10 Simple Tips to Make Home Videos Look Professional
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If you shoot a lot of videos but are rarely happy with the results, you aren’t alone. Most people would love to know how to make better videos.

Fortunately, it’s not that difficult. Whether you’re recording something to publish online or simply to capture memories to keep and share, these simple tips will help you make better videos.

Read on to discover how to make your home videos look more professional.

1. Always Use the Back Camera

This may seem like an obvious rule, but it’s easy to forget. The rear camera on a phone is better quality, has a higher resolution, and offers more features within the app. It will almost always give you better results.

Do you need some tips for recording yourself? Okay, in many cases we’d still recommend using the rear camera, with your phone propped up on a desk or wall. If you prefer the handheld approach then you can use the front camera, but feel free to rotate the phone so you shoot in landscape mode.

video recording yourself tips

If you’re speaking directly into camera make sure you look into the lens, not at the screen. Otherwise your video will make it seem like you’re looking over your viewer’s shoulder.

2. Stability and Focus

There are two big requirements for making a great video: holding the camera still, and keeping it in focus.

Many phones, cameras, and camcorders have built-in image stabilization. This helps keep your video steady, but you need to know its limitations. IS works better when you’re holding the camera still to begin with—shooting while walking can easily result in unwanted camera shake.

If you want to shoot smoothly while moving, see our guide to the best iPhone gimbals The 5 Best Gimbals for the iPhone The 5 Best Gimbals for the iPhone If you're after the best gimbal for iPhone, we can help. Here are the top gimbals for mobile videography available today. Read More to find your ideal device.

Without IS, hold your device with both hands when recording video. Use a tripod or makeshift alternative to keep your camera still—even a bag of rice can serve as a great DIY stabilization device.

3. Record in Landscape Mode

The simple first step to learning how to make professional videos is to remember to shoot in landscape mode—turn your phone on its side.

shoot video in landscape

Vertical, or portrait, videos are fine if you’re only ever going to look at them on your phone. The moment you try to watch it on a TV, laptop, tablet, or almost any other device its ill-fitting orientation will jump out as a surefire sign of amateur hour.

And besides, you can fit more into the frame in landscape mode. This means less need to constantly pan left and right, which in turn leads to a classier looking finished product.

4. Add a Grid

The only thing worse than watching a video recorded in portrait mode is watching a video taken at a wonky angle. Adding a grid lets you use your background as a point of reference to ensure that your recording is always straight.

Most devices have this option, available via a setting you may need to enable within your camera app.

rule of thirds grid video

The grid helps you align your video against a line in the background to ensure you’re recording straight videos.

It aids composition, too. If you’re recording people, position their eyes in level with the top grid line.

Photo enthusiasts will know this as the Rule of Thirds, which helps you frame items within your shot better. You can read more about this in our guide to the essential photography tips for beginners.

5. Lighting

While it’s easy enough to lighten dark or underexposed photos, dark or underexposed videos bring a number of bigger problems:

  • It’s hard to brighten video without degrading the quality and introducing noise.
  • The camera finds it harder to focus in low light. It might even continually drift in and out of focus.
  • If you’re using Auto mode, as you’re likely to be when making a homemade video, the camera will reduce the frame rate when filming in poor light. This results in jerky video that you won’t be able to fix.

What’s the solution? As a general rule, try to make sure that your subject is illuminated by a bright source of light that’s ideally behind you. Use your smartphone’s flashlight only as an absolute last resort.

If you want to shoot regularly in low light you might need to upgrade your gear so you can use fast lenses and full manual controls.

6. Experiment With Angles

It’s natural to just hold up the camera and start shooting. Yet if you want to make professional videos at home you need to experiment more with the angles you use.

Instead of shooting everything at eye level from one spot, try taking a wide shot then moving closer to your subject to shoot a close-up. Then edit the two shots together. Or hold the camera over your head to capture the action from above. Or crouch down and shoot upwards.

Have some fun trying to find what works. You don’t need to make every shot completely different, but a bit of variety can work wonders.

7. Zoom With Your Feet

When you want to get a close up view of something, it’s tempting to reach for your camera’s zoom button. But this can come with problems. Most smartphones only offer digital zoom, which can degrade the quality of your image. Plus, the further you zoom the more likely your video is to become jerky, even if you’re using image stabilization.

So what do you do if you want to get closer to your subject? Zoom with your feet. Stop filming, move closer to the subject, and start shooting once more. Simple!

8. Use Effects (But Don’t Overuse Them)

Video effects are the equivalent of photo filters. They look great when they’re used properly, but you can easily overdo it. Still, most cameras and smartphones offer a few options that can add some pizzazz to your videos.

Timelapse

iPhones have a great timelapse feature built into the default Camera app, but apps like Lapse It let you emulate this effect on Android. Try using it at a time where you can use all (or most) of the above rules.

Timelapses work brilliantly if you can steadily position your camera for a prolonged time over an area that’s constantly changing—for example, on the top of a bridge to capture a sunset or star trails.

Slow Motion

Slow motion can add drama to a video, or expose detail that’s normally lost in fast moving action. Keep it short, though. Video normally plays back at 30 frames per second, so a clip shot at 120fps will last four times longer than the real world speed.

Cinemagraph

Cinemagraphs are a like a cross between a video and a photo—most of the image is still, apart from one or two choice parts that are moving.

A lot of smartphone camera apps offer this feature, or you can download an app like Cinemagraph Pro on iOS or VIMAGE on Android to try it out for yourself. The effect can be very impressive.

9. Learn Basic Video Editing

Serious video editing is beyond the scope of this article, but a little basic editing can help make your videos look more professional.

We have guides to the best free video editing apps for Windows The Best Free Video Editors for Windows The Best Free Video Editors for Windows Everyone takes videos these days. Yet powerful free video editors remain rare. We present the absolute best free video editors available for Windows. Read More , the best video editors for Android The 10 Best Video Editors for Android The 10 Best Video Editors for Android Looking for the best video editor for Android? Here are the best video editing apps for Android users. Read More , and the best iOS apps to edit videos The 6 Best Free Video Editing Apps for iPhone and iPad The 6 Best Free Video Editing Apps for iPhone and iPad Looking to make some memories from media on your iPhone or iPad? Here are the best free video editing apps for iPhone and iPad. Read More . Apart from letting you remove unwanted parts from your video clips, these tools let you merge multiple clips and photos, add a soundtrack, video filters, and create mini-movies worth sharing.

Just trimming the start and end of a clip will often improve it massively, as will splitting a longer clip into several shorter ones and trimming the fat from those. This is especially true for something you want to share online.

Even better is to use multiple shots rather than capturing everything in one go. Keep them to around five to 10 seconds each, and stitch a few together in an editing app when you’re done.

10. Cheat With the Editing

Not everyone has the patience and skill to carefully edit multiple clips into a montage. Thankfully there are free apps that do this for you. Apps like Google Photos and GoPro’s Quik (available for Android and iOS) are superb.

google photos auto edit videos

All you need to do is select the media files you want, select one of the free background tracks, and add a theme. Both apps then stitch your videos together to create a montage, saving you valuable time and making you look like a pro in the process.

How to Make Better Videos

It isn’t hard to make professional looking videos at home. None of these tips require any great technical ability, and with a little practice you’ll be shooting awesome videos in no time at all.

So where do you go next? Well, first, remember that sound is an equally important part of the process, so check out these tips to help you record better audio.

Then take a look at the most popular types of YouTube videos 10 Most Popular YouTube Videos You Can Make Today 10 Most Popular YouTube Videos You Can Make Today If you want to start a YouTube channel today, these are the most popular types of video you can make. Read More to help get your creative juices flowing.

Explore more about: Record Video, Video, Video Editing.

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  1. Tim Yaotome
    November 8, 2018 at 2:46 am

    My professor asked us to do a short commercial for our Science class and your article definitely helped me figure out how to use my phone to record it. One question: if I were to do this commercial for an actual business, would asking for professional help make it look better? Can hiring a professional also help with making amateur videos for school also? https://filmsupport.com/menu/

  2. Video Post Production
    March 29, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    Hey there!

    I thought it was an excellent article you shared; video post production tools are always changing and we must know how to keep pace with development and get to know all the tools that will help us this year to achieve our goals.

    We at https://videopostproduction.ca/ are trying to use the best tools, in order to be able to offer the best services, so this article helped us a lot.

    Anyway, I hope to keep reading your blog, thanks for putting together your content list. And have a good day!

  3. Morgan43
    August 28, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    Nice share. I use PhotoViewerPro as an alternative for easy photo editing.

  4. Akira
    September 24, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    These tips really help me out when I was filming viral videos for my project. Since it makes my works look so professional, even though I just film some extra shots.

  5. Akira
    September 24, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    These tips really help me out when I was filming viral videos, it makes my work look so professional. Even though I just shoot some extra shots.

  6. Naveen
    August 10, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    Hi Bakari, useful information. I was planning for a short video play.. Naveen

  7. Paul Verizzo
    November 26, 2015 at 3:38 am

    I've been shooting 8mm, analog and digital since 1987, and recently 3CCD miniDV . Thought I'd look for some tips online, and I gotta say, you have nailed them. That I didn't learn anything speaks well of what you wrote!

    I would like to offer two thoughts under the "Use a tripod," heading. Most people have never heard of a monopod, yet it offers the stability of a tripod with a much easier to use, more flexible, stabilizer.

    Second, use a "handy cam" or some variant thereof. Lots of homebrew versions out there. Basic premise is that inertia is your friend.

    I would also suggest a Wide Angle lens adapter. The Sony cameras I'm familiar with, at the most wide angle, are at about 35mm focal length if they were 35 mm cameras. Barely qualifying as WA, and sometimes worthless in interior shots. One really needs to get to a 28mm focal length to be effective. Or, 35mm equivalent X a .7 WA adapter, and you are at 24.5 mm equivalent. Thousands of times more useful in the real world than 400X or whatever digital zoom.

    Guess I'm unleashed now. The iconic "Citizen Kane," and "Hotel Berlin" used a circular pan which anyone can do. Ground breaking back then. You do need to be aware of obstructions in your peripheral vision, and it's good to have a Handy Cam or other image stabilization on. The basic idea is that you just move in a circle around the point of interest.

    Anyway, great advice, hope I've been helpful.

  8. Anonymous
    October 25, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    it was very usefull thanks a lot!

    • Anonymous
      October 27, 2015 at 1:32 am

      hi it did sooo ............................................... not HELPED

  9. Duke Net
    May 31, 2015 at 8:39 am

    Great advice thank you so much.

  10. Anthony
    May 18, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    I'm 6 years late,just now read this and it was great editing information

    • Bakari Chavanu
      May 19, 2015 at 6:57 pm

      Thanks, Anthony, for your feedback. Yep, though the technology has changed, the basics of video shooting are still pretty much the same.

  11. Dlatinsmile
    December 17, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    You helped me. Thank you for sharing your info. Nice of you to explain it so clearly. Way to go.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      May 19, 2015 at 6:55 pm

      Thanks, Dlatinsmile, it's great to know that this article is still useful after so many years.

  12. Bakari Chavanu
    December 15, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Sheel: “embed text or or hotlinks (same as youtube) in videos.”

    Mmm not sure about that one. I'll search around and see if what I find. If you find something, please let us know.

    Charles, good idea. I've had a Canon GL2 for years and use to shoot events off and on. I've clearly made a significant profit in using the camera. I'm just not sure though about stepping up HD yet. Thanks for adding me to your favorites.

  13. Sheel
    December 15, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Very informative article. Do you know by which application I can embed text or or hotlinks (same as youtube) in videos.

  14. Charles Rinehart
    December 14, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Excellent blog with great tips. I will be getting a camcorder this week, and will be doing videos to put on YouTube to promote my Florida travel blogs. Then after I'm better with shooting, editing, etc., I want to start doing videos for websites. I think this will be a great opportunity to make some real money with a service people need. Thanks again for all the advice. I'm adding you to my favorites. All the best.

  15. mgingerhack
    December 13, 2009 at 11:56 am

    This is really a nice information..specially about planning..
    i never thought about that