Disclaimer: Im not crazy, it’s just that when I experience something fun and captivating -particularly within a group- I have the tendency to want to film it if I'm inspired to do so. It didn’t take me long to resort to using my camera phone:( The professional in me was so critical and had me thinking, “it’s not going to be clear! We’re not team samsung galaxy so don’t record if you’re not going to get great quality footage.” BUT it’s Kawanzaa and this dance (bantaba) is off the chain so, iPhone 4 in hand, I click “record.” Scroll past the video for some important tips on shooting with your camera phone. Alas, here’s what I captured and you’ll get plenty of HD in the movement of the women, the force of the men and the beat of the drums! Axe Axe Axe!
If you’re ever in a situation where you have to use your camera phone to capture an event here are a few tips for the best results:
Focus: Hold the camera steady. Either sit it on something or try not to move while recording. If you’re victim of DWF aka "dancing while filming", your footage is going to come out blurry, shaky and doesn’t make for a good watch.
Hold the camera phone horizontal: Before you press the record button, turn the camera sideways so that when you do press record, it captures the way you’d see it on tv. Normally people want to see the full landscape of what you’re shooting and recording it vertically will leave the sides black when you upload and play it back. Once you press record vertically and then turn it horizontally- well, your image is going to turn sideways and you don’t want that. Hold it horizontally to begin with, then press record.
Good light: Make sure the light is behind you- the one holding the camera- so that whatever you’re shooting appears brighter. In the video at timecode 2:56, you can see how I moved from the back of the person dancing to the front at 3:06 so that their face and movement can be seen in the light.
Film in short increment: Attention spans can run short so shoot various shots of good actions and happenings around you within 30sec increments.
Shoot reaction shots: Most often you see the subject but not the crowd. Shoot the crowd, people faces and objects for some good cut-away shots that will help break the monotony while watching the video. I used a cut-away shot of my friend Erica at timecode 2:12. She has a cute smile :)
Don’t cut off heads: In other words, make sure a person’s head in completely in the camera frame. By the same token, don’t shoot with too much space between the top of your subject and the frame.
Make it pretty: In editing, put the video on top of a nice background, nothing distracting. Just something to make it interesting like a theme or a solid color. In this case, I used various kente cloth designs.
Film to teach: Truth be told, I didn’t know all the principles of Kwanzaa till I decided to do this video so that’s why I added the seven principles text at the bottom of the page so that every time the video is played, we all remember what are Kwanzaa’s seven principles.
In conclusion, dont let not having a fancy, flashy professional HD camera stop you from filming and creating something worthwhile. Take my story for example and use those tips with your camera phone to capture the moment as if were a full-fledged production cause it just might be. The principles of Kwanzaa shouldn’t be only applied during the seven days following Christmas. So it is my hope that we live in the spirt of UMOJA- unity, KUJICHAGULIA- self determination, UJIMA- collaboration, UJAMAA- supporting each other, NIA- purpose, KUUMBA- creativity, and IMANI- Faith, everyday.
Say you’ve shot something on your phone now what? Need help editing what you’ve captured with your camera phone? I can help. Leave your comments below about your Christmas holiday, Kwanzaa or special event experiences and shooting with your camera phone or any camera. Thanks for reading and watching!