Video Tips

Brand Camp Day 1: Keep Learning

Moira West


We hope you enjoyed Day 1 of Brand Camp, featuring pro photographer Vanessa Joy. If you haven’t seen the whole video yet, check out it out on our Brand Camp page.

Brand Camp Day 1 with Vanessa Joy

Meanwhile, to keep the learning going, we’ve put together a breakdown of all the great tips that Vanessa shared, so you can create your own videos that demand attention. We’ve also included links to some of the products she mentioned, along with bonus content for those of you who want to dive in deeper.

To jump to a specific section in our Brand Camp bonus materials, just click on the following links:

Choosing a camera for shooting video

Vanessa covered ways to shoot beautiful video using just about any type of camera. Find out what you need to know to shoot with a smartphone, compact camera, or DSLR.

Why shoot video with a smartphone

A phone is a smart choice whether you’re starting out or have lots of experience. It’s portable and lets you shoot footage on the fly, and many recent phone models have advanced cameras. Whichever smartphone you use, check out our video shooting tips further down the page to find out how to make your shots look their best.

When to use a compact camera for video

If you’re ready to step up your video and photography equipment, you might want to invest in a compact camera. You’ll get a bit more control and more professional shots, but the camera itself is still fairly light and very portable. It’s easy to move around and lets you shoot horizontally or vertically.

Compact camera recommendation: Vanessa used the Canon EOS M5 Mirrorless with an EF-M 15-45mm lens. Small and easy to transport, this camera lets you quickly take clear, high-definition images on the go.

LEARN MORE: Using a compact action camera, like a GoPro? Check out our post on making sure your shots look their best.

Choosing a DSLR camera for video

If you want more control when you’re shooting or to create a more cinematic effect, you may be ready for a DSLR camera. Though DSLRs are often used by professional photographers, there are several reasonably priced models that are good choices for almost anyone.

DSLR camera recommendation: The Canon 5D MKIV is one of Vanessa’s favorites. In addition to taking beautiful photos, even in lower light, it also lets you shoot high-quality, high-definition video.

Lens recommendation: While shooting, Vanessa used a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II telephoto lens. This lens is quiet and has great image stabilization, making it a good choice for video.

LEARN MORE: Not sure how to use a DSLR? Check out our series on shooting with a DSLR camera to learn the basics.

Tips for shooting video

Now that you’ve got your camera, here are Vanessa’s pro tips for shooting video, along with advice for getting better lighting, audio, and stability in your shots.

Shooting video on your smartphone

Your mobile device is always with you, ready to go when you need it. And it’s also probably got a pretty great camera! Take a look at how to set up your phone to make those shots even better.

  • Set your resolution. Go into your phone’s camera settings to make sure it’s shooting at a high resolution. Choose 1080p resolution—it may also be listed as 1920x1080 depending on your phone.

Set video resolution on your smartphone

  • Decide on the shape of your video. Many phone cameras give you a few aspect ratio options.
    • Landscape: Hold your camera sideways horizontal images and video
    • Square: Tap “Square” at the bottom on your camera screen
    • Vertical: Hold your camera upright to get vertical video

LEARN MORE: Read up on ways to make vertical video look its best or learn how to shoot for a square video.

  • Adjust exposure: For most cameras, you can just tap your screen to see exposure controls. These let you increase or decrease how bright your footage will be. You can also hold your finger on a certain part of your shot so your camera locks on that area and makes it look its best.

LEARN MORE: Take a look at how you can adjust your exposure on your iPhone in the video below.

  • Experiment with settings. Try shooting photos of people in portrait mode. Use time lapse or slow motion features to play with the speed of your video clips and create interesting effects.

LEARN MORE: Watch a few more ways to elevate your smartphone footage. Then read up on mobile apps that can make your smartphone photos and video clips look even better.

Choosing a microphone

When you want to have a person talking on camera, you have a few options for recording sound.

In-camera microphone

This is the microphone right in your smartphone or camera. If you’re using your in-camera mic, you’ll want to be very close to your subject. It’ll also work best in you’re in a quiet room so that background noise won’t interfere with your audio.

External microphone

This type of microphone is sometimes called a shotgun mic. The audio will be better quality, but you still need your subject to be close to the camera. External microphones come in a few sizes, with some small enough to fit on your phone.

For the best quality sound, point the microphone in the direction of the person speaking and add a windshield, also called a dead cat, to muffle background noise.

External or shotgun microphone

External microphone recommendation: Vanessa mounted a Rode VideoMicro Compact On-Camera Microphone on her camera while shooting. The mic itself isn’t too pricey and comes with a dead cat to filter out most background noise.

Lavalier microphone

A lavalier microphone—lav mic for short—gets pinned onto your subject. That means the sound comes in loud a clear. Most modern lav mics have wireless receivers and transmitters, meaning there’s no long wire to trip over as you shoot. The down side? This type of microphone tends to cost more than the other options listed.

Lavalier microphone recommendation: If you want a mic that’s designed to pin on interview subjects, try this Rode lav mic with wireless transmitter and receiver. It’s easy setup and good sound quality make it a smart choice for beginners.

Screenshot 2019-08-05 10.28.40

LEARN MORE: Get even more audio know-how with our tips for capturing better sound for your video. Adding a voice-over to your video? Learn how to use our voice-over tool and get advice for getting a clear, consistent recording.

Lighting your video shoot

Vanessa recommended using natural light—light from a window or outdoor light—whenever possible. To find the best natural light, try using the hand trick. Hold your hand up to the light to see where it looks best.

Front lighting is flattering and reduces lines. It’s Vanessa’s recommendation for videos featuring people.

Front lighting is most flattering for shots of people

Side lighting works well for product or detail shots since it accentuates lines. Though it’s less flattering to people, you can still use it successfully. Just have your subject turn towards the light to get some of the benefits of front lighting in your side-lit shot.

Side lighting works well for product or detail shots

Backlighting—lighting from behind—works if you want to create a silhouette. However, it doesn’t flatter faces and is tricky to do if you don’t have a lot of photography experience.


Portable light recommendation: Need to add more light? There’s no need to spend a lot of money on an elaborate lighting setup. Inexpensive, compact lights, like this Ulanzi Ultra Bright LED Video Light, give you an extra lighting boost wherever you go.

LEARN MORE: Discover more ways to light you video in our post on lighting.

Steadying your shot

A shaky camera isn’t always the best look for your video. Here are a few ways to keep your footage looking rock steady.

  • Lean on a table. Use a solid surface to support your elbows while you shoot.
  • Tuck in your elbows. The closer your arms are to your body, the less your video will shake.
  • Prop up your phone. If you’re shooting with a smartphone, a simple glass or ketchup bottle can hold your phone in place while you shoot.
  • Move your whole body. For panning shots, twist your torso rather that moving your fingers or arms. It’ll give you a smoother shot overall.
  • Use your camera strap. If you have a strap on your camera, put it tight! This’ll let you produce fluid panning effects without camera shake.
  • Invest in a tripod. If you’re not planning to move your camera, a good tripod lets you keep your camera steady, no matter where you are. Try a GorillaPod by Joby if you want a tripod you can set up just about anywhere. With tripods available for smartphones, compact cameras, and DSLRs, they work for almost any situation.

Learn more: Watch a few more ways to stabilize your body when you’re shooting video.

Adding motion to your video

When it comes to shooting video clips, motion is key. A shot where the camera or the subject is moving grabs attention faster than a static shot—one without any movement. While you may need a static subject sometimes , say when you’re interviewing someone, you can add in shots with movement in between to add interest.

Vanessa covered a few ways to add movement to your shots.

  • Panning shot: Slowly move your camera up and down or from one side to the other.

Panning shot

  • Foreground shot: Include something in front of your subject as you pan to it.

Foreground shot

  • Photo burst: Use a fast-paced sequence of images to add motion to static images. Read our guide on photo bursts to learn how.

LEARN MORE: Find even more tips for capturing eye-catching footage in this post on shooting video.

Using photo bursts in your video

Vanessa reviewed a few different ways to use photo bursts to add movement to videos. Here's how her shots turned out:

Change your background

Keep the focus on one item by changing what’s behind your subject. Go into your camera settings and turn on a grid. It’ll let you keep objects in the same spot in your camera. Then photograph one object in front of a few different backgrounds. When you put the images together in a photo burst, your object will seem to stay still as the background changes.

Make a photo burst

Create stop motion

Use burst mode on your phone or its timer function to take a quick series of photos. Then put them together in a photo burst to create an eye-catching stop motion effect.

Create stop motion videos

Make a timelapse effect

Take a series of photos over time to show change. Shoot several photos from the same location at different times of day, or for a short-term effect, turn on your camera’s timer and take a photo every few seconds.

Create timelapse stop motion

LEARN MORE: Find out how to create your own DIY overhead setup, so you can create videos like the one above.

We hope you learned a lot from Day 1 of Brand Camp 2019. Visit our Brand Camp page to find all three days of video education. Then, make a video of your own, using the techniques you learn. We can’t wait to see what you’ll create!