Tips for video with mobile phones

So you’re thinking of submitting videos for stock, or have already been doing so but would like a few pointers? The good news is that you don’t need an expensive digital SLR or dedicated video camera. These days, even a good mobile phone will record up to 4K video and allow you to shoot some stunning video footage. As a video reviewer, I’d like to share a few tips which will help you in terms of having your videos accepted rather than refused.

One of the most common refusal reasons I find myself using is ‘Empty black frames’ – which means that during editing, the video frame timing has been changed (often inadvertently!) and no longer matches the length of the clip...this means there will be empty black frames, usually at the end of your clip, which need to be trimmed, although if you are splicing several clips, or trimming already edited clips, it can happen at the beginning of the video too. I have seen this happen in Adobe Premiere Elements, the cheaper version of Premiere, but it’s very easy to trim the clip in the timeline with such software.

Another very common refusal is ‘Bad audio’. This usually applies to videos that contain strong wind sounds in landscape or outdoor clips, or it may be that there are human voices in the background which are irrelevant to the video itself – if this is the case, it is always best to edit your file to remove the audio entirely, and then submit it for review. Even the voices are relevant, but no humans are visible, you still need to attach a model release because each person’s voice is recognizable.

‘Camera shake’ is also not uncommon and you will receive this refusal if there is too much movement in your clip due to an unsteady hand – always use a tripod if possible, or steady your camera as best you can whilst filming. Many mobile phones today do include image stabilisation, which is often very good, so if you are shooting video with your mobile, always make sure this is enabled to help reduce camera shake.

The last most common refusal reason is letterboxing, and pillar boxing. This means that black lines will appear either top and bottom of your clip (letterboxing) or on the left and right sides of your clip (pillar boxing.) This usually happens when you import the file onto your computer and change the dimensions, so they are no longer the original dimensions.

As with images, it’s always a good idea to look for different angles, just to make your clip a little more interesting. Good lighting is essential, otherwise your subject matter will wind up being blurry, and you will likely wind up with a lot of digital noise in your video as well.

It’s wise to plan your video shoot in advance, but it’s not always a necessity. You may be on holiday or travelling somewhere and find something interest to shoot – and lets face it, most of us never go anywhere without our phones in this day and age, so it’s the camera you will always have with you.

Dreamstime videos should be 5-60 seconds in length, and they don’t need to be a huge file size to be excellent quality. With software, you can easily reduce a 1GB file to half that size, which will allow you to upload it more speedily.

Adding filters to your videos is fine as long as they are not too extreme – remember that a designer can always add a filter themselves once they have purchased the use of the video.

Enjoy your video shooting, and we look forward to your submissions to Dreamstime!

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October 16, 2017


nice tips... thanks for sharing.

October 16, 2017


Useful to know! Thank you!

October 14, 2017


Very interesting your article. Thank you!

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Photo credits: Denis Moskvinov, Sabelskaya, Scanrail.