JCU Digital Media Lab

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Here you will find a quick tutorial for anybody who’s trying to get the best quality possible out of their android phones when shooting a video.

Let’s start witht he basics: how does the camera work on an Android phone? Watch this video to get an overview. I used a Huawei P7 (Android 5.1.1) as an example.

 

Unfortunately, the settings that you can adjust on this kind of phone are not that many, leaving out important ones as:
– the frame rate
– the shutter speed
– the ISO
– the aperture
– the white balance
Nothing to worry about though, a free app called Open Camera is one of the best tools to customise your camera settings easily; it doesn’t even take much memory space (2 MB). Although the application does not allow you to edit the aperture directly, you can still change the exposure in a variety of ways. For the other features, check this video out.

 

 

So, to recap, Open Camera offers the possibility to edit:
– the ISO
– the speed of your recording
– the exposure
– the white balance
– the frame rate
– the video bitrate

To get the best video quality out of your Android smartphone, it is also advisable to get some additional gear.
Although on the internet you will find a huge variety of products such as external lights, extra lenses, phone holders, tripods and microphones, the fundamental tools that will raise the quality of your videos are the last two. For only 2€, you can find a tripod that can help you stabilise the position of your phone, in order to get steady framing. Now the question is, what about the audio? It is always advisable to buy a microphone – a lavalier/lapel mic, that you can use to enhance your audio recording. With their small dimensions, they can be applied discretely and will provide a clearer audio to your project.

And now, some tips and tricks:
– Even if your phone provides it, try not to use the digital zoom. It might severely lower the quality of your video, as your phone will use only a fraction of your sensor, producing a less accurate shoot.
Clean the lens. It might sound obvious, but one of the first things to bear in mind when shooting videos or taking pictures is that a dirty lens will produce a worse shoot.
If you can, shoot horizontally. Although on some social media like Facebook or Twitter it might be better to shoot a vertical video, if you plan on showing your project on a variety of platforms it is always advisable to place your framing in a “landscape position”, in order to get a wide angle that can make your recording look more professional.
– Although it is always best to use an external microphone, don’t cover your phone mic with your finger. Find where the integrated mic is on your device and make sure that you don’t cover it with your hands.
Watch out for high contrast areas. Unless you purposefully desire a high-contrast look for your video, try to even out the colors as much as possible, in order to get a better color balance and a more aesthetically pleasing video.
Charge your phone battery and clean up your disk memory. Before shooting, make sure that your phone is charged and ready to go, and also check that if it can contain the files that you’re about to create, in order to shoot smoothly.
Be fluid with movements and check your camera angle. Being a smaller device than a professional camera, handling a phone may require a bit of time to get used to in terms of camera movement; make sure that you keep an eye on your video’s framing and that your gestures are slow and smooth, and your video quality will improve considerably.

And lastly, when your video is done, how do you edit or export it on a computer for post?
If you have a MAC, you can download for free an app called AirMore . To transfer your files go on the website Web.Airmore.Com and connect your phone to your computer via QR code. Problem solved! If you have a PC, a USB cable will suffice. Once you connect the android to your computer select “files” in the options that pop up, and you’re done.

Do you prefer to edit your videos right on your phone?
One of the best apps for video editing on android is PowerDirector. It has very much improved during the years, and it is one of the most comprehensive video editor apps on Google Play Store. It includes quick editing tools, effects, slow motion support and a collage maker. It employs a timeline-based interface and it’s free! However, to get extra-features, you will have to purchase some elements in-app.

Course Curriculum

Getting the most out of your Android phone Details 00:00:00
Getting the most out of your Android Phone Quiz 00:00:00

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