Many clients have been asking me for some basic tips on how to shoot a product video on their smartphone.
If you are gearing up for Black Friday and the Christmas season and want to shoot product videos yourself, then here are some handy tips.
It is possible to use your smartphone to make a glossy product video and many small business owners are making their own content fast with my insider tips, so don’t be afraid to give it a go.
Create An Easy Home Studio Set-Up
If your products are small, you can check out buying a lightbox online.
These kits come with a pop-up white box, some include lights and a smartphone tripod, and they start from around £25 ($34).
They are pretty good if you are just starting out, although be prepared to iron the creases out of the background panels!
If you want to go bigger you can buy a backdrop to add texture and colour and these are really useful if you want to shoot top down videos.
You can get away with one when shooting from above, or you can use two and have one surface to sit products on and one behind.
Always buy backdrops that have a wipe clean surface, it saves tons of time. We like www.blackvelvetstyling.com they have a huge range of backdrops, they stock loads of handy sizes, and they always have a good selection on sale.
create a studio cove setup
You can also easily create a white coving style studio set up at home.
Buy a large roll of white paper as wide as you need. Clip it or stick it to a shelf and let it drop down and then curve round to sit on a desk or table. Secure in place with tape.
This gives you the infinity curve look that a professional space offers and makes sure all the focus is on your product.
If in doubt with colour choices, always go for a white background.
Always make your studio set up bigger than you think as if you want to shoot some movement or have a line of products you don’t want your shots to be limited.
Keep this simple when you are starting out.
You can try and use natural light and schedule shooting in the day by a large window. There is a trend today for using the elements outside depending on your product, so don’t be afraid of experimenting.
Not every product looks it’s best indoors.
Big bold lights can make product videos look hard and flat, so if you want to use lighting, make sure you use soft light.
You don’t need to buy expensive filters, just get a bit of plain photocopy paper and stick it over your light if you think it is too harsh for product shooting.
Avoid shadows by not standing in front of the light source. Point your light at the back of your studio set, not directly onto your product.
Shoot with a Blurred Background
If you want to do a product shoot but don’t want a studio look then you can shoot your product in a less than perfect setting by shooting with a blurred background. This is also called the bokeh effect on a smartphone device.
You have probably used it to create great stills if you shoot with your smartphone in portrait mode.
The Focos Live app for iphones is tried and tested by my team and is really popular right now. It costs £12 ($17).
You do have to record your video through the Focos app and right now, it won’t let you add a bokeh effect to your wide angle lens.
The Samsung Live focus video button allows you to blur out your background in real time and Samsung have added a live focus button to their Galaxy S21 series, S20, S20+ S20 Ultra and Z Flip models.
Shoot a Top Down Video
There’s a reason we all like over headshots. They eliminate the depth of field in your video, and it makes your product seriously pop on screen.
You can fit tons into one shot, and these are not hard to do when you know how!
The key is to use the right bit of equipment to hold your phone steady to shoot your overhead video.
Here is a link to our current budget favourite if you are just starting out.
Once you have your smartphone secure you can shoot from above safely making it easy to experiment and have fun.
Movement adds huge value to product shoots so do add some great camera moves left to right.
You can use a gimbal for these if you have one as their stabilisation delivers foolproof shots but you don’t have to own one to shoot some decent moves.
Think about putting your products on a turntable or rotating display stand.
These work really well and you can pick them up from around £20 ($27).
They are usually battery operated, come with a variety of speeds and mirror topped ones can really come in handy.
A really popular choice with many clients starting out is something called a dolly slider. They look like a small roller skate that you sit your smartphone on.
Take a look at these two below for inspiration:
When you are adding in movement to shots remember going forward into your product shot can be a good way to start your video.
Using movement to pull back from your product is a good way to end.
Try Out a Macro Lens
You can get great close-ups on your products if you add on a macro lens. There is a massive choice of inexpensive clip on lenses for every smartphone, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to give this a go.
Macro lenses work best with lots of light, so help them out with shooting in the right place.
If you are going to get a ton of use out of this lens type, then you check out www.shopmoment.com. They sell a great macro lens and case for most smartphones.
They are great, but an investment for when you are SURE you are really going to use it.
Think about adding variety. If you have more than one product, line them up and shoot down the row. Pan across a line left to right. Do whatever you can to mix up movement and shot sizes.
Always shoot individual products in the centre of shot. Camera left and camera right so that you can easily resize for social media and add text.
Think about using props for your product video. These can make a big difference to the production value.
Props are also really useful for your audience to get a sense of proportion.
Popular things to have on hand for a variety of product shoots are:
- Lemons or zesty fresh fruits
- Coffee beans
- Flowers and Cacti
- Cinnamon Sticks
Before you start your product shoot, make sure you have the following to hand:
- A printed out shot list – saves tons of time!
- Spare batteries for a turntable
- A microfibre cloth as dust, fingerprints and smudges show up on product shoots
- Two lots of props if they are fruit or flowers – they’ll wilt under strong lights!
If you have a spare or old phone, set it up and let it run and record a timelapse of your shoot for another bit of content.
Do send us your product videos if you want any help with your final cut. We are always on hand for advice.
HAPPY SHOOTING EVERYONE!