vertical orientation


Should I Use the Selfie Camera?

Avoid using the selfie camera. The “back camera” is usually higher quality and will give your video a more natural look. If possible, have someone tap your face on the screen to have the phone focus and set the exposure before they hit record. If you’re doing this yourself, preview the footage after you record it.

Image of front and back of an iPhone


What's the Best Angle?

Set the camera at, or close to, eye level. 

Correct eye level for video shown on the right; example on left is aimed incorrectly from below


What's the Best Lighting?

Make sure the light source is hitting your face and you don’t have a brighter light source/window “backlighting” you. Placing your lighting behind you will close down the iris of your lens and can leave your face underexposed.

Image on right show best lighting for video with the light infront; image on right is incorrectly backlit


Video Framing

Mimic the shot below. Divide the screen into thirds, horizontally and vertically, and position yourself along one of the intersecting points, on one of the vertical lines. The shot below is a medium-close up or head and shoulder shot. Avoid standing any closer and try not to be too far away. [Learn more about the rule of thirds]

Never use the pinch zoom features on smartphones. They tend to spread the pixels out and degrade the image.

Since you may only have the microphone that’s built into your camera, pick a quiet place. You should also make sure you’re close enough to be picked up by it. Depending on your phone, you may also be able to use the microphone attached to your headphones. The headphones aren’t always the best option but will work in a pinch.

Image of a man positioned on the right hand side of the screen illustrating good video framing


Do I Need a Tripod?

Use a tripod or make one! You can make one out of a paper cup or binder clips. Check out these tutorials:

Remember, you will need to raise it up to eye level. Stack of books? Tree stump? Top of a car?

If you have a cameraperson, make sure they aren’t covering the microphone… or the lens. :^)

Also, make sure they are holding it steady and not making too much sound with their fingers.

A disposable cup being used as a tripod to hold a cellphone


How To Film Yourself on iPhone or Android

This short video provides additional tips and ideas to help you make a successful video.