How to Film like a PRO with Android Smartphones

– This is the complete updated guide to shooting videos with your Android smartphone. We’re gonna cover everything step by step so that you’ll learn how to film with Android, with all the latest settings tools and Android video tips to help you get awesome results. Hey, it’s Justin Brown here from Primal Video, where we help you grow an audience and scale your revenue with online video. If you’re seeing value in this video, make sure you’re giving it a thumbs up, it really makes a huge difference. And all the links to everything that I mentioned in this video, you can find linked in the description box below. Let’s jump into it. Now we’ve created video guides like this before and the comments are always awesome, but it’s been a few years now and there’s been some big updates on Android and with the phone cameras themselves. So in this updated version, we’re gonna cover off on all the latest tips, the coolest smartphone gear that we recommend right now, and all the key settings and steps that you need right now to get the most out of your Android device. And just to be clear, you don’t need any additional gear to get great results with the process that I’m gonna show you, but I will mention some of the low-cost tools that I’m using along the way just in case you’re looking to take things further. And just the same as last time, there is no need to take notes as we go through, we’ve put together a quick start reference guide for you to download and use next time you’re filming so that you don’t miss any of these steps. So we’ll have a link to where you can grab your copy at the end of this video. Okay, so step number one is to prepare your content for filming. And I know it sounds obvious when you hear it, but it is so much easier to create an amazing looking video much faster and easier if you have prepared your content ahead of time instead of trying to figure it all out once you’re sitting in front of your camera. So what I’m talking about here is doing a little bit of planning upfront and working out what it is that you wanna cover off in your videos. Now, for some people that could mean writing a full-on word for word script, for others it will mean just listing out a few dot points or guidelines for what you’re gonna cover in your video, but doing this upfront is gonna make your filming much faster and much easier and it’s gonna allow you to create a much better video at the end of the day. Step number two is select a suitable location for filming. So here you wanna try and find a place where there is minimal background noise or distractions for your viewers. So if your filming spot has a ton of noise from kids playing outside, or someone with a leaf blower or a lawn mower going or planes flying overhead then it can be really distracting for you creating the content that can also be really distracting for your viewers watching your content afterwards. So you wanna try and find a place where there is as minimal background noise as possible. You’ll also wanna make sure that the background you have selected does match the theme, the style, the overall feeling, vibe of the video that you’re going to create. So it doesn’t make sense to go and film a cooking video in a gym, the background, the location just doesn’t match. So you wanna make sure that the content you’re creating is a match with the location that you’re going to be filming in. And I’ll also say the most ideal location will be somewhere where you can just set everything up and not have to pack it all up afterwards. So if you are filming in the living room of your house and you have to set up and pack up everything every time your family comes home or friends come over, then that can be a big distraction, a big procrastination point. So ideally your ideal location would be somewhere that you can set everything up, walk in, turn everything on, and you’re good to go. The next step is to decide whether you’re gonna use the front facing camera, the selfie camera, or the primary camera, the main one on the back of your device. Now there’s pros and cons of each. If you want the highest quality video footage out of your Android device, then that’s gonna be using the camera on the back. But that’s also gonna be much harder for you to shoot, especially if you’re gonna be filming by yourself because you won’t be able to quickly glance across at the screen because it’s facing back the other way. Now I’ll put a link up in the cards to a video we did showing you a few different methods where you can shoot your videos solo using that back primary camera and still being able to monitor everything. So I put a link up in the cards and below in the description for that one. The other option that you’ve got is to use the front facing, the selfie camera on your device. Now this is typically a lower quality camera, but in most cases, a lot of the front facing cameras on the devices these days are definitely more than high enough quality for you to create amazing videos. So the one I’m using right now is the front facing camera on a Google Pixel 5, and it looks pretty good. I like the convenience of being able to quickly glance back at the screen to make sure that, “Yes, I am recording.” Now if you are gonna be using the front facing camera, you wanna make sure that you’re making eye contact with the camera lens, not the screen itself. This is one of the biggest things we see all the time. There’s a disconnect, you’re looking at yourself but you need to be looking at the camera lens so you’re making eye contact with your viewers watching, so make sure you’re looking at the camera lens and not at yourself. The next step is to clean your camera lens. I know it sounds very obvious when you hear it, but most people don’t do it. These are our phones that are up against our faces, they could be our fingerprints, dirt, grime, makeup even on your camera lens and this will lower the quality of your videos, it will create a smudgy, smeary looking image, looks pretty bad. So all you to do is to clean that camera lens before you create any videos or even any photos for that matter, build that habit of just wiping it on your shirt if that’s all you’ve got. Ideally you’re gonna be using some sort of microfiber cloth or lens cleaning cloth, glasses cleaning cloth will also work, but you wanna make sure that your camera lens is clean before you take any photos or videos. The next step is to stabilize and position your camera for filming. So unless you’re after that blare witch style shaky video footage look, you’re gonna wanna try and get your phone out of your hands wherever possible. Holding your phone outright is the shakiest position, the worst position for you to be creating your videos in, even using a selfie stick is gonna be better than hand holding your phone, it will help take some of that shake out if you’re gonna be walking around, but also if you’re gonna be walking around, that’s where you could look at some sort of gimbal stabilizer like an Osmo Mobile to really help you take that shake out. But if you’re not gonna be moving around and you’re gonna have a static shot, a locked off shot like this, then all you need to do is position your smartphone with whatever you’ve got so that it is just below eye level, I do mean ever so slightly just below eye level, whether you’re gonna be sitting or standing. Now, ideally here, if you have a tripod, that’s gonna make it much easier for you. A great little portable tripod that I like and that I’m using right now on this setup is the Arkon tripod, it even comes with a little smartphone holder so that you can hold your phone in both portrait and in landscape mode. And these is currently selling for around the $20 price point, so ridiculously cheap. And you can also see in this shot that I’m literally just using a box to get that tripod and specifically the camera up to the right height, so it is just below eye level. So for you, if you’ve got a tripod, you wanna set that up now to the right height. If you don’t, use whatever you’ve got to get that phone out of your hands, to get it stable and to get it to that right height. It could be that you’re just placing your phone up on a shelf or on a bookcase or a TV cabinet, whatever you’ve got to get it out of your hands and to get it at the right height. The next step then is to set up your lighting. Now the most important piece when you’re lighting your shot is to light the subject of your video, whoever is in it or the whatever you want your viewers to focus on, that is the most important piece. So you wanna light that first and then if you’ve got any additional lights, then use those to light the scene or the background to make that look good too, but the priority is always whatever the focus of the video is going to be. Now, if you don’t have access to any lights then you can just sit in front of a window and get that nice natural light coming in through the window, but really any light that you’ve got access to can help improve your shot, it could be a desktop lamp, it could be a bedside table lamp, whatever it is that you’ve got access to, pull it in to again help light up the subject of your video.

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Now a great portable light that I use and that I recommend is the Yongnuo YN300 Air; crazy name, amazing light. It is ridiculously cheap and it throws a really nice soft light. So in terms of this shot here, I’ve got a lot of light coming in front of a big window that’s right in front of me, but I’ve also got a lot of light coming in off the side as well. So to even up some of that light, I have got one of those Yongnuo lights behind the camera here which is lighting up and filling in some of those darker shadows on this side. So it’s not a totally remove them, but just to lighten them up a little bit so the shadows aren’t so harsh. And this is what it looks like with that light off, so it’s not a massive difference but it definitely adds to the overall shot having it on. So now that you’ve got your lighting sorted, the next step is to connect your microphone, now audio, I would say is probably more important than the video, the picture itself. If you’ve got amazing audio, it can be much easier for your viewers to stick around and watch your video longer than if it was scratchy, if it was distorted, muffled, or really hard to hear you. Also if you’ve captured good audio and something happened to the video piece and it wasn’t usable, you could still create a piece of content using B-roll stock footage, photos, text, graphics, whatever it is, you’re still able to create a piece of content because you’ve got decent audio. If it’s the other way around and you’ve got an amazing looking shot and you’re talking in it but there’s no audio or the audio is not great then you’re not gonna be able to create an effective piece of content. So audio really important. What I would suggest wherever possible is that you are using an additional microphone and not just relying on the built-in one inside of our Android devices. If that’s all that you’ve got, just the built-in one, still use it, still create videos, but at some point when you can upgrade, it is a solid investment and will be my number one pick for anyone. If you’re gonna buy something to level up your videos, it’s gonna be a microphone. Now the microphone I’m currently using for this video is just a $20 wired lapel microphone called the Boya BY-M1, and actually a lot of the early videos on our YouTube channel we just filmed with this exact microphone. So for just $20, this microphone sounds amazing and will work on both smartphones and on DSLRs. Now if your phone doesn’t have a headphone jack plug on it then you will need to use an adapter from USB-C to that headphone jack plug so that you can plug in and connect this microphone. Or as another option, if you are gonna be moving around a lot with the videos you’re creating, then another great microphone is the Rode Videomicro, a little mini shotgun microphone that again you will need an adapter to use with your smartphone but it’s gonna give you amazing audio without the need to be tied or tethered or physically connected to your phone like I am here. Next up, we’re gonna prepare our phone for filming. So we’re gonna make sure that we have enough storage space available on our device to hold the recording of our new videos that we’re making. So if your phone is full of photos and videos and stuff, I would say back those up, remove them from your phone so that you have room for the new videos you’re going to make. You’ll also wanna check to make sure that you have enough battery life, you don’t want your phone going flat in the middle of filming. You’ll also wanna make sure that your camera recording quality settings are correct as well, and ideally set as high as they can be for your particular device. So you wanna open up the Camera app on your device, then go to the “Camera Settings”, and in there you’ll be able to see your video recording resolution. So if you’ve got the ability to do 4K, I would recommend it. If you’ve got the ability to do 1080, then 1080 is gonna be fine. And if you’ve got an older device in the highest quality setting that you’ve got access to is 720P, I wouldn’t say that that’s a deal breaker, it’s not ideal, but 720P will still be enough to get you good results. Now there’s one more setting that I wanna mention, which is mainly found on the newer devices, and that is that they have a setting for HEVC recording, for high efficiency video codec recording. Now if you have this on, it is gonna let you create a smaller video files, but there is still a lot of video editing apps and programs that won’t be able to read those files. So if you wanna create a video file that will work in pretty much any app or any video editing application then I would recommend that you are disabling or turning off HEVC recording. For me, I normally turn it off just so I’ve got the ability to use any app or any program without any issue. Next up, I would strongly recommend that you are enabling flight mode or “Do not disturb” mode or blocking mode on your device so that you’re not being interrupted while you’re recording your videos. So it could be that you have a phone call coming through, a video call, lots of emails, I mean, these are our main communication devices. So using it as a video camera, it’s likely that you’re gonna have distractions and things come through. So turning on flight mode or turning on do not disturb mode can save your sanity and your video files as well. Next up, you wanna lock down your camera settings so that nothing is going to change while you’re actually recording your videos. So by default, our phones are set to auto, which means that they’re gonna automatically make adjustments as things change in your shot. So it could be that someone walks through your shot, your phone might brighten the shot up just to expose for that person walking through or something happening in the background might change the overall brightness, might change the overall focus of your shot as well. So we wanna lock these down so that you are in control. You’re setting things the way that you want instead of your phone having that automatic adjustment capability. Now for most devices out there really can be as simple as tapping and holding on your screen and there’ll be a yellow box that appears, and that yellow box will then pop up and say that auto exposure and auto focus is locked at that point. So if you wanna make minor adjustments to brighten or darken your shot then you can do that there on the screen, and when you let go, when you remove your hand, then it’s gonna lock it and hold it at that point, so it’s not gonna change. So your focus will be locked and your brightness or your exposure will be locked at that point. Now if you’re gonna be filming by yourself and you’re going to be filming using the back primary camera on your device, then you could bring something else into shot to focus and set the brightness on. So it could be a light, it could be a pillow, whatever you’ve got, something to set that focus point and to set the brightness as well. Then obviously move it back out of shot to get ready for you to produce that content. Now there’s some devices out there that have a pro mode or professional mode that will give you much more granular control over your shot to be able to really lock everything down, to be able to adjust things like your shutter speed, your ISO, your white balance, and even your microphone volume level as well. If your phone doesn’t have that capability built in, then there are amazing third-party camera apps like Filmic Oro, which is our top pick, which gives you access to all of those DSLR like settings or professional camera like settings from your Android device. And they’ll even let you record at higher qualities as well. So if you want the most amount of control, and if you want the best footage out of your Android device, then I would strongly recommend using an app like Filmic Pro, or another great alternative that’s close to Filmic Oro, but free, is Open Camera. So one of those two is gonna give you a lot more options for your video recording. All right, we’re nearly there, you’re nearly at the point where you’re gonna create your video but there is one really important step that a lot of people miss and it creates a lot of headaches and stress for people when they miss this step, and that is to record a test video. So now that you’ve got everything set up, you wanna get into position, you wanna do a test run as if it’s the real thing, you gonna press record, you wanna create a short little video, 10, 15, 20 seconds, test your audio, make sure that your shot looks the way that you want it to look, that the lighting is how you want it, that your focus is set correctly, and obviously that there is sound and good quality sound coming through your microphone as well. As simple as this step sounds, a lot of people miss this and they’ll end up recording a whole video without their microphone plugged in, or it could be out of shot or the brightness could be totally wrong and they’ve just wasted an absolute ton of time. So save yourself some time and some sanity and do a quick test video before you create your real actual content. Now it is important here that obviously you’re playing this back to check that everything is the way that you want it, but this will mean, depending on your device and the microphone that you’re using, you might need to unplug the microphone to be able to hear and make sure that everything is how you want it. So the most important thing then is after you’ve done that test, that you plug everything back in, otherwise that test was pointless and you could end up creating a video without your microphone plugged in. And I’m sharing that because it’s happened to me more than once. So that brings us to the last step which is to hit that big record button and record your video. Now while you are recording, again remember to keep your eye contact on the camera lens. Don’t look at your cell phone camera if you’re using that front selfie camera, eyes on your viewers, the camera lens, and also make sure that you’re monitoring what’s going on around you, just in case there is something distracting happening in the background or even monitoring the noise in the area that you’re filming as well. So if a plane is coming over, a big truck pulls up outside, you could just pause and wait for that to move on or potentially relocate if you have to just so you can keep creating an amazing video. Now earlier in this video, I said I would share with you the downloadable checklist that you can download print out and use when you’re creating your videos from here on in so that you’re not missing any of these steps. There is a link to download your free copy linked onscreen now, there’s also a link in the description, so grab your copy and I will see you in the next video.

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