Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Creating a beautiful brief movie at home might be an important factor to ship to these members of the family you are lacking this yr, who would little doubt love to really feel related with the great occasions they’re lacking out on. And the good factor is that with superior cameras and even nice editing software program constructed proper into your phone, it is by no means been simpler to shoot a pleasant video to share with family members, whether or not you’ve got acquired the brand-new iPhone 12 Pro Max ($1,099 at Amazon), the Galaxy S21 Ultra or an older-generation Android phone.

Here, then, are my prime tips it is best to remember when making your personal video at home this yr.

Consider what you need your video to be 

Before you begin, it is best to give a little bit of thought to what you need your video to embrace. It may simply be a full movie of the whole lot that occurs over your kid’s upcoming lockdown birthday however contemplate making it a bit extra particular. Perhaps a video all concerning the video games you play collectively, or them opening their presents. 

Having a selected story to inform — even a primary one — will enable you contemplate what photographs you may want to get, and it’s going to enable you shoot and edit solely what you want, slightly than having countless hours of footage to sift via. 


For my video, I made an inventory of photographs I knew I wanted, and additionally made a tough storyboard to assist develop my concepts for angles.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

For my very own festive video (embedded above), I made a decision to present how I make my very own sizzling mulled cider. By preserving it to a selected subject I used to be in a position to decide precisely the photographs I wanted and in what order, and even sketched out a storyboard of photographs forward of time. You do not have to go that far, however having a tough thought in thoughts will assist an important deal.

Set your phone up correctly 

Almost all latest smartphones can take nice video, but it surely’s price trying out the settings to make certain you are prepared to go. Your decision settings are up to you, however full HD (1080p) might be an excellent place to begin, because it’ll look good however will not replenish your phone’s storage too shortly. You can ramp it up to 4K if your phone permits, and even drop it to 720p in the event you’re on an older machine that will not deal with editing as nicely.

Keep your video clips brief and candy

While it is easy to stand and movie a five-minute clip of somebody peeling potatoes for dinner, the truth is that once you watch that again, you may notice it is method too lengthy to stay fascinating. Instead, contemplate preserving every clip to round 15-20 seconds in size. You is perhaps shocked at how lengthy 15 seconds of video really looks like once you watch it again, and having numerous shorter clips reduce collectively will give the video a extra participating, extra skilled really feel.


Don’t overshoot — I solely wanted about 5 seconds of this overhead shot within the completed video, so capturing a minute or extra of footage would have been pointless and time-consuming.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Stabilize your phone

There’s nothing that may wreck a video fairly as simply as shaky hand-held footage. If your phone has a stabilized video mode, make certain it is turned on. If not, think about using a small tripod to preserve your phone regular. This in fact additionally permits you, the filmmaker, to be concerned within the motion as nicely, which is nice in the event you’re the one doing the cooking, or handing out presents. 

Get inventive with angles

A good way to enhance the cinematic qualities in your movie is to experiment with totally different angles. Say you are capturing the second your youngster takes a gift from underneath the tree at Christmas — do not simply movie them from your standing place close by, however as an alternative contemplate how one can seize that second in a extra thrilling method. Perhaps even put the phone contained in the tree, among the many presents, so that you see your youngster reaching towards the digital camera to retrieve their reward.

There’s no finish to the methods you’ll be able to play with your angles, so have a take into consideration how one can shake issues up. You can at all times strive to reshoot sure issues from a number of angles (or arrange a spare phone or digital camera for one other angle) and then reduce them collectively in your video editor afterwards. In my video, for instance, I needed to present the cinnamon and ginger being thrown into the pot, so I used two angles: one from a first-person perspective trying into the pot, and one other the place I’d positioned my phone behind the pot to present me throwing the elements in. It’s little parts like this that may make an enormous distinction total.


I used a tripod to get this overhead shot, and used a small LED mild to brighten up the cider within the pan. It’s not a sublime setup — the sunshine is simply balanced on a roll of paper towel!

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Improve the audio

If your video will embrace individuals speaking to the digital camera — maybe your youngster thanking Grandma for the current — you may need to make certain your phone can seize that audio clearly. For the perfect outcomes, contemplate shopping for a small exterior microphone just like the Rode VideoMicro, which plugs into your phone’s headphone jack (or the ability port, by way of an adapter) and will dramatically enhance the sound high quality.

If you don’t need to spend money on additional gear there’s nonetheless lots you are able to do to assist. Turning off or a minimum of decreasing background music or closing the doorways to drown out kitchen home equipment will make an enormous distinction in how clear these voices could be captured.

Experiment with sluggish movement and time lapses

Most latest telephones have modes for taking sluggish movement video and for time lapses and each could be nice instruments for your video. Of course, it wants to make sense to use them — sluggish movement to decelerate fast-paced motion, and time lapse to pace up an extended sequence.

In my mulled cider video, I used sluggish movement when lighting the range to give a cinematic high quality to the flames erupting, and I additionally slowed down the footage of me throwing ginger into the pot to get an important slow-mo impact on the cider splashing up. As it is a brief sequence it did not make numerous sense to do a time lapse, however if you need to seize the entire course of of creating dinner, for instance, a time lapse from excessive up in your kitchen, videoing you shifting round over possibly a few hours could be a neat addition to a vacation movie.


I arrange a stage for the ultimate shot: some festive orange pine cone decorations in entrance of my Christmas tree. A bit additional effort like this on the filming stage makes an enormous distinction within the completed video.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Edit your video

Once you’ve got your video clips it is time to piece them collectively. This could be essentially the most difficult half, particularly for these of you who’re completely new to video manufacturing. Thankfully, there are simple methods of doing issues. 

Some telephones, just like the (*8*)iPhones ($599 at Apple), in addition to latest Samsung Galaxy telephones, have built-in auto video makers that permit you to choose some clips and robotically reduce them collectively into a movie, full with background music and transitions between clips. They’re not at all times essentially the most elegant of productions, however they’re price preserving in thoughts in the event you’re a complete newbie. 

Alternatively, look in direction of apps like Quik by GoPro. It’s free and additionally helps you to drop a number of video clips right into a challenge for the app to robotically flip right into a completed movie. iPhone customers may also have the option to use Apple’s iMovie for free, which is an especially easy-to-use video editor, with a wide range of presets and types out there. Adobe Premiere Rush has all kinds of editing instruments and is constructed to be cell pleasant. It’s an important app, but it surely does value $10 (£9, AU$15) a month, so it is solely price contemplating in the event you assume you may need to do extra video manufacturing.

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