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How to create quality videos with a smartphone

Not everyone has the luxury of buying a £15000 professional camera for their video productions and the cheaper DSLRs usually have short battery lives, especially when recording video. Don’t worry, journalists can use their smarthphones to create quality videos.

Actually, many news organisations feature videos made on phones in their programmes. Maybe we don’t notice it because they are so well shot that we think they were shot with a camera.

Smartphones have the advantage of being very easy to use and save you from the fuss of having to carry and set up additional equipment such as tripods and boom mics.

New smartphones such as the Iphone7, the Samsung galaxy S8 and Google’s Pixel have excellent cameras which means that you can get a very good video image. This doesn’t mean that you can shoot a long theatrical film (although some people did) however, you can easily produce a great journalistic video.

With applications such as Splice you can edit on the go, without having to go back to the studio and use Premiere. This is very important for journalists who might be working alone and cannot carry many pieces of equipment with them and cover a real-life event simultaneously.

Here are some tips on how to produce a great journalistic video:

Story, Story, Story

No matter how good your technical skills are, if your story is not good, you have nothing. It is the same with literature and film. Even if you’re the best director/cinematographer or an excellent writer, if you don’t have something to say, nobody will be interested. So before shooting, always think about the message you want to get across.

Take still shots

It might be tempting to zoom in and zoom out while shooting or move the camera all the time but… this is only tempting for beginners. One of the basics of cinematography is to keep your shots still and just take additional shots from other angles when you want variety.

Shot angles

The most well-known shots are the wide shot, the over the shoulder, the close up and the mid shot. A mixture of these should be enough to create your content. Most times you will start with a wide shot to introduce the location of a scene (this is called an establishing shot). Try the close up to help your audience get a better feel of your characters.

Keep a steady hand

This is not as easy as it sounds. When shooting, I would recommend placing your smartphone somewhere where it will be stable or buying an affordable phone tripod.

Take your time

You might be inclined to cut the shot short and move to the next one but you always understand that this was a bad decision when you try and edit. Take at least 10 seconds of each shot to back up your material. It will come in very handy in the edit.

The 180-degree rule

This is a basic rule in filmmaking. When filming, imagine that there is a vertical line cutting your subject in half. Stick to one side of the line so you can create continuity. If you don’t the results will be catastrophic for continuity. You’ll sure notice it in the edit.

The 180-degree rule enables the audience to visually connect with unseen movement happening around and behind the subject and is important in the narration of scenes.


Experience is the most important thing in filmmaking. Many famous directors such as Cristopher Nolan and Alfred Hitchcock didn’t even go to film school. Besides confidence, experience can give you a sense of how each shot helps you tell your story, when to cut, how to pace shots, etc. With experience, all that now sounds like technical jargon, will become second-nature.


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