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Make Great Videos With Your Phone

Tips for Cell Phones Videos That Look and Sound Better


New cell phones can put an HD camcorder in arm's reach at all times, and have become the go-to recording device for many of us. Of course, the quality of cell phone video can vary wildly. This is partly because of the quality of the cell phones - some have better lenses and higher resolution than others. But it's mostly a sign of the quality (or lack thereof) of the person making the video.

1. Get the Wide Shot!

Climber takes smart phone pic from mountain summit
Ascent Xmedia / Stone / Getty Images

Remember this: All cell phone videos should be horizontal. It's tempting to turn the phone and frame a video shot, but that will be sideways when you watch on your computer or TV!

This is a mistake I see people making all the time. The shots can be rotated during editing, but then you end up with some serious pillar-boxing.

2. Record Phone Videos Outdoors

Bright light makes everything look better, including and especially cell phone videos. Try recording a nighttime video on your phone, and you'll be disappointed. And even shooting indoors with lights on can be problematic, with white balance and other issues to contend with.

For the best quality, shoot outdoors, but out of direct sunlight. The colors will pop and the video will be the best you'll ever get from your phone.

Watch Video: Outdoor Recording Tips

3. Keep the Lens Clear

I can't tell you how many videos from my phone feature a pink blob, creeping in from the side of the frame. Yes, the edge of my finger, once again obscuring the lens. As I, too, need to be reminded: Be careful to keep your fingers away from the lens on your phone. Let's not ruin anymore videos, ok?

4. Keep the Mic Clear

In the spirit of the previous tip, figure out where the mic on your cell phone is, and keep it uncovered and clear when you're recording video.

5. Keep Your Phone Steady

Phones are so light, that it's easy to jiggle them when recording video. For steadier cell phone videos, you can invest in a little tripod with a phone clip - or make one yourself, either with your elbows resting on something or braced at your sides.

6. Keep the Mic Close

Speaking of audio, it's often the worst part of recording video with a phone. Most phones don't have microphone inputs, but you can keep the audio quality up by recording in quiet spaces, and keeping the phone as close to the subject you're taping as possible.

Read more: Audio Recording Tips

7. Upgrade to a Good Phone for Video

Most cell phones can record video - even the flip phones from the early part of the century. But these older and cheaper cell phones record videos with a small frame size and low bit rate.

If you plan to record a lot of video with your phone, upgrade to one that shoots in HD. It's worth it, and you'll find it quickly replaces other, bulkier camcorders you may have been using!

8. Edit Videos on Your Phone

If you have a smartphone, you can download app that let you edit video right on your phone. As an iPhone user, I really like the editing feature included in the free Vimeo app, and I also have the iMovie app.

9. Upload Videos From Your Phone

YouTube makes it easy to upload videos directly from your phone with the YouTube app. If you don't have the app or a smart phone to support it, you can still upload videos by emailing them from your phone to a unique address available in the mobile setup section of your YouTube Account Settings.

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