One of the keys to producing a successful video is to know where it will be viewed and on what type of screen. Will it be viewed on the big screen of a movie theater, the relatively smaller screen of a TV or computer monitor, or on the smallest of the small screens, a mobile device? The answer to this question will (or at least should) impact the filming decisions made for your video. If your video will mostly be viewed on the small screen–and we mean the VERY small screen of a mobile phone–your production choices become even more important! Here are five summary points (based on an article from Adobe) to help ensure your production work pays off in the end product:
- 1. Avoid excessive use of wide shots. The small screen of cell phones and smartphones demands that you focus in on your subject! Your viewer will get lost if you use too many wide shots. Get tight in on your subject and stay there as much as you can. If your viewer can clearly see the subject’s eyes and lips then you will know the message is being delivered.
- 2. Avoid distracting backgrounds. This goes along with point number one. While you want to avoid shots that get the viewer lost (not being able to see the subject) you also want to avoid backgrounds that have a lot of movement or engulf the subject. When shooting, separate your subject from the background by ensuring a strong color difference; blur out that background! This will contribute to viewer comprehension and really help deliver the message on devices with low resolution screens. (Yes, not every one has an Android or iPhone!)
- 3. Beware of poor lighting. Meaning, your lighting is even more important when shooting for the extra small screen! Underexposed shots will be even harder to see and overexposed shots will wash out more quickly on a cell phone. Shoot for exposure that pops your subject off the screen (while not overexposing) and backgrounds that don’t overwhelm your foreground.
- 4. Avoid pans and excessive movement. To deliver a clear message you want to take advantage of the strengths of the small screen. Pans and movement may look great on TV or in the movie theater but on a small cell phone screen they will look like mush. Lock down your shot and use slow tracking shots.
- 5. Test before you shoot. If you are planning to deliver to mobile do some testing first. Shoot some test video or grab an existing video that is similar to what you want to shoot. Encode it for mobile (we’ll talk about that in another blog post) and then watch it on an iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and a refurbished Samsung. Watch it over Wi-fi and 3G. Get an understanding of how it will look at full frames per second and at 15 frames per second.
Knowing where your video will be seen, doing some tests and then following these tips will help ensure your video content gets through to your viewer and doesn’t get lost in translation! Happy shooting!