As the demand for businesses to create new video content keeps growing, it can feel daunting for small businesses trying to keep up. It just isn’t practical for most small businesses to run out and hire a video crew every time they want to make a new piece of content, while investing in an expensive and complicated camera can create more challenges than it resolves.
Fortunately, if you have a new smartphone with a pro-grade camera like the Galaxy Note10 or Note10+, you really don’t need a separate camera to create quality videos for your business. By adding a few of the right tools to your kit, your smartphone videos can quickly go from pretty good to professional. The best part is you can learn to do it all yourself without being a tech wiz or videography expert.
With so many smartphone gadgets on the market it might be hard to figure out which ones you actually need. There are plenty of different videography accessories you can experiment with, but here are some of the essentials to consider when building your video production kit.
Whether you’re filming from a fixed position or in motion, it’s super important to stabilize your smartphone so that your camera angle stays straight and the motion is steady.
Smartphone Video Rig
The video rig is like a multitasking assistant: It’s there to hold all your gear and adaptable to all kinds of shooting situations. This helpful device holds your smartphone and accessories and makes it easy to travel with and set up. Look for one with “shoe mounts” to which you can securely affix portable lights, microphones and other accessories.
Even if you’re not using lights or audio equipment, the handles on both sides of the rig make for a much steadier grip than trying to hold your phone in your hand while filming. Most rigs will also easily screw onto a standard tripod or other stabilization device.
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Rigs can range in price quite a bit. Lower-cost options are made of plastic and may only have a couple of mounts for attachments, while more expensive rigs are typically made of sturdier material, like metal, with ergonomic grips and more mounts for additional lights and accessories. Rigs vary in size, as well, so measure your smartphone to make sure it will fit.
If you already have a tripod for a camera at home, chances are you can also use it with your phone by adding an inexpensive smartphone adapter. Some newer models actually come with an adapter. A mini tripod can be helpful if you’re doing tabletop or countertop filming for close-ups of food prep or crafting, for example, and is also a great portable option to throw in your bag.
If you like to film action videos, like skateboarding and other sports, or you plan to film while in motion (e.g., walking, running or from a car window), you should invest in a gimbal. A gimbal is a filmmaker’s best friend when it comes to action shots. The motorized sensors will help you with things like tracking a moving person or object and keeping the horizon line straight even when you’re in motion.
A gimbal can also serve as a selfie stick if you do a lot of solo on-the-street or field reporting. The handle provides a little more distance between you and the camera and will allow you to maintain a smooth shot while speaking into the camera.
Even if you’re filming in ideal lighting conditions, there’s a good chance your subject could be a little brighter. Our eyes see light differently than a camera sensor does, so what might look fine to the naked eye can look much darker through the lens.
LED Video Lights
These lights are compact and portable, but they can really get the job done. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The smaller square type works well for mounting to your video rig (see above) and you can usually combine two or more of them to add as much or little light as you need.
Most models are also programmed with several color temperature options so you can go warmer or cooler depending on the light conditions you’re shooting in or the mood you want to evoke.
Ring lights are popular for portrait lighting as they give off bright but diffused light and minimize shadows. These lights are a favorite among beauty bloggers and are a great addition to your production kit if you like to film yourself or interview other people. The round shape creates flattering catch lights in the eyes, too.
Ring lights come in a range of sizes, from a 6-in. diameter up to several feet. It’s a good idea to get one that’s at least big enough to go around your phone so you can mount it in the center and create the most even lighting on yourself or your subject.
While you’re focused on getting the picture just right, don’t forget about the sound. Things like wind noise and low volume can distract from your video no matter how good it looks.
You would usually mount a shotgun mic on your rig and point it in the same direction as the camera. To record dialogue, look for a unidirectional microphone that focuses on the sound directly in front of it (unless you want a lot of background noise over the person speaking).
Make sure to place a foam windscreen or furry “deadcat” over the bare microphone to reduce wind and diffuse other environmental noise.
A “lav,” as it’s often called, is a small microphone that clips onto the lapel or collar of the person speaking. These are great during interviews as the lav will be much closer to the person speaking than a shotgun mic would be, so their voice will sound crisp and clear.
If you don’t have a lav mic, you can actually use the microphone on the cord of the earbuds the Note10 comes with. Either way, be sure the mic is secure so it doesn’t slide around or get blocked by the person’s hair or clothing, which can muffle the sound.
They’re not exactly high-tech gadgets, but adding a few everyday household items to your kit can come in very handy: a microfiber cloth for cleaning your camera lens, masking tape to secure the lav mic or loose cords, a lint roller to make sure your interview subject looks sharp and some handy extra batteries for your lights and accessories.
Keep all of the gear gathered up in a bag or bin so when it’s time to record, you don’t have to think twice about what to bring. Just grab your kit and go make your next professional-grade video to captivate your audience with your business’ message.