Making great online campaign videos with a camera phone

Campaign videos with just your iPhone

You don’t need a big budget to make campaign videos. In fact, you only need small budget, some time and a smartphone bought within the last 3 years.

For a quick campaign update, videos for your email list or Facebook page, nothing is quicker and easier than using your iPhone or Android phone. It’s simple to shoot, edit and post it your video within minutes.

You don’t have to be Steven Spielberg, but by using these easy tips you’ll dramatically increase your video quality.

Outline – Make a brief outline of your video before you shoot.  Take 3-5 minutes and quickly bullet what you want to say. Five minutes planning will reduce time shooting and improve your overall video.

What to consider when planning your video:

  • First few seconds matter – Hook your views into watching the full video. Grabs their attention and pose a thought provoking question or shocking fact. You’re convincing viewers that this particular video is worth the next 90-120 seconds of their lives.

  • Tell a story – Build interest from your original hook. People rarely remember specifics, but once weaved into a story, ideas become memorable.

  • Break it up – Break your video up into sections that you can shoot separately. Short clips improve quality. Better to shoot three tight clips than one meandering monologue.

  • Call to action – Give viewer clear instructions on what to do next. Examples: “Like our Facebook page”, “Donate $25 today”, “Share this video” or ‘Sign up to volunteer”.

Use a tripod – Buy  a cheap flexible tripod that you can bend and attach to things. Here’s a good one model for $11. Shaky footage = unprofessional video.  Eliminating shaky video is the easiest technique to increase video quality.

Sound quality – Nothing ruins a video like poor sound and most built in cell phone mics leave a lot to be desired. But an inexpensive mic attachment make a huge improvement.

  • Making great online campaign videos with a camera phoneThe iPhone Boom Mic – This specialty iPhone mic is only about $42-$47 with shipping. The mic uses a AAA battery and plugs into the phone’s headphone jack. (I was skeptical of this mic.  But it drastically improves sound quality and is worth every penny.)

Lock exposure and focus – Familiarize yourself with your camera’s focus and light balance settings. This is actually very, very simple and takes a minute to learn. Here’s a great, short tutorial for the iPhone.

Shoot landscape – Portrait style look weird on almost any screen.  This is particularly bad when uploaded to YouTube. Always default to shooting in landscape, you won’t regret it.

Film angle – Position the phone slightly above the subjects eye level.  This creates cleaner lines on the bottom of the subjects face and minimizes double chins.

Frame your shot – Consider, what will viewers see in the shot background? Is there something of interest that you want positioned in the shot? A famous building or landmark? A large crowd? Or something that reinforces your point. Also consider that the background may distract from the video?

Lighting – Cell phone cameras are not very forgiving with lighting but are getting better each year. We’ll dig into lighting in greater detail in an upcoming post, but to make sure your lighting looks decent on screen.

  • Avoid standing front of window if it’s bright out.

  • Avoid shooting right against a wall, allow for some separation so you don’t get harsh shadows behind your head.

Editing – The iMovie app ($4.99) is similar to the Apple video editing software but runs entirely on your iPhone. It makes editing multiple clips, splicing, and adding transitions a breeze.  The iMovie app allows you to add pictures from your phone and add effects and voice-overs.  Editing is a must for great video.

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About the Author

Trevor Bragdon

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Hi, I’m the founder of EquipGOP. Every election cycle I meet smart, hardworking Republicans who are running for the first time but don’t know where to start. EquipGOP's goal is to help these local Republican candidates learn tactics and strategies they need to win on Election Day.