Smartphone video recording tips

Filming environment

  • Light source:
    • Use either light from the outside through a window, or a lamp.
    • Have the light behind the camera, not behind you.
  • Audio:
    • Pick a quiet spot or room. If you’re at home, plan to record your video when there are fewer people in the house.
    • Avoid windy locations.
    • Keep windows closed to reduce outside noise.
  • Tidy up your background.
    • But it doesn’t have to be a blank wall.
    • Have some distance between you and the wall to avoid shadows.
    • Your camera may even slightly blur out your background for you.


Check what you’re wearing and your hair.

  • Avoid clothing with busy patterns.
  • Consider wearing colours that contrast with your background. For instance, black on black may make it difficult for your audience to see you.
  • If your clothing has text, logos or recognisable images, consider if they are appropriate for your audience.
  • Tidy collars, check your buttons, clean your glasses.

Set up

  • If a dedicated video camera is not available, avoid using laptop webcams, they are generally poor quality and should be avoided.
  • No interruptions: Put phone in Aeroplane mode or do not disturb mode
  • Video quality: Check to see if your camera is recording in 1080p (Full HD).
  • Zoom: Do NOT use digital zoom. Instead, keep video zoom at 1x and adjust your distance to the camera.
  • Clean your lens. Use a soft, microfibre lens or glasses cloth.
  • Record your video in landscape mode (phone horizontal), NOT portrait/vertical.
  • Audio:
    • Ideally, use a dedicated microphone that can be positioned close to you, such as a lapel microphone that can clip onto your clothing and be visually discreet.
    • Do not be more than 1m away from the microphone (or your phone if you don’t have a dedicated mic).
  • Camera angle: Ensure the camera lens is at your eye level.
  • Frame:
    • Make sure there is a gap between your head and the top of the camera frame.
    • Have your eyes above vertical centre.
  • Camera support:
    • Ideally, use a tripod and phone holder
    • Otherwise, use books to prop up and raise your camera to the required eye-line level.
    • Make sure your phone/camera’s microphone is not covered.
  • Pause at the start and end of your recording for at least three seconds.
  • Look at the camera lens. not the screen.

Practice and check

  • Do a trial run and watch a recording of yourself. Ask yourself if there’s anything that you can quickly improve your recording setup (e.g. framing, clutter in the background, lighting, volume levels and audio quality)
  • Use headphones to check the audio quality of the recording when you play back your recording.
  • If you wear glasses, check for light reflections. You may need to raise your main light source and move it to the side (or move yourself and your camera).

Bonus points

  • Use the camera on the back of your phone. It is usually better quality than the front camera. You may need an assistant to help you with the framing.
  • Framing: you do not have to be horizontally centred. Sit/stand off-centre and add a visual “feature” to the other side of the frame to balance and complement you.
  • Experiment with lighting: try having your main frontal light source slightly to the side to give your face some visual “depth”
  • Audio: If not using a dedicated microphone, consider using a SECOND phone to record audio separately (as well as on the video).
    • Use the phone’s Voice Memo (iPhone) or Audio Recorder (Android) app or other similar.
    • Either place the second phone down nearby or hold.


Remember that this is a self-recording, so don’t expect that this is going to be studio-quality. It probably won’t be, so don’t be too fussy about the image quality. Be more focused on the story you are telling. These guidelines help to minimise distractions and hopefully make your story clearer to your audience.

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