With modern flagship smartphones now being sold with up to five high-quality, high-resolution cameras built-in, more people than ever are using them to film videos for YouTube and similar platforms such as TikTok and Twitch. You might be surprised at just how simple the technology is that your favorite creators are using to film their videos, which go on to get millions of views on these platforms.
If you can create unique and interesting videos, there is plenty of money to be earned by posting your videos on these websites. Let’s investigate how you can create your own unique videos – you don’t need to spend thousands to get professional results.
Explore the possibilities of your device
Many people will shoot hundreds of photographs and short videos with their phones, but never delve into the menus and find out what that device is capable of. The iPhone is regarded as an especially capable camera my most creators, yet it uses the same Sony sensors as many other phones which shoot far inferior quality videos.
The iPhone uses software tricks to improve your pictures and videos automatically, but you may not always want all these enhancements to be applied to your video. The back cameras are always more capable than the front “selfie” camera, but have you tried all the different cameras on the rear of your device?
Switching between shots of yourself and the surrounding environment can make your videos seem much more unique and interesting – we will discuss editing software which will allow you to do this later in this article. If you find you don’t have enough different shots, purchasing royalty stock footage can be a great way to add that professional touch to your videos.
A gimbal is a more advanced version of the selfie sticks you might have seen people using to take pictures in your city. These are a great investment if you are planning on shooting videos of yourself on a regular basis, but not an absolute requirement. You can simply prop your phone up on your desk in landscape mode, work out the perfect zoom settings to get yourself perfectly in the frame, and use the same spot each time you film.
Remember to look directly at the camera lens when you are speaking, otherwise your videos will look strange – you may appear to be looking over the viewers head rather than directly at them. If you want to film yourself whilst you are walking, a device with built-in image stabilization is a huge bonus. If your device does not have this feature, try holding your device with both hands instead. If the results are still unsatisfactory, consider purchasing a gimbal before splashing out on a new phone or camera.
Make your video look professional
If your videos are taken at a strange angle, they will be difficult to watch. This causes many viewers to switch to another video after just a few seconds. Most devices have the option to add a grid to the display, which allows you to use the background as a point of reference to ensure you are shooting straight on. Look for the grid option in your device’s camera settings.
Getting the lighting right when you are shooting is also very important – if the image is too dark, you will not be able to brighten the resulting video without reducing quality and introducing unwanted noise and artifacts. All modern smartphones have an auto-focus ability, but these features always rely on having enough light to keep the subject in focus. You may find that the camera will drift in and out of focus if there is not enough light in the surrounding environment.
Worse still, your camera may automatically reduce its frame rate if there is not enough light, resulting in jerky footage that is extremely difficult to fix in editing software. The torch or flashlight option on your phone will often be insufficient when shooting indoors or at night, so investing in a bright light designed for filming video is a must.
Choosing the right device
Sony now make several smartphones with the same lenses as their popular “Alpha” cameras, such as the Xperia Pro and Pro-I. These are very expensive phones, costing around $2,000, but might be worth the investment if you need a new phone anyway – having a camera of such high quality built into your phone means you will always have it with you should the opportunity to film an interesting and unique video arise. The Xperia Pro even has a HDMI input, allowing it to be used as viewfinder for a matching Alpha camera.
Despite Sony making such capable smartphones, their high cost means that not many people buy them. The iPhone can even seem cheap compared to some of these Sony flagships yet create similarly high-quality results.
Angles and effects
If you want your videos to get millions of views, you need to find a way to make them stand out- it’s an extremely crowded field, and Google does not reveal the details of how their algorithm chooses which videos to promote and recommend to new viewers. Placing your camera on your desk and looking straight at it provides natural results, but your video is unlikely to stand out if this is the only angle you use.
Try using multiple angles and experimenting with switching between your wider shots and close-ups – the results will appear much more professional if you edit this correctly. You can try placing the camera on the ground looking up at you or holding it high above your head – just have fun, experiment, and discover what works with your gear and what doesn’t. Remember, you don’t need to use a different angle for every single shot, but a little variety works wonders for holding people’s interest as they are watching your video.
Most modern smartphones have a variety of built-in effects you can use – but don’t overdo it! Using too many effects can be annoying for the viewer, but the occasional timelapse or slow-motion shot can make your videos seem much more interesting and unique. Timelapse works best when you can leave your camera in the same position, ideally on a tripod, for a prolonged period. On the other hand, a slow-motion section in the middle of a fast-paced action scene will give you a “bullet time” like effect, as seen in The Matrix.
And finally… cheat by using editing software
Getting everything perfect in a single take is extremely difficult, even for the most experienced professionals. Learning how to use video editing software, even at a basic level, will allow you to mix different recordings together into a single video.
Editing software gives you the power to remove any parts you don’t like, add a soundtrack, experiment with filters and zooming in and out. You might have lots of interesting video you have recorded which you can use as “B-Roll” when you are not looking directly at the camera.
The possibilities truly are endless and far beyond the scope of this article but learning how to use software such as Google Photos, GoPro Quick, or more professional grade software such as Adobe Premiere or Apple’s Final Cut can turn your videos from amateur to professional with just a couple of hours of work once you have learned how to use them.
It might seem obvious, but make sure you watch your entire video from start to finish before uploading it – the longer your video is, the easier it will be to make a mistake during the edit which will require you to fix the video and reupload it, losing your valuable view and like counters in the process.
Good luck with your videos – experiment with all of the ideas and features we have discussed here, and perhaps the algorithm will choose you next time you upload a video!
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