Whether you’re heading to the beach, the mountains or a wonderful city vacation, your vacation can provide incredible opportunities to shoot fun creative movies with your family and friends. And you don’t have to haul cases full of gear through airports because it’s possible to shoot professional-looking video using just your iPhone or Android phone. Smartphone camera technology and editing software just keep getting better, with phones like the iPhone 13 Pro, Pixel 6 Pro or Galaxy S21 Ultra producing incredible videos with minimal effort.
But still, it takes more than a good camera to capture videos that you will want to watch over and over again. You also need to know how to use the camera properly, how to capture the right moments and what to do for a good looking shot. A creative look and some planning ahead will help too, taking you from a simple home video to something more inspiring that you’ll want to share with your family and watch again in the years to come.
Here, then, are my top tips that you should keep in mind while making your family movies, whether you are traveling to foreign lands, barbecuing at home with some friends or just visiting your favorite street food market. be.
1. Consider what you want your video to be made of
Before you begin, you should give a little thought to what you want to include in your video. It can be a full movie of everything that happens on your child’s upcoming birthday, but consider making it a little more specific. Maybe a video about all the games you play together, or the way they open their gifts.
Having a specific story to tell — even a basic one — will help you get an idea of what shots you’ll need to get, and it will help you shoot and edit only what you need. Shouldn’t have to filter through endless hours of footage. A vacation movie may be more straightforward because you’ll want to document the entire journey from start to finish. Still, try and consider how you can be selective and tell an interesting story instead of filming each dinner together.
For my videos, I made a list of shots I knew I wanted, and also created a rough storyboard to help develop my ideas for angles.
Andrew Hoyle / CNET
For my own celebration-themed video (embedded above), I decided to show off how I can make my own hot mulled cider. By placing it on a specific subject I was able to determine exactly the shots I needed and in what order, and also sketched out storyboards of shots ahead of time. You don’t need to go that far, but having a rough idea in mind will help a lot.
2. Set up your phone properly
Almost all recent smartphones can take great videos, but it’s worth checking the settings to make sure you’re ready to go. Your resolution settings are up to you, but Full HD (1080p) is probably a good starting point, as it will look nice but won’t fill up your phone’s storage too quickly. You can up this to 4K if your phone allows, or even drop it to 720p if you’re on an older device that won’t handle editing as well.
If you have the new iPhone 13 Pro and plan to do a lot of post-production on your footage in software like Adobe Premiere or DaVinci Resolve, you may want to consider shooting in Apple’s ProRes format. This allows for more control in post, but the file size is huge, so it’s better to shoot in standard video mode if you want to keep things simple. It’s worth keeping an eye on your storage, especially if you’re away from home for a while; You don’t want to fill up your space on the first two days of your trip, only with no room to occupy the rest of the vacation.
3. Keep Your Video Clips Short and Sweet
While it’s easy to stand up and film a five-minute clip of you peeling potatoes for dinner, the reality is that when you look back on it, you’ll realize that’s way too long to stay interesting. Instead, consider keeping each clip about 15-20 seconds long. You might be surprised how long a 15-second video really looks when you watch it back, and cutting together lots of shorter clips will give the video a more engaging, more professional feel.
If you’re walking down a beautiful mountain trail, consider shooting 20 seconds of footage at five- or ten-minute intervals — or just on particularly beautiful scenery — rather than filming it entirely. But make sure you are prepared to capture interesting or funny moments as these are personal moments that you will enjoy watching back in line.
Don’t overshoot — I only needed five seconds of this overhead shot in the finished video, so shooting a minute or more of footage would have been pointless and time-consuming.
Andrew Hoyle / CNET
4. Stabilize Your Phone
There is nothing that can ruin a video so easily as shaky hand-held footage. If your phone has a still video mode, make sure it is turned on. If not, consider using a small tripod to steady your phone. This of course allows you, the filmmaker, to get in on the action too, which is great if you’re a foodie or a gift giver.
You might also consider carrying a small mobile gimbal like the DJI OM5. This allows you to get rock-steady footage even on the go, while the built-in selfie stick lets you film yourself more easily or capture more interesting angles. For your footage if you were holding your phone with just your hand.
5. Get Creative With Angles
A great way to improve the cinematic qualities in your film is to experiment with different angles. Let’s say you’re capturing the moment your child picks up presents from under the tree at Christmas — not only film them from their standing position around you, but consider how you can capture that moment. How to capture in a more exciting way. Perhaps put the phone between the gifts, inside the tree, so you can watch your child reach for the camera to retrieve their gift.
There’s no end to the ways you can play with your angles, so think about how you can shake things up. You can always try to re-shoot some things from multiple angles (or set up a spare phone or camera for another angle) and then cut them together in your video editor later. In my video, for example, I wanted to show cinnamon and ginger being thrown into the pot, so I used two angles: one looking into the pot from the first person’s perspective, and the other where I held my phone back. Utensils to show me the ingredients being thrown. It’s small elements like these that can make a big difference in the overall look.
I used a tripod to get this overhead shot, and a small LED light to illuminate the cider in the pan. It’s not a pretty setup – the lighting is just balanced on a roll of paper towels!
Andrew Hoyle / CNET
6. Improve Audio
If your video will consist of people talking to the camera — perhaps your friends telling the camera where in the world you are or how badly they need a beer after a long hike — you can Would like to make sure your phone captures that audio clearly. For best results, consider purchasing a small external microphone like the Rode VideoMicro, which plugs into your phone’s headphone jack (or power port via an adapter) and will improve sound quality dramatically.
If you don’t want to invest in extra gear there is still a lot you can do to help. Turning down or at least turning down background music or closing doors to drown out kitchen appliances will make a huge difference in how clear those voices are. Outside, your worst enemy for good audio will be the wind. There’s not always much you can do about it, but at least trying to turn your back to the wind and provide a buffer between it and your phone will help narrow down the problem.
7. Experiment with Slow Motion and Time Lapse
Most recent phones have modes for taking slow motion videos and time lapse, and both can be great tools for your videos. Of course, it needs to be understood in order to use them – slow motion to slow down a fast-paced action, and the time spent to speed up a longer sequence.
In my mulled cider video, I used slow motion while lighting the stove to give the flames a cinematic quality, and I shot footage of ginger tossing into a pot to get a very slow-mo effect on cider splashing. slowed down too. UP. Since this is a short sequence, there was no point in time lapse, but if you want to capture the whole process of dinner, for example, a time lapse from above in your kitchen, then Making video of you walking around maybe a few hours would be a neat addition to the holiday movie.
I set a stage for the final shot: some festive orange pine cone decorations in front of my Christmas tree. A little extra effort like this in the filming phase makes a huge difference in the finished video.
Andrew Hoyle / CNET
8. Edit Your Video
Once you have your video clips it’s time to piece them together. This can be the most challenging part, especially for those of you who are completely new to video production. Thankfully, there are easier ways to do things.
Some phones, such as the iPhone, as well as recent Samsung Galaxy phones, have built-in auto video creators that allow you to select certain clips and automatically cut them into a movie, which is used for background music and transitions between clips. completes together. They’re not always the prettiest of presentations, but they’re worth keeping in mind if you’re a total beginner.
Alternatively, look into an app like Quick by GoPro. It’s free and also lets you drop multiple video clips into a project so that the app automatically turns into a finished movie. iPhone users will also be able to use Apple’s iMovie for free, an extremely easy-to-use video editor with a wide variety of presets and styles available. Adobe Premiere Rush has a wide variety of editing tools and is designed to be mobile-friendly. It’s a great app, but it costs $10 (£9, AU$15) a month, so it’s only worth considering if you think you’re looking to produce more videos.