Shooting Professional Quality Videos for Social Media on Your Phone

You can do a lot with smartphones these days. But with the overload of video content on social media, it takes a lot more than point and shoot to end up with quality video. Here are a few tips that can help give your video a more professional feel.

Lighting is something that is sometimes easy to overlook. Getting the correct lighting can make all the difference in your video. Natural light is preferable to lamp light. It helps evenly illuminate your subject without affecting the tone of the shot. When shooting indoors, face your subject towards the window if possible. If outside, face your subject more towards the sun. Set up your shot so the camera avoids shooting towards light sources. Too much light directed at the sensor and it loses the information it’s trying to capture, leaving your shot overexposed. Change your position to get as even lighting as possible.

Light It Up

Keep it Steady

You don’t really realize how unsteady you hold your phone until you try to edit the video. Shaky video can cut off important parts of the shot and becomes even more obvious once you add any type of graphics. If possible, use a level tripod, monopod, or other stabilizer as they are designed to keep video steady. If you can’t get one of these, a good last resort is to either prop your phone on a stable surface or hold it with both hands and tuck in both elbows to minimize shake.

Great video can be ruined if you can’t hear what anyone is saying. Try to shoot somewhere with little to no background noise (wind, overhead music, conversations, T.V.s, passing vehicles, etc.) If you’re using the built-in microphone, large empty rooms can sometimes make your audio sound echoey and if you’re shooting outside, it can easily pick up wind and other ambient noise that cannot be easily removed. Your best bet is to purchase an inexpensive external microphone such as a lav mic or directional microphone.

I’m Sorry, What?

Portrait vs. Landscape

The orientation of your phone while recording really depends on which social media platforms you are planning to upload to and what graphics you are wanting to add. For a more traditional ad layout, turn your phone sideways and shoot horizontally. This will give you more room for graphics during editing and be overall easier to watch at full size on different devices without seeing those pesky black bars on either side of your video. However, if you are planning on limited graphics, shooting video vertically may be more beneficial for apps like Snapchat or Instagram.

Before you start shooting, have an idea of what you want the finished product to look like. Know the beats of your video and take multiple takes from different angles as well as close up and further away. Knowing your script lets you know before shooting how many different scenes you’ll be shooting and how many different shots you should be going for. Knowing your location ahead of time will help you plan around lighting and save time when setting up your shot.

What’s the Plan?

Shoot for the Edit

Set up your shot keeping in mind your plan for editing. Make sure you leave enough space around your subjects so they don’t touch the edges of the screen and leave room for any graphics you want to add so they won’t cover the important elements of your video. This also helps if you end up needing to zoom in on the video. When recording audio, it’s best to record a few seconds before and after a line to give space for transitioning between shots.

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We Can Fix That in Post! 5 Phrases an Editor Lives By

With the ease and commonality of high-quality cell phone cameras, more companies are shooting their own videos for social media. While it’s easier than ever to shoot the footage you need without hiring a videographer, the convenience can come at a cost.

After sending your fresh shots along, how many times have you heard from the post-production house, “We can’t work with this”? Often, the fault lies in an innocent mistake you’ve made while shooting. An editor’s least favorite phrase is, “We can fix that in post.” Luckily, we’re here today to tell you 5 favorite phrases of an editor, phrases an editor lives by. Follow the tips below to avoid being the bane of the post-production house and to ensure you have an excellent looking finished project.

1. "Garbage In, Garbage Out”

Non-production folks tend to think that video editors are all wizards, capable of taking something awful and making it incredible with a wave of our wands. But the number one thing to remember when shooting is: “Garbage in, garbage out.”

This is a phrase production people use to remind themselves to get things done right the first time. If your video is shaky, poorly lit, or has noisy audio, you can bet your finished product will be shaky, poorly lit, with noisy audio. There’s only so much correcting that can be done to shots. So, before you call “Action!” look at how your shot is framed; can you see the subject’s eyes clearly? Can you hear them well? If the answer is no, try adjusting your set-up to maximize these factors. The production house will thank you, and your final product won’t look like you hired your nephew in middle school to do it.

2. “Less Isn’t More”

We would much rather sort through tons of footage than not have enough to work with. Make sure you shoot multiple takes of the same lines, better yet at multiple angles. This may seem like a lot of added work on yours and the talent’s parts, but you won’t be kicking yourself the next day after reading a message saying the talent flubbed a line or that a car drove past and the talent couldn’t be heard. If you shoot everything at least twice, you’re doubling your chances that you will have workable footage. If you shoot everything wide, and then do a close-up as well. That way you’re ensuring that the editor has something they can cut to if the first shot isn’t working out. Your talent would much rather spend an extra fifteen minutes in front of the camera than to have to come back a day or two later and do reshoots.

3. "Cutaways Save the Day"

Always shoot more than just the onscreen talent. This goes hand-in-hand with the shoot more rule. If you take the time to get extra footage (called b-roll), it can make a world of difference to your editor and to your finished product. After you’ve shot all your dialogue, get some detail shots of whatever your talent is talking about. Shoot it from multiple angles. Most importantly record each shot for at least 10 seconds without moving the camera so the editor has plenty to work with. Having these extra shots is useful when you need to make a cut that won’t look good on screen. It also makes your video look more dynamic by giving the viewer something else to look at. It’s much better to have too much b-roll than too little. This is also a great time to flex your artistic side a bit; don’t be afraid to try things out!

4. “Shoot for the Edit”

This rule can be a hard one to remember; we’re not all Stanley Kubricks or Alfred Hitchcocks. We don’t always think of things in terms of the visual. When you’re shooting your video, you’re probably more concerned with getting the lines right, but the devil is in the details. You need to shoot for the edit. That means hitting record ten seconds before saying “action”, your talent waiting three seconds before beginning their lines, and holding their composure for at least three seconds after finishing their lines. If you’re making a video with more than one location, you need to shoot your talent walking out of one shot and into the next. You need to sit back and think, “Okay, if I just mushed these two clips together, would it look natural?”

This also goes back to #2. You might think you have everything you need, but there’s always a chance your talent is holding their hands one way in a shot and differently in the next. We call this continuity. You want there to be a continual flow between shots so things don’t look jumpy or stilted. Take a few seconds to review your last clip before shooting your next clip.

5. “Don’t Write More Than You Can Chew”

Even if your talent is capable of delivering your lines perfectly, you don’t want to put long and complex material in front of them for a number of reasons. It’s always best to break the material down into smaller chunks and change the shot between each section. Doing so gives the talent more flexibility with their delivery, and by changing your angle in between lines you make your final edit more dynamic. No one wants to be lectured, and your viewers are more likely to maintain interest if they’re visually stimulated. Think about any movie or TV show you’ve seen in the last five years. It’s very rare that a shot sits on screen for more than fifteen seconds. You can lose your audience if you’re not making a cut every 5-10 seconds. Multiple angles (#2), b-roll (#3), and a more dynamic edit (#4) will keep your audiences’ attention. Save the rolling soliloquies for Shakespeare; instead opt for bite sized sentences with movement along the way.

Remember: we can maybe fix it in post, but we’d rather not. Since we just clued you in on the 5 phrases we editors live by, you can start living by these, too. Now the video footage you shoot will be great, so the final product we come up with will be even better.

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The Millennial Impact

on the Automotive Industry

Millennials are a unique generation of those born between 1981 and 2000. Also known as Generation Y, Millennials are now the largest generation in the U.S. labor force and are set to overtake Baby Boomers as the largest living adult generation by 2019. Everyone seems to have an opinion on Millennials, and because of this generation’s sheer volume, they certainly do get a lot of attention. People want to know how Millennials will affect politics, the economy, business, and the automotive industry.

Who are Millennials? (Aside from those born between 1981 and 2000.)

  • 50% are married.
  • The majority are college educated.
  • 1 in 6 are currently making over $50k.

These are powerful statistics when it comes to auto sales. This generation has buying power, to the tune of $200 billion per year.

Are Millennials buying cars?

Some studies find that Millennials prefer to spend their money on experiences rather than objects. Cars seem to be the exception to this rule. The Great Recession made for a slow start for many when it came to purchasing a car, but Millennials are making up for lost time. In 2013 they made up approximately 28% of the auto buying market, but by 2020, they are on target to exceed 40% of the market.

1 in 6 millennials are making over $50K

Millennials spend over $200 Billion per year

50% of millennials are married

Don’t Millennials just use Uber and Lyft?

The short answer, no. Uber and Lyft would like to appear so convenient and easy to use that we can eliminate auto ownership. In reality, 75% of Americans using ride-share services still own or lease a car, Millennials included. Millennials may not see automobile ownership as the status symbol it may have once been, but they do see the necessity. One factor in favor of owning or leasing a vehicle, particularly in large cities, is high housing costs. Affordable housing is often found farther out of the metro areas, which can make public transportation challenging, and ride-share expensive. Thus, the necessity of owning a car comes into play.

What are the car buying habits of Millennials?

Millennials love their online experiences, but when it comes to car buying, they still want to go to a dealership to experience the car in person and take a test drive. However, long before that test drive, the Millennial will begin the process of shopping and researching, online. These buyers grew up online and will become immersed in a dealership’s digital footprint. From browsing inventory on a dealership’s website, to interacting on social channels, to watching YouTube videos, Millennials will spend on average 17 hours researching a vehicle before purchasing, and 45% will do this research on a smartphone.

What is the future of the Millennial car buyer?

If anything is predictable about Millennials, it’s that they are unpredictable. The way Millennials do things is often unlike generations before them. We’re still uncertain of exactly what impact they will make to the automotive industry, but they most certainly will make one. Being aware of how Millennials are currently buying cars and their preferences on the buying experience will help you stay ahead of the competition. 

Information taken from

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