Quick Video Tips on a Cell Phone


Video is an excellent tool to capture the fun of rehearsals, the stress of tech, and the joy of opening night. Yes, the big time shows may have a camera crew that comes in and gets this footage on fancy cameras - but guess what? You've got a video camera on your phone that gets better and better with each new model. So, as they say in the Cy Coleman show, The Life, "You gotta use what you got!" In this post, I"ll give you some simple tips to get great video using just your cell phone.

You, Your Cell Phone, and Your Brain

There are so many ways that you can use your phone to shoot video. For this blog post, though, it's for quick videos where the camera op is many times the subject. Perhaps you're outside of the rehearsal studio about to go in and you want to give some context on what the cast is working on. Or maybe you're going to give a quick historical tidbit about your theater space. Whatever it is, you want to think about what's in front of you, what's behind you, what's on you (like your clothes), and what's around you. I've put together a list to make it simple the next time you're shooting a video. 

Better Than Perfect

A quick note here - having a video that is not great finished is always better than not doing one at all. Just get it done. Work through the part of you that thinks your hair looks weird on camera, or that your voice sounds strange. Focus on the other aspects of the video as well so you can look more objectively. Over time, you'll get used to yourself. Work through your insecurities so that you can get the video done. 

This also applies to insecurities that you're video isn't good enough. Do it the best you can, edit, post and move on to the next one. 

So get out there!

Quick Video Tips

  1. Shoot in Landscape mode, not Portrait mode. (so that the shot comes out more horizontal than vertical)
  2. To avoid a shaky camera, use a tripod, stand, or balance your phone up against something.
  3. Make sure that the light is in front of you - not too far overhead or behind you.
  4. Look at what’s behind you. Is there a nice, clean background? Example: a brick wall, a bulletin board without anything on it, a painted wall. Sometimes if you take a few steps in one direction or the other you’ll be able to have clearer backdrop for your video.
  5. Check your audio. Can you be heard? This is especially important to keep in mind if you are outside, or if you are recording from a distance, or if an instrument is accompanying you.
  6. Wear clothing that is not too busy - solids work well.
  7. Be very aware of your opening moment - people can lose interest very quickly. Before you hit record, think of what you want to say. Have it ready.
  8. If you will need notes, have them at the ready. If you are using a platform that allows you to put up additional text and links, have those at the ready.
  9. Always include a call to action at the end. Even if it's something like, "share this with someone who could use this info."
  10. Ladies, shiny, super glossy lip gloss can catch the light and look weird. Matte is a better option.
  11. Turn off your phone so it doesn’t ring while you’re recording.