Tips for Shooting the Perfect Video

Shooting the perfect video requires more than just a good camera and some decent lighting. Whether you’re creating content for your brand or just trying to improve your video-making skills, there are plenty of tips and tricks to help you achieve a professional-looking result. Here are some essential tips for shooting the perfect video for your TownSite.

Before the Shoot

Getting the Right Equipment

Before shooting your video, make sure you have all the necessary equipment. This includes a high-quality camera, tripod, and microphones. In most cases, you can simply use your smartphone camera with a stabilization accessory. Essential video tools to consider include:

  • Microphone: Don’t use the microphone on your camera for busy settings! Lavalier microphones are essential for shots such as interviews.
  • Tripod: If you’re in the shot, you’ll need your hands free. Invest in a good tripod to allow your camera to stand freely during the shoot, no crew required.
  • Gimbal: If you do have to hold your camera, it’s a good idea to use a stabilization tool to keep your footage steady while you film. Consider purchasing a gimbal to accomplish this.

Be Prepared for the Shoot

Before you begin recording your videos, make sure that you have all your gear, scripts, interviewees and shooting locations ready to go. Additionally, make sure your phone an excellent and that you have enough storage space on your device to store the footage.

Take Off with Airplane Mode

You’re moving in for the perfect shot, and you’re capturing a priceless moment—and then your perfect shot is interrupted by your phone ringing—your camera is ringing! “Cut! Hello? Hi mom, I’m busy shooting my movie.” It’s happened to me.

Go into your phone settings and put your phone on airplane mode. All the functions of your phone will work except your shoot won’t be interrupted by another phone call or annoying text. You want your smartphone to be a 100-percent dedicated camera for your shoot, not a communications device.

Charged and Ready

Always make sure your phone is charged and ready to go. Shooting video on your phone drains the battery faster than talking or listening to music on your phone.

An Easy but Important Tip: Clean Your Lens

I recall how a friend was shooting video one day, but his friend’s lens was dirty, which produced blurry video. Make sure your lens is clear. If it’s not, carefully clean it with a microfiber cloth.

Scope out the Joint Before Shooting

Make sure that you are aware of your surroundings and the items in the business before you shoot your video.  If you are shooting the preparation of a meal…make sure it is flattering to the business.  Do not get a close up of the grease on the wall or a dirty rag etc.

During the Shoot

Shooting in Landscape

If you’re shooting a long-form video, remember to turn your smartphone sideways to landscape mode. The normal way you’re use to holding your phone is profile mode. Note that landscape mode resembles the dimensions of your 16×9 TV. Note also that when you watch YouTube videos or feature films on your smartphone, you turn it sideways for the image to fill the whole screen. If you don’t shoot your movie in landscape mode, you’ll have black bars on each side of the image, and your movie will not fill the entire screen. So, landscape, don’t profile!

Shooting Format and Resolution

Before you start shooting with your smartphone, you need to go into your camera video settings. You will have a choice of resolution quality. Usually the options are 720, 1080 (2K) and 4K. I’m sure that 6K and up will soon be available for your phone. I recommend shooting on 720 or 2K because the quality is awesome and both resolutions are broadcast quality. If you shoot in 4K, you will very quickly eat up a lot of storage space on your phone. In the video settings, you should also have the choice of shooting at 30 frames per second or 24 frames per second. Choose 24fps for a more film-like look.


There’s something else you should keep in mind when thinking about flash and lighting in general: avoiding backlit settings.

You may be able to see people and their faces when they’re backlit, but your smartphone camera usually can’t and will output footage with a bright light haloing a dark figure. That figure will also have no visible features, meaning you just missed whatever it was you were trying to capture. Unless your phone has some really advanced HDR capabilities, that’s something you definitely need to keep an eye on.

To avoid this situation, try configuring a basic light setup. Those of you who are recording on the fly can also improve a backlit situation by moving to one side or another or moving your subject so that they’re facing the light. Although some stock camera apps try to reduce the effects of backlighting, you should try reducing the effects on your end as well.

The Audio Matters as Much as the Video

A good video with poor audio quality is junk unless you plan to add a completely new audio track “in post” (while editing your video). While you want your video to look good, the quality of your audio is more important than the video – so it should matter as much, if not more. Unfortunately, the built-in microphone in most smartphones (if not all of them) is both low quality and improperly placed. It’s very common to catch wind and unnecessary environmental noise that will compete with or drown out any important audio while shooting video outside. This is almost impossible to edit out later. It is advisable to shoot your video in a quiet place, preferably indoors when possible with less ambient noise.

Point of View

Ask yourself “Where am I pointing my camera lens and from what angle?” Consider point of view figuratively, as well: “How will the video’s point of view help me tell the story?” Some videos are like selfies and use a very subjective point of view to connect viewers to the story. For other videos you might want a more detached, less personal point of view. And when shooting small children or babies, get right down on the floor to shoot.

And Finally: Double Check Your Video While You Are Still at Shoot

Play back your video clips to make sure that you can hear them clearly and that you’re happy with how all your shots look. If you find that you are missing a clip or you aren’t happy with a take, then reshoot while you’re still set up. This will be much easier than having to organize a reshoot later.