Make A Killer Video Using Your Smartphone

InstructionalVideoInfo-01When you’re building a course from scratch, you’ll want to include as much multimedia as possible. Video is a great way to incorporate your skills as an in-person lecturer into your online course. And video is fast becoming one of the most viewed content types on the internet.

Professionally done video filming can blow a hole in your budget, but luckily, the smart phone revolution has made things much easier on the amateur camera operator. Most smartphones these days include high-quality video cameras with sensitive microphones, eliminating the need to hire someone or buy expensive equipment. The only thing you need is yourself, a smartphone, and a stand or tripod to hold it steady. 

Some more tips to make a killer video using your smartphone:

Framing and Video

1. Ideally, you should have the frame centered on what you want your students to focus on. If you’re standing still and lecturing, your face should be at the center of the screen horizontally. This gives the effect of the instructor being eye-to-eye with the student watching the video.

2. It can be hard to keep a steady camera if your phone is hand-held. Invest in a smartphone stand or a tripod to keep your device steady. You could also use a whiteboard as a prop to keep you within the frame (incase you plan to move while talking).

3. You want to film in landscape (horizontal) orientation if you’re planning on integrating the video for your students, because portrait orientation, on a default video player on any computer, results in two heavy black bars on either side of a vertical image. It’s amateurish and wastes space.

4. Avoid using the digital zoom option on your smartphone, unless your phone has optical zoom. It produces a grainy, pixellated image with washed out colors. If you need a zoom in or out on a subject that you’re filming, you should physically move closer and further away instead of relying on the camera zoom.

Lighting Tricks

1. Avoid strong lights behind the subject. It gives an angelic light-halo effect that may seem artistic, but it makes the face nearly invisible, obscures details and darkens all objects other than the light source. Since you’re choosing the set for your video in advance, you can make sure to pick a place where the lighting is ideal for both your phone’s camera and your subject.

2. Be sure to disable any LED flash or light on your phone before filming to avoid unpleasant color effects or red-eye. You can even set up additional lights in advance. Bright bulbs at or above eye level, such as in a standing floor lamp, behind and to either side of the camera position, with some kind of diffusion covering (like a milky-white glass bulb or fabric light shade) will produce good, clear lighting at a reasonable cost.

3. You could also jazz up your set by using a colored backdrop or a picture frame suited to the course you’re talking about. Keep in mind your target audience and don’t go overboard with the decorations. Golden rule – if it feels like too much, it probably is.

Audio Quality

1. Phones vary wildly in microphone effectiveness. Before you do any serious filming, try recording short clips of someone speaking at the same distance. If you’re using a phone with sound quality you’re not happy with, try picking up a small Bluetooth microphone that can connect with your phone. If you can get one that will attach to your collar or lapel, that’s ideal. If not, try using a headset – it’s more obvious on video, but the boost in sound quality is worth it.)

2. Make sure you’re in quiet surroundings before you start filming. Choose a time frame which minimizes the probability of disturbances, such as your little kid walking in or unexpected doorbell rings. Also put your phone on airplane mode, unexpected calls or messages can throw you off your game.

Timing and Editing

1. Traditional classes range from half an hour to several hours long per session. When you’re creating videos for an online course, though, you need to account for a shorter attention span. Aim to keep your videos under 10 minutes long.

2. If you’re producing a lot of video for your courses, you may want to invest in a good desktop video program for editing. This is where your video really comes together. You can cut out errors, splice together multiple takes or splice in other videos, add subtitles or title cards, and more.

3. Consider adding closed captions for your video. It helps a wide set of non-native english speaking audience. You could hard-embed them in your video or upload a separate file along with the video, in case you’re planning to upload it via YouTube.

Once you’ve mastered the art of producing good instructional videos, put them in the context of a full course and get the most out of your work! Siminars offers a robust, feature-heavy platform to help you move your classes from lesson plan to live online course. Click Here to learn more about what Siminars can do for you.

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