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  • toby wray

Video Tips for Marketeers #4 Filming Equipment Tips

We’ve all been doing it for years and smart phones are good but do you really want your video to look professional?

You can study film for years and still not be any good but I’m going to cover some of the basic mistakes people make on smartphones and DSLRs.

Landscape or portrait?

This is mainly for the smartphone users amongst you. Think about your end audience. When I’m filming family videos I always film landscape, eventually I plan to watch it on my TV and that’s how they’re set up. If I’m filming on my phone for social media, most people watch on their phones anyway so portrait makes more sense. If you’re on a DSLR you can film 4k landscape and then crop if you migrate the footage to social media, just be conscious of what you want in the frame.


On a smartphone never zoom using the digital zoom function, it drops the quality enormously, get closer. If you want to look slick on a DSLR cut the shot, move closer or zoom in, press record. You may want to change angles more than about 40 degrees too so it doesn’t ‘jump’ when you cut it together.

On board microphone (mic)

Whilst not ideal, sometimes it is your only option to use the mic fixed to the camera. Be aware it is closest to you on camera so breathing, moving your hands and chewing is not recommended. It may also pick up the sound of the camera mechanisms, oh and don’t move your hands, it will sound awful!

It is also good at picking up background noise. Later in this series I’ll write about using a separate mic.

Auto settings

Usually consumer cameras come with a fully automatic setting. When you are learning this is may be the best option however you will soon notice that sometimes it won’t focus properly or the colours will alter on cheaper cameras and phones. You can learn how to use these settings manually but it is often fiddly and difficult as they are hidden in menus making it impossible to change more than one at a time. The most important manual settings to use are Focus and White Balance. If they are easy to get at then spend some time practising with these. It is possible to set the White Balance before filming, but focus can change as you or your subject move around so sometimes has to be altered as you film.

You may need to practise this move. Smart phones and many cameras are gaining the ability to focus on a person even as they move but it isn’t always reliable currently. If you’re using a smartphone remember you don’t have to use the default camera software, there are many very professional apps out there you can use to get the best out of your camera including ones by Adobe.

Looking after your camera

I remember speaking to a marketing person taking pictures with the company ‘camera’, a smart phone. When he suggested it was just as good as a camera I asked him when was the last time he had cleaned his lens, his silence spoke volumes. Good technique is often about how much you respect your kit.

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