How to use your smartphone to create engaging content

The ability to create rich content is an important skill as websites are “video-hungry” and editors are increasingly demanding this kind of content.

Videos have the power to tell stories very quickly, while adding authenticity to a piece. At the Guardian we do a lot of live-blogging to capture stories as they are happening. These live-blogs often include videos or photographs taken out in the field and is where mobile journalism is a really valuable tool. Footage filmed on a mobile can really capture the atmosphere and illustrate the story.

“The beauty of using mobiles to film is that they are familiar. They are small, friendly and unintimidating. People are accustomed to friends and family taking photos and videos of them using a mobile, so using one professionally means you can get a more relaxed interview. Plus, it is often said that the best camera is the one we have and everyone has a mobile in their pocket.

Mobile journalism isn’t a replacement for broadcast journalism. It’s a tool that can help those who would traditionally use straight copy to get their point across. Neither is it a tool that’s exclusive to journalists. Anyone from campaigners and press teams to NGOs and bloggers can use this valuable tool to create rich, up-to-date and engaging content in an ever-changing world.

Here are my top tips on how to make the most of this valuable tool.

Use specialist apps
You don’t have to rely on the standard camera and editing software provided with your smartphone. There’s a wide range of specialist apps that will help to improve the quality of films and make editing easier. Ferrite Recording Studio is a good app for recording and editing audio, FiLMiC Pro is great for capturing video.

Record good audio
Recording high quality audio is a key aspect to creating professional content. When recording interviews, try to avoid loud places with lots of background noise and use an external microphone to improve the quality of the audio.

Frame it right
Think carefully about the surroundings and how the setting will appear on video. Just because you are using a phone, doesn’t mean you should ignore cinematography techniques. Make sure you have good natural light if possible, and if not use an external light source to illuminate your subject.

By Bill Shepherd, Behind the Spin, 2017