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It is usually best to shoot to edit. That means that you already have a good plan for what you want your video to be before you begin shooting. 

Having taken the time to write your script and create a storyboard detailing what you want your video to look, feel and sound like, you are ready to start the process of making your video. 

Now is the time to refer to your script and storyboard for direction. Think about things like how you will transition from one segment to the next, what music and/or sound effects you would like to use and the types of shots you want, for example, do you want wide, medium or close up footage?


Below are some basic tutorials, guides, tip sheets and video for making your video with your phone:


The basics of creating video with your phone:


The selections below are from the WITNESS Resource Library: Witness makes their resources available in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Arabic. You can select the preview button to look at the resources on whatever device you are using or download to your device to look at later.


Video Production Basics: Basic tips for creating aesthetically appealing videos, including framing your shots and setting up interviews:

Filming with Mobile Phone: Quick tips for effectively capturing video on a mobile phone:


Recording a Selfie Video:


Stabilizing Your Camera:

Although your mobile phone is light, it can still be a challenge to get and hold a steady grip. The easiest way to avoid shaky footage is to get a better grip on your phone. Rather than holding the phone out, at arm’s length, tuck your elbows into your chest so that your camera is held close to your body. This will help you stabilize your arms, which will stabilize the camera. Another option is to use Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), if your phone’s camera has that feature. Some newer phones have Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) which can also help minimize the shakiness of videos. Check to see if you phone has either of these features.


The best option is a smartphone gimbal. Gimbals use motors or sensors to counteract the action of the phone as you move it. The result is footage that has no shakiness at all. It is important to remember though, that any additional equipment would be best to think about after you have made your first few videos. By then you will know if you are really interested in making more videos in the future. While making your first few videos you do not need to spend any money. In fact, making a video with your phone and camera alone is a tremendous accomplishment and will build up strong foundational skills. If you wish to pursue videography you will be off to a strong start! Then think about the pros and cons of purchasing additional equipment.


Focus and Exposure: 


Mobile phones will automatically detect and adjust focus and exposure. This is great when taking photos. But, when recording a video, you probably need more manual control. You can lock this feature on your phone’s camera and avoid leaving your footage overexposed and/or out of focus. 

To do this, simply tap on your subject or object to manually lock the exposure and focus of your video. You can also do the same to adjust the exposure and focus of your footage while you are filming. Manually setting the focus is a great technique that allows you to get close to the subject or object and get your camera to focus on a specific area.




Smartphones have very bright LED lights used when you have the flash enabled. Using the flash on your phone can affect the color temperature of photos or video you take. It is a good idea to experiment with the flash on and the flash off. Doing this will help you make better decisions about using or not using the flash. One of the best sources of light is natural light, such as the sun. You don’t have to be outside, the natural light coming in from a window can be a great lighting opportunity. Remember that having any main source of light directly behind your subject will produce an image or video in which the subjects features are shadowed. It is important to avoid backlit settings. This is because, while it is possible for you to see people and their faces when they are backlit, your mobile phone camera cannot. It will produce images and video footage with bright light around a dark figure or object. Your subject or object will not have any visible features or details. That means you won’t get the image or video you intended to. That is, unless you want to obscure the features or details of your subject or object. 


You want to have your subject or object facing the source of light or you could try having your subject or object at various angles beside the main source of light. If you need to take a picture to use in your video or record video at night, you may want to consider sources of lighting other than the flash feature on your phone, like street lights or the light coming from a store window. 


Shoot in Landscape:


Make sure you shoot in landscape, not portrait. Otherwise, you will have two black vertical bars along both sides of video footage. You can avoid this by turning your phone on its side and filming your footage in landscape orientation. Also, the correct orientation ensures that your subject or object completely fills the frame. 



Using Zoom: 


If you have it on your phone, it may be tempting to use the zoom feature to get a closer shot of your subject or object. What this does is incorporate a few software tricks that make your subject or object seem closer without any substantial amount of pixelation. If you are trying to zoom in using your phone without losing the crisp quality you want, just walk closer to your subject and record your footage that way.


Slow Motion and Time Lapse:


Trying out the slow motion and time lapse features on your phone can be a lot of fun, but don't overdo it! Most phone’s camera come with slow motion and time lapse features. The slow motion feature allows you to take videos at an accelerated frame rate, when played back at normal speed, the action in the footage appears much slower than real time. Time lapse allows you to record footage at a lower frame rate, when played back at normal speed, the action moves faster than in real time. Although these features are great for capturing some very interesting footage, it is important not to overuse them. For example, the slow motion feature is great for capturing unusual movements that the eye can't see, like a bird’s wings in motion as it flies across the sky. While time lapse is great for footage that spans over some time such as moving clouds or people walking. Using the time lapse feature gives you the opportunity to use footage to give a specific feel or effect to your video without taking too much actual time in your video, like the sun rising or setting. Both features can also provide a comical element to your video. Go ahead and take advantage of these features, but keep it simple!




Seeing what you don’t like and what you don’t want is very helpful. It will guide you to what you do want your subject, object, images and or elements in your video and the video itself to look like. You may want to do something like stand in front of a mirror and film yourself speaking for 30 seconds. Watch the video and get an idea of what you like and what you don’t like. Is the sound what you expected? If you were simply standing still in the practice video, would it be more interesting if you moved around? What effect did the lighting around you create? If you had music playing in the background, were you able to clearly hear your voice?


It is normal, whether you are a beginner or have more experience, you will probably feel some amount of frustration or you may feel overwhelmed sometimes. When this happens, you can step away from your project and do something else for a while. Then come back to your project with fresh eyes and continue working on it. Practice!

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