For a long time after its invention, shooting any kind of video was costly, time consuming, and tedious. Nowadays, practically everyone has a device in their pocket they can pull out and begin shooting and sharing high definition video in mere seconds. This ubiquity of high quality video has enabled not only more video, but more ways to experience events, and has even launched entire new industries around it.

While the spread of information is usually good, most people who share their videos never get any sort of training on how to make a clip look good. I’m sure you’ve seen less-than-professional, often unwatchable videos from your friends or on video sharing sites like YouTube, where you have huge black bars on the side, or it’s so shaky you get a headache just watching.

DailyAppShow outlines below five of the best tips to improve the videos you take on your iPhone. Check it out:

Hold Horizontally

It’s natural for a person to hold their phone vertically: that’s just how they fit in our hands. And this is totally fine for photos. There’s even a name for it: portrait. However, for video, this is an absolute no no. While you have the ability to shoot video in portrait mode, what happens is that people watching the video will be watching a sliver of action in the middle of the screen, while the rest is dominated by huge black bars on the side. It’s like watching a movie through a mostly closed door. Here is a brief PSA in the form of a song by Jonathan Mann:


While the latest crop of Android hardware does an pretty good job of compensating for shaky video caused by hand holding the camera, there are ways to make your videos even more stable. Even Hollywood movies that use the “shaky handheld” look use cameramen who first trained extremely hard to be able to take steady video, THEN studied extremely hard to film video that is shaky enough to give it a certain feel, but still stable enough to watch without getting motion sickness.

For decided non-pros like us, we could use some help. And since nothing is more stable than solid ground, let’s use that to our advantage by using a tripod. In order to use a tripod with your Android, you’ll need a least two things (and a highly suggested extra): the tripod itself, and a way to attach your device to it.
While we here at DailyAppShow like to use Manfrotto tripod legs (Like the Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro), you can get started with Amazon’s AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod.

Next, to attach your phone or tablet, you’ll need a tripod-compatible adapter. We like RetiCAM’s adapter for it’s solid aluminum build and easy to use mechanism. They also have an XL version* that’s compatible with larger phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note.
Although it’s not strictly necessary, we also recommend using a tripod head (the part that connects the camera or phone to the legs themselves) that is built specifically for video. Using a video head enables smooth side-to-side pans, whereas a regular camera head is built specifically for a completely static shot. You can get started for a low price with Grifiti Nootle’s video pan head.
You’re not limited to tripods though, and often you will want to take shots on the go. You can still get more stable video using something like a pistol grip or a stabilizing handle. We like the Opteka X-GRIP and the Sunpak Pistol Grip, both of which are compatible with the RetiCAM adapter.


Get more light

Just like in photography, the more light you have falling on your subject when shooting video, the better and more noise-free the results will be. Sunlight is a great source of light (most of the time), and you can definitely use the fiery sphere in the sky to your advantage. Just make sure your subject is facing towards the sun and that you’re not creating a shadow covering anything you’re filming. What’s not a great source of light, however, is your Android’s built-in flash. Try to avoid using the flash as your main source of light unless absolutely necessary, as the light makes skin tones look less than realistic and gives everything else an odd color cast. Use a lamp or other source of light to get your subject properly exposed.

If you want to get more professional with your lighting, you can invest in a softbox. Softboxes create bright, even lighting that will go far to help properly expose your scene. LimoStudio has a video softbox kit for only $32 (as of this writing) that has everything you need to get going.


Improve your audio

Second only to visuals is the audio in your videos, and this is another area where we can improve greatly on the usual experience of Android videos. Keep in mind, the default microphone that captures audio on your device is microscopic, and is only capable of capturing some of the full sound spectrum.

One improvement you can make is to get a second recording device closer to your subject. This can be another phone or some sort of audio recorder. To get your audio synced up, Give a loud clap at the beginning of your shot, and align the two audio files when editing.

Another route to get better audio is to route a traditional mic via your Android’s headphone port. Cable Matters provides a 3.5mm TRS to XLR adapter which lets you plug in any ol’ XLR mic. For a complete solution, the Takstar SGC–598 is a battery powered shotgun-style microphone with a 3.5mm connector that’s perfect for a mobile video rig.

To pick up great audio from one person, a powered lavalier mic that you can attach directly to the subject’s collar or lapel is the way to go, and you can’t go wrong with Audio-Technica’s ATR–3350.


Edit on the fly


Taking a bunch of great clips is great, but you’ll need to put them together somehow. Once I have all the pieces I need to put a project together, I use PowerDirector on the Play store to edit everything together. The app is easy to use but powerful enough to make high quality edits, and includes useful tools like pre-made themes, color filters, and lots of different transitions styles and other ways to customize your project. You can even bring in your own photos and audio. An in-app purchase of $4.95 will upgrade the app so you can export full HD videos without a watermark.

So there you have it. Following these five tips will help you bring your Android videos and movies to a new level, and you can be proud to share your new creations.