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  • Writer's picturePhil Alampi

Guidelines for Capturing High-Quality Footage with Your Smartphone


Person using a smartphone to record a business video


Capturing high-quality footage at events with your smartphone can significantly enhance the content created from the event and allow for repurposing of that content into other channels. Follow these guidelines to ensure the best results:


1. Preparation Before the Event

  • Charge Your Device: Ensure your smartphone is fully charged before the event. Bring a portable charger if possible.

  • Clean the Lens: Use a microfiber cloth to clean the camera lens for a clear, smudge-free image.

  • Storage Space: Check that you have enough storage space on your device. Delete unnecessary files or transfer them to a cloud service.

2. Camera Settings

  • Resolution: Set your camera to record at HQ 1080p (for most regular footage of presentations and interviews) or 4K (for b-roll type footage) resolution. 

  • Frame Rate: Choose a 30 fps frame rate for most footage, 60 fps for b-roll or specialized footage.

  • Stabilization: Enable image stabilization if your phone has this feature.

3. Framing and Composition

  • Landscape Mode: Always film in landscape mode (horizontal) to match the aspect ratio of standard video formats.

  • Rule of Thirds: Use the gridlines on your screen to follow the rule of thirds, positioning your subjects along the gridlines or at their intersections for balanced and engaging shots.

  • Headroom: Leave a little space above the subject’s head. Avoid cutting off the top of their head or leaving too much empty space.

4. Lighting

  • Natural Light: Utilize natural light whenever possible. Position subjects facing a light source (e.g., a window) for even lighting.

  • Avoid Backlighting: Do not position your subject with a bright light source behind them to avoid silhouettes.

  • Artificial Lighting: If using artificial lights, ensure they are soft and diffuse to prevent harsh shadows.

5. Sound Quality

  • External Microphone: Use an external microphone if available for better sound quality. Something like this ($25) or this ($40) will capture way better audio than the smartphone mic.

  • Minimize Background Noise: When possible, record in quiet environments and minimize background noise. If the event is noisy, consider close-up shots where the microphone can pick up the speaker’s voice clearly.

6. Stability

  • Tripod or Gimbal: Optional but nice to have. Use a tripod or gimbal to keep your shots steady. If handheld, keep a firm grip and stabilize your arms by tucking them close to your body.

  • Smooth Movements: Move the camera slowly and smoothly if you need to pan or tilt.

7. Shot Variety

  • Wide Shots: Capture wide shots to establish the scene and provide context.

  • Close-Ups: Record close-ups for details and expressions.

  • Medium Shots: Use medium shots for general action and interactions.

  • Cutaway Shots: Record additional footage of the environment, audience reactions, or related objects for editing flexibility.

8. Recording Tips

  • Hold Still: Hold the camera still for a few seconds before and after each shot to ensure clean edits.

  • Multiple Takes: Record multiple takes of important moments to ensure you have usable footage.

  • Avoid Zooming: Do not use digital zoom as it reduces image quality. Instead, move closer to the subject.

9. Post-Event

  • Review Footage: Review your footage immediately after the event to ensure you have captured everything needed.

  • Transfer Files: Transfer the files to a computer or cloud storage as soon as possible to prevent data loss.

  • File Naming: Name your files descriptively and organize them into folders by event and type of shot.

10. Submission Guidelines

  • File Format: Export files in a common format such as MP4 or MOV.

  • Resolution and Frame Rate: Ensure the files maintain their original resolution and frame rate.

  • Send Files: Use a reliable file transfer service to send the footage to our editing team (upload or link in Trello).


By following these guidelines, you can help ensure that the footage you capture is of the highest quality and most useful for our editing team. Your attention to detail will contribute significantly to the success of the final video product.

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