PRISA’s workshop was held in Johannesburg from Tuesday, 18 July to Wednesday, 19 July. It was facilitated by Clayton Kohrs, a freelancer in film and television production, who taught attendees how to produce videos with their smartphones – from filming to editing.  

Master these basic elements of videography to create short social videos for your brand:

1. Basic equipment

What you’ll need is a selfie stick, a mini or standard tripod, headphones with a built-in microphone, and a headphone extension cord.

Most selfie sticks have a mount and screw attached to their smartphone clamps. Unscrew the mount from the pole and attach the clamp to a tripod to stabilise your smartphone. Even without a tripod, using the selfie stick with the pole attached can help you control the movement of your smartphone better.

Why headphones and extension cord? The sound that smartphones record as part of a video is not high quality – especially if you’re filming a person who is speaking.

Kohrs explained that smartphones will normally also record background noises and any sounds in close range to the videographer. If you’re filming an interview or a presenter, some of their dialogue could become inaudible.

Overcome this problem by taping your headphones’ microphone to the inside of your subject’s lapel or shirt. You’ll need a extension cord for your headphones so you can place at least 1.5m between your smartphone and the subject.

2. Framing your subject or object

If you’re filming an event where people are moving around a room or exhibition hall, there’s little need to frame the subjects in your video. If you are filming an interviewee or a presenter, however, then their placement in your video is important.

Khors suggested that videographers avoid placing their subject in the middle of their frame. Instead, he suggested using the Rule of Thirds. Imagine your image divided in two horizontal and two vertical lines. Your image’s strongest focal points are located where these lines intersect. Place your subject along one of the vertical lines.

Following the Rule of Thirds also allows the videographer to include more of the background in the frame. If you’re shooting your video on site or at an event, then including background will give your video more context.

On how to angle your smartphone at the subject, Kohrs recommends bringing your smartphone to their eye level. “Shooting at eye level makes the shot more personal and shows emotion.” In contrast, filming at a low angle can make your subject seem intimidating. Shooting from an angle higher than eye level can make them look small or inferior.

3. Lighting the scene

If you are shooting your video outdoors, there is often no need to setup lighting. “When you shoot outside, stick to 8am to 11am or 3pm to 5pm,” he explained. This is when sunlight is less harsh and won’t cause dark shadows to appear around your subject or object.

Shooting a video indoors often requires artificial lighting. One of the easiest ways to light your subject or object indoors is to make use of both the ceiling lights, also referred to as “house lights”, and natural light streaming through a window. Place your subject in a location where the ceiling lights illuminate their face, but is also close enough to a window so natural light falls on their back, illuminating their shoulders.

In a space with little light or no natural light, you will have to rely on the room’s house lights as your main light source. Use a separate light to illuminate your subject from one side. If you are filming your subject in front of a wall or flat background, as is typically the case with corporate videos, you can shine a lamp on the flat surface to add depth to your image.

4. Easy editing

In some instances, your social video will be a short, single clip of a presenter or of a scene at an event. To make your social video more informative and interesting, consider compiling multiple clips into your video.

To do this on your smartphone, you can either use a native video editing app on your phone or download an advanced video editing app from an app store. Most of these apps allow you to trim, clip, and merge your videos. You can also add background music, filters, stickers, and transitions.

Dubbing features let videographer add voice recordings to the video, which can work well if you prefer to narrate parts of your video.

Creating short video for social media can be easy, affordable, and effortless is you understanding the basics and practise often. With the fundamentals, marketers can create striking, informative, and attention-grabbing videos to boost their social media messages and create a stronger following for their brand.

In a world that demands ‘what it wants, when it wants’, marketers need to embrace visuals as a means of reaching their customers. Learn more about visual literacy in our article, Understanding the role visuals play in marketing.