Smartphone Videography

This 613U mini-course is intended to help you hone your skills as a citizen journalist. Get a quick introduction to the topic by watching the video. Next, checkout our list of suggested resources to learn more about techniques or tools. Share any questions or comments in the forum section, or better yet pass along other ideas or resources of your own. We hope you get inspired to try something new.


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Support for Videographers and Filmmakers in the Ottawa Area

Aspiring videographers and filmmakers can check out a number of organizations that offer equipment rentals, grants and workshops to its members.



All you really need is your smartphone. However, a small investment in a few pieces of equipment can make the filming process that much easier.

  • Smartphone Tripod – The cheapest version cost around $10 to $20 and will help avoid shaky shots.
  • External Mike – Starting at around $10, an external mike will help ensure good sound quality.
  • External Storage – For any video less than 10 minutes you should be fine with a spare 1GB of space on your phone. For longer videos you may want to bring along an external drive.

If you get into making smartphone videos, there’s lots more equipment – lenses, lighting, fancier tripods and stabilizers – that you can buy or rent to take your smartphone photography to the next level. But remember, all you really need is your phone.


Tips for Shooting

Shooting is the most important step to getting a quality film. Getting good footage in the first place is easier then trying to fix problems later on. Some important tips:

  • Orientation – Always film in landscape mode, since that’s how the film will be viewed on a screen.
  • Hold the phone close to your body and use two hands – This will help make your shots more stable. If possible, rest your elbows on a stable surface.
  • Don’t use the zoom! – It ruins the films quality. If you need to get closer, move the phone closer.
  • Lighting – Daylight is best. Avoid back-lighting the subject (e.g. filming with the light source behind the subject) unless you are going for a mysterious silhouetted look.
  • Audio – Avoid tunnels, echo-y rooms or windy areas, especially if you are filming without an external mike.
  • Vary your shots – Remember to get a variety of shots – wide shots, close-ups, b-roll – to give yourself lots of material to work with.

For more tips, check out these videos.


Tips for Editing

There are many apps for editing video directly on your phone, but its often easier to download your video and work off your computer. There’s no need to spend money, as most computers come with pre-installed video editing software geared towards beginners: iMovie for Mac and Windows Movie Maker for PC (as of January 2017, Windows Movie Maker is no longer supported by Microsoft but should still be available on many PCs.) Another options is HitFilm 4 Express, which offers a free version of its software for download.

Remember to get permission for any music you use in your film. If you know a musician you can ask them directly, otherwise you’ll have to obtain a licence. Some video editing software, including iMovie, have a library of stock music you can use for free without worrying about copyright issues. If you want a bit more choice, Jamendo and Audio Jungle offer thousands of tracks for a low cost licencing fee.

Tutorials on iMovie and Windows Movie Maker are included below.

A few more tips on creating interesting videos.


Tips for Sharing your Video

Once you’ve done all the hard work, you’ll want to share your video with the world. Upload the finished product to YouTube or Vimeo. You can always pitch your video to your friendly neighbourhood blog: all you’ll have to do is send us the embed code. You can also broadcast live or share your video on Facebook.

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