10 tips for shooting better video on your smartphone in 2019


In a 2017 article, I offered tips on recording a video on your smartphone. Now that it’s 2019, and we have more proof that video is the best way to reach people through social media, I thought I’d make sure the tips are still good. Some are and some aren’t.

One thing that hasn’t changed — a video doesn’t have to be a complicated effort with a professional film crew, script writing, and high-end editing production to effectively share your farm’s story. Authenticity, transparency, and behind-the-scenes shooting is better than professional production, especially when it comes to filming on your farm.

People want to see the animals. They want to see the big equipment and farm life. People love the wide-open spaces. Remember, most of our consumers are dwelling in cities and urban areas. The farm is exotic and interesting to them.

Something else that will never change is the best videos are entertaining, relevant, and useful. Make people laugh. Make them cry. Help them learn something. You can do this.

If you decide to use video of your farm, here are some tips I recommend:

My first tip is one I missed in 2017 but it can’t be ignored in 2019!

1. 2019: Three Seconds to Scroll

Start with the action right away because people have very short attention spans (three seconds) and if it doesn’t interest them immediately, they will scroll past your video. Check out this Instagram post below from Richardson Family Farm.

2. 2017: Always shoot horizontally. 2019: Always shoot for the social media platform!

If you are sharing on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., then shoot vertically. People love vertical video now because the platforms allow you to do some cool editing to vertical video (especially in Facebook and Instagram Stories). Check out SeeJessFarm on Instagram for great Instagram stories.

3. 2017: Use a tripod or put your phone on something stable. 2019: You can move around if you want but don’t try and hold your phone with one hand for selfies.

Try not to move too fast. Pan around, move slow. It won’t bother the viewer as much.

Checkout TDF Honest Farming’s video for a stable platform.

3. 2017: Lighting is important. 2019: Lighting is still important.

Try to record in a lighted area that is not in direct sunlight so you aren’t squinting.

4. 2017: Frame yourself to the left or right. 2019: It depends on if you are shooting vertically or not.

Worry more about the viewer seeing what they need to see.

5. 2017: Get close to the phone for audio. 2019: Audio is super important but the microphones on phones have gotten better.

I still like using a small wired mic for my phone that is inexpensive at online shopping sites.

6. 2019: You must close caption your video.

Eighty percent to 90 percent of people don’t have the sound on because they are watching in a place where the volume needs to be off. Closed-caption video allows users to read what you are saying. Clips by Apple and Clipomatic by Appalon Apps can help you do this.

7. 2017: Depth in the background. 2019: It’s more important to have authentic surroundings.

I would worry more about getting the scene to match what you are talking about. I would also say that animals still outrank people for interest (and the chance they could do something funny is pretty high), so film them and talk about your cow care. Don’t shoot yourself or anyone else against a wall or shadowed background. This statement still holds true.

8. 2017: B-roll helps the viewer pay attention. 2019: This is still the case so mix it up if you can.

If you can get B-roll (extra footage) or photos and edit them into the video, there is a greater chance the viewer will remain more engaged. Next time you catch the news, watch how many times the segment cuts to a person on the scene or includes B-roll to help keep your attention. If you are doing the video live, make sure the background is interesting or switch to just shooting video of the animals and environment. Checkout this Undercover Video from Dairy Carrie.

9. 2017: Do not use the zoom! 2019: Unless you have the new phones with mechanical zoom rather than digital zoom.

Wow, phones have gotten so good with video.

10. 2017: Practice, practice, practice! 2019: This hasn’t changed, but I would say you should be doing intentional practice (i.e., practice to improve as athletes do).

You will improve at filming, video editing, and companies are constantly making the software better. Things that used to take days in video control rooms can be done in minutes with a phone app. It’s crazy.

You can always delete what you’ve done and try it again.

My two favorite video editing apps are still Video Show and iMovie. Both are easy to use, but Video Show has become costlier. I would also recommend inShot and the video editing abilities of Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube are much, much better.

If you need help making videos, reach out to me at or ask how to join the checkoff’s Dairy Hub, where I include how-to training on making videos. We also have a Dairy Checkoff Farmer Group on Facebook where we talk about promotion and consumer engagement.

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