Lights! Cellphone! Action!

How to make great videos with your smartphone

Mario Armstrong, Emmy Award-winning media personality and digital lifestyle expert

A smartphone is all you need to make a great web video, so long as you can get a handle on the fundamentals of video production. Whether you’re looking to share more with friends and family, or you’re trying to kickstart your business with a YouTube channel, you need to take advantage of the fact that you carry an HD camera with you everywhere you go. With the explosion in mobile video recently (Socialcam, an app launched by BE Nexter Michael Seibel’s team, which lets you create and share videos straight from your phone, already boasts more than 16 millions downloads), this is the best time to start filming.

Get great lighting and sound. When I’m on the TODAY show, I’m in a studio with more lights than people. You’d go blind if you stared directly at them. The in-studio lighting is the biggest reason why people look so great on television. When I started a Web video series this year, I rounded up every lamp I could find in my hotel room, put 100-watt bulbs in each of them, and unscrewed the lampshades. It wasn’t perfect, but for a Web video it worked. Quick tip: never put the light source behind your subjects. Shooting outdoors? Face the sun. Indoors? Face the brightest lights in the room.  Also, covering the microphone with their hands is one of the biggest mistakes I see first timers make. Figure out where your phone’s mic is and keep your hands away!

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