How to Shoot Great Testimonials With Your Phone

Author: Henninger Media Services | | Categories: Corporate Video Production , Video Marketing , Video Production , Video Production Company


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We originally started writing this blog post after a client asked for guidance in soliciting “Happy Birthday” video messages for their organization’s anniversary.  In light of the coronavirus, it seems even more relevant.  We are lucky to live in a time when the tools to make great videos are within nearly everyone’s reach.  If you have messaging goals to meet or videos you’d like to make but aren’t sure where to start, reach out to us.  We can help!

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Great videos can be made from footage filmed on smartphones. For social media in particular, this is an affordable and authentic way to create video content. “Testimonial” videos typically feature one or more people speaking right to camera, delivering information, a review or an appeal directly to you…the viewer.  No matter how familiar we are with our smartphones, it can be challenging to film oneself in a flattering way (our recent reliance on video conferences and FaceTime have proven this point).   Here are a few tips designed to make this task a little easier.

  • Think about the viewer experience.  If your audience is on YouTube or Facebook, perhaps the MOST important tip is to make sure your camera is oriented in landscape mode, not vertically in portrait mode when recording.
  • If possible, shoot in 4K.  That will give the editor more flexibility in post production.  If you’re going to edit the piece yourself, keep your editing system’s capabilities in mind.  If your computer is likely to struggle with 4K video, HD will be fine. 
  • Place the camera slightly above the eyeline.  That tends to make faces look a touch thinner and it avoids putting the viewer’s focus on things like double chins and the inside of people's noses.
  • Be aware of the background.  Film yourself in front of something visually pleasing, like a nice bookcase, or an open space that will be defocused in the background. 
  • Make sure to illuminate your face.  Harsh overhead lighting can create shadows under the nose and eyes that aren't super flattering.  Natural light is everyone’s friend.  This might mean standing by a window and enlisting someone to do the filming so that the light coming in highlights your face.  Or, film outside on a cloudy day!  Cloudy days give nice, flat, even light that is generally flattering to everyone, and natural backgrounds are great.
  • Pay attention to sound concerns.  Record in a quiet environment if at all possible. 
  • Check the amount of available memory and battery life before you start filming.

If you are planning to combine videos from different people together in the edit, you may want to ask people to film their messages a few different ways. For instance, you could have some people film themselves in the center of the frame, delivering their message right to a stationary camera and have others film selfie-style videos on their phones.  That way the editor has a variety of framings to work with. 

If at first you don’t like the video you’ve recorded, just delete it and try again.  The beauty of do-it-yourself approaches like this is that there isn’t a crew standing around waiting for you to “nail” your lines.  Get creative, and as always please reach out to the Henninger team if we can be of assistance!