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Home / Tips and Tricks / Use your phone to make professional home videos: 8 tips for filming and editing

Use your phone to make professional home videos: 8 tips for filming and editing


Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Making a nice short film at home can be great to send to the family members you miss this year, who will no doubt want to be connected to the good times they miss. And the great thing is, with great cameras and even great editing software built into your phone, it has never been easier to create a delicious video to share with loved ones, whether you have the brand new iPhone 1

2 Pro Max . ($ 1099 at Amazon), the Galaxy S21 Ultra or an older generation Android phone

Here are my top tips to keep in mind when making your own video at home this year.

Think about what you want your video to be

Before you start, take a moment to think about what you want to include in your video. It could just be a full movie of everything that happens on your child’s upcoming lockdown birthday, but consider making it a little more specific. Maybe a video about the games you play together, or they open their presents.

If you have a specific story to tell, even a simple one, you can consider what photos you need, and it will help you shoot and edit only what you need, rather than spending endless hours of footage. seven through.


For my video, I made a list of photos I knew I needed, as well as a rough storyboard to help develop my ideas for angles.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

For my own festive video (embedded above), I decided to show you how to make my own hot mulled wine. Sticking to a specific topic allowed me to determine exactly which shots I needed and in what order, and even sketch a storyboard of shots in advance. You don’t have to go that far, but having a rough idea in mind will help a lot.

Set up your phone correctly

Almost all recent smartphones can take great videos, but it’s worth checking out the settings to make sure you’re ready to go. Your resolution settings are up to you, but full HD (1080p) is probably a good starting point as it looks good but doesn’t fill up your phone’s storage too quickly. You can crank it up to 4K if your phone allows it, or even drop it to 720p if you’re using an older device that isn’t editable either.

Keep your video clips short and sweet

While it’s easy to film a five-minute movie of someone peeling potatoes for dinner, the reality is when you look back on that, you realize it’s way too long to stay interesting. Instead, consider holding each clip for about 15-20 seconds. You might be surprised how long 15 seconds of video actually looks when you watch it back, and cutting much shorter clips together gives the video a more engaging, professional feel.


Don’t rush – I only needed about five seconds of this overhead shot in the finished video, so recording a minute or more of footage would have been pointless and time consuming.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Stabilize your phone

There is nothing that can ruin a video as easily as shaky hand shots. If your phone has stabilized video mode, make sure it is turned on. If not, consider using a small tripod to keep your phone steady. As a result, you, the filmmaker, are of course also involved in the action, which is great if you’re the one cooking or handing out presents.

Be creative with angles

A great way to improve the cinematic qualities of your movie is to experiment with different angles. Suppose you capture the moment your child takes a present from under the tree at Christmas – don’t just film it from your standing position close by, but instead think about how to capture that moment in a more exciting way. Maybe even put the phone in the tree, among the presents, so you can see your child reaching for the camera to pick up their present.

There is no end to the ways you can play around with your angles, so think about how to shake things up. You can always try re-recording certain things from multiple angles (or set up a spare phone or camera for a different angle) and then cut them together in your video editor. For example, in my video I wanted to show the cinnamon and ginger being thrown into the jar, so I used two angles: one from a first-person perspective and another where I had placed my phone behind the jar. jar to show that I’m throwing in the ingredients. It’s little elements like these that can make a big difference overall.


I used a tripod to take this photo from above and used a small LED light to brighten up the cider in the pan. It’s not an elegant setup – the light is just balanced on a paper towel roll!

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Improve the audio

If your video features people talking to the camera – maybe your kid is thanking grandma for the gift – then you need to make sure your phone can capture that audio clearly. For best results, consider buying a small external microphone, such as the Rode VideoMicro, which you can plug into your phone’s headphone jack (or the power port) via an adapter and will significantly improve sound quality.

If you don’t want to invest in additional gear, there’s a lot you can do to help. Turning off or at least lowering the background music or closing the doors to drown out kitchen appliances will make a huge difference in how clearly those voices can be picked up.

Experiment with slow motion and time lapses

Most recent phones have slow motion video recording and time lapse modes, and both can be great tools for your video. Of course, it must make sense to use them – slow motion to slow down fast action and time lapse to speed up a long sequence.

In my mulled wine video, I used slow motion when lighting the stove to give a cinematic quality to the erupting flames, and I also slowed down the footage of throwing ginger into the jar to create a great slow-mo. effect on the cider splashing up. Since it is a short sequence, it didn’t make much sense to make a time lapse, but if you want to capture the whole process of making dinner, for example a time lapse from high in your kitchen, video showing you move in a few hours might be a nice addition to a holiday movie.


I set up a stage for the final shot: some festive orange pinecones for my Christmas tree. A little extra effort like this during filming makes a huge difference in the finished video.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Edit your video

Once you have your video clips, it’s time to put them together. This can be the most challenging part, especially for those of you who are completely new to video production. Fortunately, there are easy ways to do things.

Some phones, such as the iPhones ($ 599 at Apple), as well as recent Samsung Galaxy phones, have built-in automatic creators that allow you to select single clips and automatically merge them into a movie, complete with background music and transitions between clips. They are not always the most elegant of productions, but they are worth bearing in mind if you are a total beginner.

Or look at apps such as GoPro’s Quik. It’s free and you can also put multiple video clips in a project so that the app automatically turns into a finished movie. iPhone users will also be able to use Apple’s iMovie for free, an extremely easy-to-use video editor, with a variety of presets and styles available. Adobe Premiere Rush has a wide variety of editing tools and is made mobile-friendly. It’s a great app, but it costs $ 10 (£ 9, AU $ 15) a month, so it’s only worth considering if you feel like doing more video production.

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