Video Production
Insights, tips and more


Film making by phone

As a cameraman I have been brought up using professional cameras, lenses and microphones to achieve good quality video content for my clients. But increasingly we are filming not just on larger pro equipment but also with smaller hand-held devices and even smart phones. Many mobile phones today have the ability to shoot very good video and some phones now have small editing apps allowing you to cut your clips, add transitions and even put on a music track. So with this in mind I thought I would put my iPhone 14 to the test.
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Shooting a short video on my iPhone

I decided to shoot a short video to promote local artist Gina Pipet in and around her studio in East London. Everything was shot on my iPhone and we even manage to record a voice-over so that Gina could narrate her own story. Then I brought all the footage into the iMovie app on the phone and cut up the shots and added transitions (cuts) and music etc.

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Filming with a mobile phone isn’t straightforward

Firstly, holding it steady isn’t easy; so investing in a grip that mounts the phone is a good idea. Also, getting the focus correct requires some practice as the phone lenses do not work the same way as camera lenses and I sometimes had to   tell the phone (by tapping the screen) exactly what part of the shot needed to be sharp. But with some work the end results can look quite impressive. The main thing to remember when shooting with a mobile phone is that while you can get good quality video images the phone won’t create a story for you. Every good video should tell a story and that is something you will have to plan for yourself. A series of shots, however well edited, don’t create a strong narrative. My advice would be to plan your story in advance; ask yourself who is your audience and what exactly is it that you want to tell them? Then get some practice with your phone, maybe even buy yourself a phone grip, and finally decide what shots you are going to use. Editing on a mobile phone is fiddly but that is mainly because you are working with a small screen and you have to drag and drop things using your fingertips.

All in all the end result with my video was pretty good and you can see it here. Everything you see (and hear) was shot and edited on an iPhone 14. If you would like some tips on improving your video skills with a mobile phone we run bespoke half or full day courses and we even will give a few hours tuition if that is what you need. 

Getting Better Sound Quality in Mobile Phone Video Recording

Mobile phones have become indispensable tools for capturing high-quality videos. But while modern smartphones excel in delivering stunning visuals, achieving good sound quality can be a challenge. Poor audio can significantly detract from the overall impact of your videos. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to enhance sound quality when recording video on mobile phones. Here are my top tips for better sound.

Getting Better Sound Quality in Mobile Phone Video Recording Using a plug in microphone to enhance mobile phone sound quality

Choose the Right Location

The environment plays a crucial role in recording quality audio. Opt for quiet locations to minimise background noise. Avoid busy streets, crowded spaces, or areas with loud machinery. If possible, use a quiet room with minimal background noise.

Use External Microphones

Invest in external microphones to up your audio game. Mobile-compatible microphones come in various types, including clip-on lapel mics and shotgun mics. These devices can significantly improve the clarity and richness of your recordings, especially in outdoor or noisy environments. Different microphones will work with specific mobile phones so do some research on your particular phone to make sure they are compatible with each other.

Getting Better Sound Quality in Mobile Phone Video Recording a small shotgun microphone to improve audio quality

Clean the Phone's Microphone

Over time, dust and debris can accumulate around the phone’s built-in microphone, affecting its performance. Use a small, soft brush or compressed air to gently clean the microphone openings. This simple maintenance task can make a noticeable difference in audio quality. Also remember to keep your fingers away from the mic when you are recording otherwise you will get a horrible scratching noise dominating the soundtrack.

Adjust Settings and Monitor Levels

Explore your phone’s settings and third-party camera apps to optimise audio recording settings. Some apps offer manual control over audio parameters such as gain and equalisation. Experiment with these settings to find the best configuration for your specific recording needs. Keep an eye on audio levels while recording. Avoid letting the audio clip, which occurs when the input is too loud and results in distorted sound. Most recording apps display a visual representation of audio levels; adjust the input volume accordingly to prevent clipping.

Use Windshields for Outdoor Recording

Explore your phone’s settings and third-party camera apps to optimise audio recording settings. Some apps offer manual control over audio parameters such as gain and equalisation. Experiment with these settings to find the best configuration for your specific recording needs. Keep an eye on audio levels while recording. Avoid letting the audio clip, which occurs when the input is too loud and results in distorted sound. Most recording apps display a visual representation of audio levels; adjust the input volume accordingly to prevent clipping.


Enhancing sound quality in mobile phone video recordings is a combination of choosing the right equipment, optimising settings, and being mindful of the recording environment. Sound recording is sometimes seen as the poor relation to video quality but in fact the audio track will often contain much more useful content. By implementing these tips, you can raise the audio quality of your mobile videos, creating a more immersive and enjoyable viewing experience for your audience. If you want more information on improving your sound quality or just want to discuss your video content in general then please contact us here.

Polishing your Podcast

Podcasts are all the rage today and many people seem to have a favourite one that they download or stream either weekly or monthly. But putting a Podcast together; recording it and then editing it into a professional audio file can be daunting. We have recently been working with journalist and author Kate Thompson who has written a book, The Little Wartime Library, detailing the public library that was hidden inside Bethnal Green Underground station during the Blitz in World War Two. Kate came to Mediacrews as she wanted to start a series of Podcasts where she would interview both bestselling authors and inspiring wartime women as a way of bringing their unique stories to a wider audience. Firstly we gave Kate some advice on what microphones to use for her interviews as they were often recorded over the Internet on Zoom and we needed both sides of the conversation to be heard with good sound quality. Then once recorded she sent them over to us for our editing process to begin.

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Kate Thompson - The Little Wartime Library

Podcast Sound Quality

We can do all sorts of things to improve the sound quality of a Podcast including: balancing sound levels, removing ‘umms’ and ‘errs’ and also taking out pauses or gaps in the conversation. Not only that we can also add sound intros (or stings) or even add a music track throughout the Podcast. This process tightens up the final audio file and can often take minutes off the final running time. Kate said “Sourcing interviewees and talking to them was the easy part. The editing is less so! Anyone who knows me, knows I struggle to send a text so technology is not my strong point. Finding Ben and Dave was what transformed those long (often rambling) interviews into slick, edited podcast episodes. Editing is such a unique skill, what to take out is as important as what stays in. Ben sculpts my interviews into something far more defined, fresh and focussed, I also collaborate with him on themes for each episode, tone, structure, ideas and teaser videos. He’s an amazing sounding board.” To find out more about our podcast services, please click here.

Podcast editing

Podcasts can play an essential part in your social media presence. An interesting podcast can help engage your audience, provide great content and a series of podcasts can help build you a loyal following. Podcasts are relatively easy to produce, but a little editing – removing ‘umms and errs”, adding an introduction and even music can create a cohesive, professionional sounding series.

We have recently been working with author Kate Thompson on a series of podcasts titled ‘From the Library With Love’ where Kate interviews leading authors, librarians and other guests in a series of fascinating talks. Kate will host these interviews on her website – publishing a new podcast twice monthly – this is a great way to keep your website updated with fresh content. 

Attended the opening of our client Freeweaver at their new studio

Attended the opening of our client Freeweaver at their new studio in very fashionable Deptford Market Yard. Looking forward to working on more photography and video work with Janine in the coming year. 

The Japanese Textile Exhibition 1
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The Japanese Textile Exhibition

It was great to be involved with the Japanese Textile and Craft Exhibition 2022. Focusing on the artists and craftsman, we created a video that captured the essence of their craft and work. We worked closely with Erna Janine – the exhibitions curator and organiser and created content for website and social media channels.  

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Cameras for webcams

With so many of us now using webcams for calls on Zoom, Skype and Teams the issue of improving the camera image (and making ourselves look better) is becoming more important. And while some of the upcoming blogs will concentrate on other aspects of better webcams, such as  good lighting, sorting out the background, what to wear on camera etc – this blog will specifically focus on getting a better camera image.
There is no doubt that for a better webcam image you need to start with a good quality webcam, and usually this means not using the camera that is fixed to your computer but to buy yourself a HD webcam that will work at either 720 or 1080 resolution. There are many brands on the market and nearly all of them will be compatible with operating systems on both Mac and PC and will range in price from £50 upwards for a good camera. Do your research and look for impartial reviews, check the camera is compatible with your specific computer – then take the plunge. Most off-the-shelf webcams will come with a clip to allow you to move the camera around to get a more flattering angle and as a rule you want the camera to be positioned at least in-line with your eyes and possible slightly above.
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Cameras for webcams 1
Once you have invested in a new webcam and plugged it in the next thing to do is to go into your computer preferences and make sure you have the right settings enabled to get the best out of the camera. The way to do this will vary depending on your computer but always make sure the  HD function is turned on (some computers default to SD) and also make sure your computer automatically switches to your new camera and not the built in one. And finally always remember that if you use a service such as Zoom or Skype then open up the preferences for each one and double check that the video settings are set as high as possible before you join an online video call. Often online web services will automatically default to a lower-resolution than your new camera is capable of giving you unless you go into the preferences and change them manually. TIP: Currently Zoom only allows users to select HD webcam if you are a ‘Pro’ user and then it will only work with two people on the web-call. More than two and it will scale you down to SD to save on bandwidth. In time this will probably change but it is still worth investing in a HD webcam as picture quality is only going to improve in the future.
Once you have a good quality webcam up and running you will then need to look at some of the other aspects of improving your video such as arranging your background, better lighting or sound –  and we will look at these in future blogs.

Simple lighting to improve your interviews and webcams...

With so many interviews being conducted over Social Media and webcams these days we seem to be getting accustomed to very harsh and uninspiring lighting. This is the kind of lighting where people record interviews in their own home or at their office desk where the light comes from table lamps or ceiling downlights. These situations all tend to have the same thing in common; they are unflattering to the person on camera and usually ends up giving them either harsh shadows across the face or there seem to be no shadows at all and the image in very flat.  But there is something we can do about this. A technique I learnt many years ago while studying photography was the creative effect of something called two-point lighting. This is one of the simplest lighting set-ups but also one of the most effective. It is easy to create and will transform the appearance of anyone you light in this way.

Simple lighting to improve your interviews and webcams image
As the name suggest you will need two light sources: a broad soft light (see image) and a more narrow spotlight. The soft light is to light the face, giving no hard shadows and needs to be placed to one side of the camera and angled down towards your subject. The spotlight is placed high up behind the subject and should hit the top of their head and spread across the shoulders. Sometimes called the ‘hair-light’ it has the effect of both adding a highlight to your subject while also making them stand out against the background. It also adds a sense of shape and form to the subject and so avoids the opposite problem of having harsh shadows – no shadows at all. With no shadows you will get a very ‘flat’ image that tends to lack any vitality or energy.
There are of course other set ups such as three-point lighting but this will take longer to arrange and is probably best left for another blog. But if you want to instantly improve your lighting of people, whether that is yourself or someone you are filming, then consider a basic two-point lighting set-up. It makes your subject look good and will make your videos stand out from the crowd.
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