Training Snippets Blog

Training Snippets' Workplace Health and Safety Blog, providing advice on OHS, WHS, OHSE issues, innovations, and engaging safety training videos.

Top tips for making videos with a smartphone

Helen Bitmead - Monday, May 09, 2016

In a previous blog, we taught you about the power of video-based learning to educate. But what if your filming budget is minimal or non-existent? Does that mean giving up on the whole video idea altogether - or is there another way? With a little thought and preparation, you might find that your smartphone is…smarter than you thought.

Everyone loves a video

The statistics on video marketing are astounding. According to some estimates 100 million internet users watch video each day, nearly 50% of internet users view at least one video online over the course of a month, and according to one researcher one minute of video has been estimated to be worth 1.8 million words. It’s not surprising, therefore, that video is such an important teaching tool. But telling a good story via video requires skill and experience. If you don’t get it right, you won’t engage your audience and nothing will be learned. But there will be times when you have a quick message to get out to your team, learners or customers and you simply can’t afford to bring in the professionals. So what do you do?

Smartphone to the rescue

‘I’ve got a smartphone with a camera; I’ll do it myself this time,’ you might think to yourself. Not a bad idea, but it needs to look at least half decent if you are representing your business. If you need to go down this path, therefore, Training Snippets has a few tips to help you avoid common pitfalls: 

1. Before you start filming make sure you have enough free memory on your phone. This might sound obvious, but you would be surprised how many people get caught out. For one minute of video, you will need at least 200 MB of free space.

2. Make sure the camera lens is clean and the battery fully charged. Again, sounds obvious, until your battery runs out and you realise that your footage isn’t clear. 

3. Choose an indoor position where there is plenty of light and it’s quiet. Stand your subject(s) on a spot or sit them on a low back chair to prevent them from moving around.

Positioning your subject facing a window is ideal as it will help to light them nicely.

Avoid positioning your subject in front of a window as this will be too bright, making your subject too dark. 

Position yourself and the camera one metre away from your subject. Any further away and he will be too far from the microphone on the phone.  This will make the finished audio difficult to hear and your subject will sound like he is in an empty hall.

4. The phone should be the same height as the person you are filming, so support your elbow on something such as a cushion or the arm of a chair. If you are standing use your free hand for support. This will help to prevent the shot from moving around too much and make the finished product look more professional.


5. Hold the phone sideways (landscape) rather than up and down (portrait).  If you do it this way, your video fills the screen instead of having black pillars either side with a long skinny picture – think about it as being the same shape as a television or computer screen.  


6. Avoid zooming in on the phone, as this will make it too hard to hold steady. You will get better results if you move closer to your subject. And make sure the camera focus is on your subject by tapping on the person on the screen. This tells the camera to focus on the person rather than the background – you will see the focus box centre on them.

7. Be careful not to cover the microphone at the bottom of the phone (or the lens) with your hand.

8. Once you start filming keep the top of your subject’s head in shot and make sure that they speak with a strong voice (no whispering).

9. You are now a filmmaker (of sorts)! Practice a few times until you’re happy with the results and, most importantly, have fun! 

10. Please remember point number 6 - we see this one all the time.

11. And remember - some jobs are best left to the professionals. If smartphone footage will do then great, but for a polished finish you might need a hand.


Helen Bitmead

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