Shooting high quality videos doesn’t mean you’re shooting with professional equipment. Which is great news because many churches cannot afford professional equipment! If you belong to one of the churches that can however, I recommend getting something a little more professional. You’ll have a lot more control. But as for today, let’s focus on just using what we have, our phones!) Its absolutely possible to create eye catching video from your smart phone!
In fact that’s never been more true until today! Because every day, smartphone cameras get better and better.
Here’s the thing. You’ve gotta know HOW to shoot with your phone. So today I’ll show you how to make videos on your phone.
I’ll be going over five simple strategies to making professional videos on your phone.
Stabilize your videos
One of the most distracting things of amateur looking video is the shakey look of the video. Whether you are trying to get a simple still shot, or a moving shot to follow your subject, you HAVE to consider stabilization.
First the tripod
Let’s start with the very basics. You’re going to want a tripod.
Tripods can range in price like crazy. You can get an $8 tripod from Walmart or you can get one for $800 online. Now of course, you get what you pay for. But when just starting out, what you’re paying for is to prop your phone up on something stable. And there’s nothing wrong with a cheap tripod just starting out!
And before all the video buffs start yelling about me advocating a cheap tripod; I realize the more expensive can be exponentially better. But let’s get our videos stabilized before we worry about the bells and whistles!
If you are looking for a super affordable option for tripods, head on over to Amazon. I’m sure you could also find one at your local Walmart. In fact that’s where I got my first tripod!
But what if you are looking for a more expensive tripod? One that has more of a solid build? One that will last much longer? One that has a built in level and a fluid head for those silky smooth pans?
This post is not meant to show every type of tripod, but I do want to tell you about my Church Video Buyers Guide.
It has everything you’ll need, from stabilization, to lighting, to audio, to editing software, etc. And we cover all price ranges. So if I were you I would check that out no matter what budget your church is at.
How to connect your phone to the tripod
So the tripod typically comes with a 1/4″ screw. This work with most cameras. But it WON’T work with your phone. Your phone doesn’t have a 1/4″ screw hole on it. So what you’ll need to get is a phone mount for the tripod.
These aren’t expensive! In fact, here’s one for only $7.99 on Amazon. It simply screws on to the 1/4″ tripod screw and clamps your phone, turning your camera tripod into a phone tripod.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: If you are on a strict deadline and have no time to go out and buy even a stupid cheap tripod, then you’ll want to create your own makeshift tripod. This might include stacking things together to prop up your phone.
I love what Dustin Wise with Steps Church (@stepschurch) did. I realize they had a tripod, but they had a very cheap that doesn’t get more than a few feet off the ground. Easy fix! They just grabbed a music stand and improvised! Thanks for sharing, Steps Church!
Lighting your subject
A rule of thumb to live by when it comes to lighting, is always try to have as much light as you can.
When you light your subject really well, your phone is good at compensating and bringing the “exposure” down on your image, making it so it’s visually appealing.
On the flip side however, when your subject is NOT lit up very well, your phone tries to brighten it up, but you end up getting nasty gray look with a ton of noise in your image.
So how do we get good lighting with low/no budget?
The best source of light is the light God gave us! The sun!
(Well technically it’d be “the Son,” being the “light of the world….” But anyway…) *insert record scratch here*
First let’s say you are shooting the video indoors. The best source of light when you have nothing else is to use the sun! What you need to do is set up your tripod with your face toward the window to light up your face. You don’t want your back to the window or you will look like a silhouette..!
Okay, but what if you want to shoot outdoors? You are welcome to shoot on a bright sunny day, but the optimal lighting situation outside is either in the shade on a sunny day, or shooting on a cloudy day!
“What?! Why a cloudy day? Don’t you want to have a pretty blue sky?”
While the blue sky is gorgeous it’s actually not the best situation for lighting. The lack of clouds causes harsh shadows on your subjects face and causes them to squint.
However, on a cloudy day, your subject doesn’t squint, and you get a nice even light on their face. Perfect for videos!
But what if our shooting space is inside away from windows?
I totally understand this scenario! My studio setup in my house is actually in the basement with no windows. So I have to light up my subject without the suns help..!
I’ve used two different options. The first is the more affordable one. Use clamp lights that you can pick up at your local hardware store.
But what I have used for a while is a Ring Light by Neewer. Its a dimmable light that I place by my camera that lights up my subjects face pretty well!
I have a whole article on that ring light if you want to check that out!
Get the best audio
Unfortunately there isn’t a great way to get awesome audio for free or even close to free. For years I worked with a very minimal budget and had to figure out the best way to get quality audio for little money, so I’ll give you my best recommendation..!
The Rode smartLav+. This lav mic (or clip-on mic) is very affordable as far as microphones go. The great thing about this mic though, is it plugs straight into your phones headphone jack. This allows you to record audio without an external audio recorder!
NOW I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING. What if I don’t have a headphone jack anymore!?
I know… I get it. It sucks. So my best solution is to get an inexpensive audio recorder like the Zoom H1. It goes for about $120 on Amazon. And you’ll also need an adapter to connect the Rode smartLav+ to the Zoom H1.
(They don’t work together without the adapter since it is designed to work with a smartphone headphone jack.)
So whats my free audio option?
Yeah I get it. If you’re working with a small budget, audio can be one of the most difficult parts.
So there is no great free solution for audio. However the tips I can give you, is to have your subject stand closer to your smart phone camera, and speak up.
The more your subject can project their voice, the less your phone needs to compensate and try to raise the volume. This will help get rid of surrounding noise such as room noise, or even the sound of cars driving by.
It really is possible to make great quality videos with what you have! No matter the budget, I want to help you and your church get to where you want to go with video. If you are stuck on what equipment to use, let me help! Check out the Church Video Buyers Guide. Check out my top suggestions that range from Free to Pro.