Remember the Flip cam? Those smaller cameras put news gathering capabilities in the hands of anyone with a desire to do it. To maximize the quality of the video, a list of best practices in video news gathering was developed.
Now that smartphones with video capability are everywhere, it’s worth talking again about techniques that can help the journalists who use them get the highest quality video possible.
1. Keep it steady. With any small camera, you have to work especially hard to avoid shaky cam. Look for natural tripods, such as a car hood or a door frame — anything that you can use to brace the camera. If nothing is available, you want to hold the camera with both hands and keep your elbows in close to your side.
2. Zoom with your feet. A digital zoom is pretty worthless — it’s best to just get closer to your subject.
3. Know your mic. Figure out where the microphone is located and play around a bit to determine how to record the best sound. Generally, you will need to move in close to the source of the sound or interview. If you’re willing to invest a little cash, you can buy external mic kits for smartphones that will improve the audio quality.
4. Look for the light. If you have the option, try to shoot video in good light. Low light situations are tough for smartphones and other small cameras.
5. Set it high. If your smartphone allows you to change the camera’s resolution, stick with the highest setting possible.
6. Hold it horizontal. Remember the aspect ratio for TV is 16:9 or 4:3, so you’ll want to hold your camera as you see in the screen shot below. (Thanks to reader RG for pointing this out!)
Though the video linked below was not designed specifically for journalists, it offers solid advice in how to shoot better video with a smartphone. It also features a few gadgets that can give you more options in the field.