Video for Business – Using a Smartphone

By | 10th February 2014

Smartphone with lapel mic

Smartphones are incredibly convenient for social photography and video but is the quality good enough for your business videos? We make extensive use of the cameras on our phones in all sorts of situations from documenting the condition of a courier package to images for our blog. In this article we look how these handy devices might be deployed in video production for business.

Each generation of smartphone brings improvements to the built-in camera technology. Optical image stabilisation was once the preserve of high end digital still and video cameras. These days it’s finding its way onto everyday handsets. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 is capable of shooting in 4K Ultra HD – that’s four times the resolution of 1080P Full HD!

If you’re looking for ‘broadcast quality’ video from a mobile phone then click away now….actually just scroll down a bit and watch the BBC training video. There’s no point in pretending that smartphones can match the picture and sound quality of even the most basic HD video cameras but we do believe there is room for them in certain business applications provided you’re willing to spend time learning how to get the best out of your particular device and stay within its limitations.

Thumbs Up from the Beeb

The BBC have recognised the opportunity smartphones offer to their journalists and have recently produced this useful guide. The film mainly covers news gathering with Apple iPhones but other mobile phones have similar capabilities.

Video Quality and Your Brand

Breaking news is an area where mobile phone footage is becoming more acceptable – not least because the alternative might be no footage at all or a reporter simply speaking to the studio via telephone.¬†Viewers of your online content will form perceptions and opinions about your business based on what they see and hear. Shoddy looking pictures and bad sound won’t do much for your brand image and the potential for damage is significant. If you are going to consider using smartphone footage in your public business videos then it has to be well shot and presented in a context where it fits in.

Internal business videos can be a good place to make use of footage recorded via smartphones. We produce quarterly sales conference videos with a national business services company. Video clips gathered by employees between conferences have been featured in conference presentations many times. Those videos served their purpose and were very well received.

As video producers we could easily dismiss all smartphone footage as not good enough. The fact is that a growing number of our customers and their staff carry a pretty reasonable HD video camera with them at work – albeit one built into their phones. It makes perfect sense to take advantage of this resource where possible and appropriate.

There are lots of reasons why it might be preferable for a customer to record some of the content for their own projects. At the top of the list is cost – the more stuff you shoot yourself the less you have to pay to the production company. ¬†For some clients the financial cost might not be the main issue. The logistics and/or environmental cost of sending camera crews to multiple locations may be more of a concern. By making smarter use of existing resources the client can save money and keep their environmental costs down. If the content is good enough for the intended usage then there’s no reason why we can’t work with it.

We’re currently working on an experimental project with a client for an online video series. A number of their staff are recording location videos and photos using iPhones. They have been equipped with tripod mounts, lightweight tripods, monopods and wired lapel mics. The plan is to edit the smartphone footage together with green-screen footage recorded in our studio. It will be interesting to see how this hybrid video project turns out. The decision has already been made that if the smartphone material doesn’t look or sound good enough then it won’t be used.

Free Lunch?

The bread making video above is an example of what can be achieved with just a smartphone and an editing app. Other than the graphic at the end, which was downloaded to the phone from the net, the whole lot was produced entirely on an iPhone. In this situation a smartphone was the only way to make the video – not least because the opportunity arose when we were almost 2,000 miles from the office!

BTW If you run a beach-side restaurant somewhere nice and hot and would like a FREE video like the one above then all you need to do is provide a free lunch or two….and fly us out for 7-10 days in July or August.

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