When YouTube first launched, the idea of shooting a video on a phone probably seemed like science fiction. It was 2005, years before even the first iPhone and Android phones had been seen by the public. The best selling phone that year was the Nokia 1100 – and it didn’t even have a camera!
Amazing how much technology has changed in the last 15 years! Today with virtually any mobile phone, you can shoot, edit, and upload HD videos to YouTube with incredible speed and ease right from your mobile device. In fact, using mobile phones to create and publish videos to YouTube is now the fastest-growing way creators use the platform!
So why are YouTubers now choosing to create videos with their phones? Let’s find out and discuss some of the best ways you can become a pro YouTuber using only your mobile phone!
Why make a video on your phone?
Mobile phones have great cameras
There are a lot of reasons to make YouTube videos on your phone but let’s start with the simple fact that you already have one! The best tools are the ones you have, right? Why shell out the extra cash for a camera and an editing computer when you’ve got both already, right in your pocket!
And while you might be thinking, “won’t a fancy digital camera make a better-looking video?” That might have been the case a few years ago but now most phones are equipped with up to 4K cameras! In most cases, the average Joe isn’t going to be able to tell the difference between what you can shoot on your phone versus what you would capture on a high-end camera. Today the resolution of mobile phone cameras is even comparable to a $5,000 DSLR that also shoots 4k Ultra High Definition!
A complete production, everywhere you go
Mobile phones today are like having a movie studio with you at all times. You can walk right outdoor and start making your next video without being tied down by a bunch of bulky gear. You’ve got your camera, microphone, light, and even your editing suite right there with you! That being said there are a few ways you can optimize the quality of your videos shot on the fly with your phone.
How to capture great content with your phone
Camera, microphone, and apps
Before you start rolling there are a few techniques and tricks to consider to get the best video out of your phone.
The quality of phone cameras is pretty outstanding these days, however, they do have a few limitations. Most phones have a lot of auto features and while this sounds great, it can actually get in the way. It can be quite frustrating if your focus or brightness starts automatically shifting when you’re shooting.
To get complete control over your camera we recommend using a 3rd party camera app. A lot of these add features that the phone designers overlooked and can let you easily control the exposure and focus manually. Also, they can give you access to some pretty cool features and effects that don’t come standard on your phone. To find the right one for you, take a look at your app store and search for “camera” and check out all of the options available. Many of them are free!
Have you ever tried zooming in on something with your phone and noticed how the quality of the image drops off? It’s because your phone is using a digital zoom. Most phones have fixed lenses meaning the lens itself can’t zoom in and out. A digital zoom is when a camera magnifies and crops an image. The more you zoom in the less the information the camera is collecting.
It’s best to stay at the same camera zoom when making a video on your phone so the quality stays the same from shot to shot. If you aren’t able to frame a subject the way you want without zooming you should either move closer to your subject or think about getting an attachable lens for your phone. There are a lot of inexpensive options out there that can let you widen your field of view or get in a lot closer without lowering your image quality.
Phones have had microphones since the day they were invented however they were designed for a very limited use. The microphones built into phones don’t work well beyond talking directly into them close to your mouth. Phone designers have put a lot into developing the best cameras for shooting video but they haven’t done so much for mics.
If you plan on shooting or recording audio from a distance, you might want to look into buying an attachable shotgun or lavalier mic. These amazing mics can completely transform the quality of your sound production and are some of the best investments you can make for making video on your phone. Check out our Best Mics article for help finding the right one for you.
We’ve already talked a bit about camera apps but there are all kinds of apps you can use to enhance the visual appearance and sound of your video. From adding basic graphics to sound filters, there are hundreds (probably thousands!) of ways to manipulate media with apps. Check out Google Play or the Apple App Store and see what’s out there!
Since many of these apps are free to download, you can accomplish a lot without the need of purchasing expensive equipment and still be able to create some top-quality content.
The best camera is the one you have with you
You never know when inspiration will strike! By using your phone as your capture device, you don’t ever have to miss a moment. Since you carry it in your pocket all the time you’re ready-to-shoot anywhere, anytime. It isn’t only helpful for a lifestyle vlogger, but for every YouTuber who loves finding inspiration around them.
How to film with your mobile phone
Since mobile phone cameras aren’t the most advanced cameras on the market, they will work best when you give them the best shooting conditions.
Mobile phone cameras love good light and you don’t have to be an expert or own expensive lighting gear to shoot a nice looking video. You can get great light if you know where to look. Avoid conditions like direct sunlight, overhead light, or strong light behind your subject. Look for soft light that falls right in front of where you’re filming. Just moving a few feet into the shade or shooting at a different time of day can make a world of difference in your image quality!
If you want to control your lighting, there are a lot of options for camera lights. A set of LED lights with softboxes are great for beginners. A ring light is a common solution for vloggers. If nothing else just grab a few lamps. Just make sure whatever lights you use, the light they produce is the same color. For more on this, you can check out our complete guide to lighting equipment here!
The unsung hero of video. Focus is so important there is a position dedicated to it on Hollywood movie sets. If you shoot out of focus there is going to be very little you can do. Unlike lens distortion or a shaky camera, blurry focus can’t be fixed and your shot will be unusable. As we mentioned earlier, autofocus can be an issue when shooting on a mobile phone. Before you shoot anything important, test your focus to be sure you know how it works!
It’s hard to watch a shaky video. No matter how great your content is no one is going to watch more than a few seconds if the camera is bumping around. It’s distracting and makes some people feel sick.
This doesn’t mean you can’t record your videos handheld. Thankfully most phones have built-in optical image stabilization (OIS). But don’t think you can go running with your phone and expect it to look smooth. When walking evenly and slowing or standing still while filming your phone should be stable enough to capture usable footage.
We recommend using both hands and bracing your arms on something whenever you can to make getting a stable shot easier. Also, be careful with zoom. The more zoomed in a video is the more dramatic even the slightest movement seems. If you plan to hold your camera for longer periods or plan to move with your shots, we recommend looking into either a tripod or gimbal.
Just remember, there isn’t a video stabilization tool out there that can perfectly fix a video if it’s too shaky.
A smartphone tripod
A mobile phone gimbal
How to record better audio on your mobile phone
Poor audio can quickly sink any video. Savvy video creators know that a video is only as good as it sounds. Use the tricks below to help make sure you don’t end up with bad sound for your videos!
Remove ambient noise
One of the best tricks to better audio is to know your location. Before you record, ask yourself a few questions:
- Are there any constant noises that a microphone would pick up?
This could be things like an A/C or interstate.
- Do any loud noises occur on a fairly regular basis like cars driving by or planes flying overhead?
- Will there be people where I am shooting making noise?
- If you’re shooting outside, is there wind or running water?
If the answer to any of these is yes, you need to record very close to your subject or consider moving locations.
If you have already shot and found you have distracting sound in the background you might want to consider a 'free apps' to normalize the sound. Many of them offer a noise reduction tool and equalizer. These apps can also include some great features like sound effects, voice speed, or sound manipulation that can add another layer of creativity to your sound design.
Record audio separately
No matter what you are shooting video on, recording audio separately is always a fantastic option. It helps create a less daunting task by separating the controls for simultaneously capturing visuals and audio. If you are using an external mic outside of the built-in microphone it can help free up your phone from additional equipment and wires. You can even record on both your phone and external device to create two separate audio tracks to help ensure you have good quality sound every take.
How to edit YouTube videos?
You did it! You have wrapped shooting on your YouTube video. Now to paraphrase the late Philip Seymour Hoffman on editing – “A YouTube video is made in an editing app.”
Find a good editor
You're ready to edit the video on your mobile phone but without using a quality video editor, you can't expect great results. We recommend downloading one of the best video editing apps on the market PowerDirector, which is available for both iPhone and Android. It is an Editor’s Choice on Google Play and offers all of the powerful features you need for editing video on your mobile device.
With advanced features like Blending effect, Chroma key, Mask, Multi-track, Transitions, and Stickers, PowerDirector is one of the best video editors around. Here is the download link for Google Play Store and Apple AppStore.
Trim all of your usable clips
Once you have a video editor you like it’s time to start cutting your video together. Trim all your clips down to only the usable parts then assemble them to tell your story. Take the time to carefully choose where a clip ends and begins. Try to keep a quick pace because no one enjoys watching a video that drags.
If you’re completely new to editing, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Editing. It will get you up to speed on the basic editing techniques you’ll want to know before you get chopping.
Don’t forget your intros and outros
Intros and outros are a great addition to any YouTube video. Keep the introduction energetic and try to include a hook, something that will grab your audience’s attention.
In the outro, it’s a good idea to add a call to action. Ask your viewers to do something – like your video, leave a comment, subscribe to your channel, or watch other related videos – so your viewers know what to do after they watch your video. This is essential to getting engagement and growing your audience.
How to put your video on YouTube?
Once you've finished shooting and editing, you can publish your video on YouTube. Follow this step-by-step process to put your video on YouTube.
In the YouTube App on your mobile phone do the following:
- Tap the "Camera" icon (Find it at the top section)
- Select the "Video" option from the two options
- If you need to trim your video, you can use the YouTube editor for any small last-minute adjustments. You can only do simple edits like:
- Trim your videos
- Add a filter
- Add background music
- Tap next, once you’re done editing
- Add an attractive Title, Description, and Catchy Thumbnail
- Mark “Privacy and Location”
- Tap Upload
Keep the thumbnail, title, and description relevant to your content to make sure your audience can find you and beware of using any sort of ‘Clickbait’ information. It will only work against you by lowering your view time and bounce rate of your videos. Be sure to use a great thumbnail that both catches attention and shows off what the video is about. Make it appealing but if it isn’t relevant to your video, viewers will certainly be turned off.
Once you have published your video, sit back, and watch that view count climb! You check back in every once in a while to see if you’ve gotten any comments or feedback and be sure to stay engaged with your fans!
That’s it! You’re now ready to start growing your YouTube empire right from your mobile phone! We hope you’ve learned a lot here and we’ve inspired you to get out there shoot, edit, and share your vision with the world!
If you liked reading this article, you may like reading our ultimate guide to becoming a YouTuber. Check out our blog section to view even more great articles