Thanks to the advances in technology, it is becoming increasingly feasible to record quality content using nothing but your smartphone. Obviously, there are some limitations – the quality won’t truly match an expensive camera recording done by a professional team, but if budget, resources or accessibility are an issue, you can easily create content of a passable quality using only 2 mobile devices (one for the microphone and one for the camera) and the tips below.
Also keep in mind that the better your mobile is, the better the overall quality of your recording (both audio and video). You should typically use the best mobile you have available for the camera, and your other device for the microphone.
Before you setup:
- Clean the lens of your mobile with a soft cloth to remove any dust or smudges that might be present.
- Go into your camera settings and set the video recording quality to its highest setting. The values to change would be your megapixels, resolution and format.
- Make sure that you have turned off the aircon in the room where you are recording as this will help improve the audio quality.
- Try and take advantage of natural light if you have a window in the room. Place your subject so that the light from the window is falling on them. This will ensure a crisp, clear image.
- Make sure there are no light sources behind your subject in the frame, like windows or lamps. This will distract the viewer from the subject and make exposing them correctly difficult.
- Do not use the zoom feature in your camera – this reduces the visual quality. Rather, move your subject closer to the camera or vice versa.
- Try and use the space in the room. Do not film your subject directly against a flat wall. Create depth by leaving a lot of space behind your subject in the frame.
- Use the second mobile as a substitute microphone. You can record using the stock voice recording app that came with your mobile or any other kind of voice recording app – but do not use the camera app to record the audio.
- Place the mobile as close to the speaker as possible whilst still looking natural. Usually you can place it on the table in front of them or in the subject’s top front pocket with the mobile mic facing outwards.
- When you press record on both the camera mobile and mic mobile, make sure you do a clap sync. Once you have started recording on both devices, clap as loudly as you can.
- Make sure that both devices can pick up the sound of the clap, as this will be used to synchronize the video footage and the audio track for the editing.
- Rather record one file as opposed to stopping and starting. Doing several takes opens you up to recording inconsistencies (e.g. you accidentally move the camera, you forget to press record on the audio).
- Test the audio quality by doing a test recording where the mobile will be placed to hear if the audio quality is clear enough from that position.
That covers everything you can control in terms of the technical settings. One other factor that really helps improve the quality of your videos is the correct preparation. Make sure that your subject has been briefed correctly, and that they have had time to rehearse their performance.
Take your time and try not rush the setup or the recording. If you have prepared properly, you should only have to press record once.