4 Tips for Creating Engaging Cell Phone Videos

Creating high-quality, engaging videos is one of the best ways to engage your audience whether you’re meeting digitally or physically. And, it’s easier than you might think. 

If creating video content is something you’re looking to start or improve, here are some great tips from Life.Church filmmakers. The best part? All you really need is your phone, and these four areas of focus.

1. Content

Focus on planning your content. What are you creating, and why are you creating it? Make sure this is crystal clear to you before hitting record. Your audience has a lot of choices when it comes to what they can watch, so be sure you get to the content fast. Add value in the first three or four seconds of a video, so load the front end of your video with the most important stuff. 

Here’s a pro tip for helping your content hit your target audience: aim up. Three years, in fact. If you’re speaking to 18-year-olds, speak to them like they’re 21. People don’t want to feel talked down to, and this simple idea can help your content feel valuable, not condescending. 

2. Authenticity

People can detect if you’re being fake, so be your authentic self. Want to come across as more personal? Imagine you’re talking to just one person instead of the masses. 

Another way to come across as more authentic is to look directly at the camera lens. Don’t look at yourself on your screen, look at that little black dot on your phone where the lens actually is. This will help people feel like you’re actually talking directly to them.

Lastly, be yourself. If your friends watched your video, would they say it’s you? Pastor Craig Groeschel has said it this way,

“People would rather follow someone who is always real, than someone who is always right.”

Don’t put on a show or a mask that hides the real you — people will want to listen to and follow you for exactly who you are.

3. Sound

As odd as it may seem, sound is more important to your video than the video itself! Keep this in mind as you’re choosing your location. Filming next to a noisy air conditioner or outside on a windy day will make your speaker hard to hear and will likely create annoying noises in the background that no one wants to hear. Distance from the camera is a HUGE key to success with sound. If your audience can see your whole body, you’re most likely too far away. Filming from mid-chest up is a good rule of thumb for capturing good sound without being too close.

What’s the best way to know if you’re getting good sound? Listen to it! Take the time to play back what you recorded and be willing to try again if you hear distracting noises in the background.

4. Composition and Lighting

Now we’re talking about how your video looks. For starters, film in landscape mode, instead of portrait mode. This will give you more options to edit your video later. Next, consider the Rule of Thirds. Simply put, mentally divide your image into thirds, running vertically and horizontally (most phone cameras have a grid feature to display these for you). Since people’s eyes are naturally drawn to the top and bottom thirds of an image, you can use that to your advantage by framing your eyes along the top third of the image.

As far as lighting goes, be sure wherever you are filming is well-lit, but make sure the subject of the video is brighter than your background. If you want to take it up a notch, shine a light source at the subject from the ten o’clock or two o’clock angle. For indoor filming, windows typically provide great, full, natural-looking light, so try to use them as your light source whenever possible.

What’s going on behind you? The words you are saying are only two-thirds of what you’re communicating —  the background is the other third. Is your pet rolling around behind you? Are people walking back and forth? These things communicate confusion and disorganization, so do your best to frame anything that could be distracting out of your shot.

Want More Tips?

For a more in-depth tutorial for how to shoot engaging videos with just your phone, watch this video with Life.Church Creative Media Filmmaker, Jesse Doland.

Above all, remember that these best practices all serve the purpose of removing obstacles between your content and your audience. This is the key! Make decisions in your filmmaking that help communicate your content to your audience in the clearest way possible.

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