5 tips for shooting videos on Android

While there's a constant conversation about which Android device takes the best photos, the ability to capture decent video is something most smartphones are capable of nowadays. Whether you're grabbing a sneaky video of your friend tumbling face-first down the water slide into the pool or recording your child's first steps, video is one of those things that everyone will want to do at some point.

The difference between a cool video and an amazing video usually has way more to do with the person holding the camera, and the cool thing about people is they don't require a software update. With that in mind, here's a couple of quick tips for shooting video on Android.

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No Vertical Video

Just Say No to vertical videos

There's no nice way to say this, so I'll just come out and say it: if you're holding your phone vertically while recording video, you're doing it wrong. The video you capture in portrait looks terrible to anyone watching the video, because the video doesn't fill the screen and makes enjoying the video you captured much more difficult. Any chance you have to turn your phone landscape to record video, you should absolutely do so. The resulting video will look much better, especially if you upload to services like YouTube for the world to see.

It's also worth pointing out that if you start recording a video vertically and rotate your phone to horizontal in the middle of recording, the video will not rotate with you. Instead you'll get something that is entirely unwatchable, because not only will the video be vertical but it will also be sideways.

HTC One M8 microphone

Don't cover your microphone

One of the downsides to holding your phone horizontally while recording video is the placement of your hands, as there's a good chance you're covering one of the microphones used to make whatever you are trying to record sound better. Most modern Android phones use multiple microphones, so it's not quite as big a deal if audio isn't the important part of what you are recording, but being aware of the location of your microphones and making sure your hands aren't covering these tiny recording devices will go a long way towards making your videos stand out.

This goes double for folks who have cases on their phones, as not every case manufacturer does what is necessary to make sure all of the microphones on your device are uncovered and performing as they would with the case off.

Know when to use 4K

Lots of modern Android smartphones let you crank up the video resolution to 4K, and while this is an incredibly cool way to future-proof your videos by making sure the quality stands up to the test of time there's a few things about 4K that can cause problems for you. Not only is recording 4K video incredibly expensive as far as processing power and local storage goes, but most of the first and second generation 4K-capable Android phones sacrifice things like video smoothing and stability for that higher resolution. This means 4K recording by someone with shaky hands or an attempt to capture something moving especially fast can actually wind up looking worse when recording in this higher resolution mode.

The best way to be sure your videos are going to be the best is to test out things like 4K before you go to capture something important, and be aware of the limitations found in whatever device you are recording with.

Mind your breathing

Mind your volume, and your breathing

Whether you're running after something to catch a video of it, or you're just a loud breather all the time, it's important to be aware of how the sounds you make affect the video you are recording. Shouting at someone on the other side of a Baseball field while holding a camera three feet from your face, for example, is a sure-fire way to cause everyone watching your video to cringe. It's not just shouting, in fact when you record something in a quiet place your Android camera could easily pick up on the sound of you breathing and focus on that instead of whatever you are recording.

It's not an easy problem to solve unless you are aware it is happening, and the easiest way to do that is to just pay attention to the sounds you are making and your proximity to the camera.

Video Settings

The settings menu is your friend

Every Android manufacturer does things just a little differently, and on top of that there are plenty of apps out there to take things even further with photos and videos. Being aware of what your app is capable of sets you up to record even better videos, as well as new kinds of videos that you never thought would be fun to capture. The video settings menu for your camera app is your friend, and through it you could find yourself capturing 4K videos with laser focus, slow motion videos of your friend getting thrown in the pool, or even HRD video when you're in a place with questionable lighting.

The end result is better videos for every occasion, which isn't a big deal until you pull your phone out to capture that perfect moment. Use your settings, and have fun with your video!

Cella Lao Rousseau
  • Shooting videos on Android can be fun and turn into a hobby if you know the right ricks. Once you get to learn the ropes of it, you don't need to buy an expensive camera for your videos. https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2F...
  • tell me again why you linked a watch face in an article about shooting video... Posted via the Android Central App
  • Clarification here. Covering the mic can be OK. Recently I was out when it was very windy and I hate knitted gloves on, after realizing that my finger was covering the mic I checked the video and it sounded great, no wind noise, just me talking.
  • Whats the best way to stabilize your video in post processing. I wish that iPhone only video app by the Instagram guys was available. Posted via the Android Central App on my Droid Turbo
  • Holding phone vertical is great for viewing videos on other smart phones. While holding portrait is great for viewing on computer Posted via the Android Central App
  • I watch video in landscape (horizontal) on my phone too.
  • No it's not. Every video I watch that is vertical still looks horrible on a smart phone. Vertical video has no place in this world. Posted via the Android Central App
  • +1000 our eyes are next to each other, side by side... not above and below... human eyes are made to see in landscape... end of story... there are always exceptions but 99% of pictures and videos taken in portrait should've been in landscape Posted via the Android Central App
  • What if I want to record something tall, but can't back up far enough to get it all in the frame without panning up and down? The reason people record vertically is because that's how phones fit in one hand. Have you ever tried to open a phone app and record with one hand while holding it sideways? Why do you think the old flip phones were so popular? You hold them vertically and record with one hand, but the video is still horizontal. Why can't phones have that option? It's not the people that are stupid, it the phone designers that are.
  • Preach! It should be against the law lol.
  • I'd really like a video app that lets you overlay a stopwatch. Even better would be a stopwatch that could be running and then stop and start recording at any time with the stopwatch still running. Can't find anything like it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Great advice about shooting videos many wouldn't think about especially picking up appropriate sound. And the advance knowledge of the 'potential' limitations of 4K should be experienced before a critical shoot.
  • Just say NO, to vertical videos.
  • Exactly what I thought the moment I saw this article title. Posted via the Android Central App
  • "HRD video" little typo Posted via the Android Central App
  • I installed Horizon on my phone and never looked back. I can't accidentally shoot horizontally if I tried and it keeps anyone holding the phone from doing it either. https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2F...
  • Cool!
  • Something on my LG G3 causes the audio to get distorted and muffled whenever the camera is zoomed even just a little. Left alone at default distance everything is fine but try to move in just a little bit and the audio goes all wonky. Never been able to figure out what's causing it.
  • Android Central should change it's name to Ad(roid) Central. Nothing but blinking ads everywhere disturbing to readers. It reminds of the old days of the internet and those old outdated hubs.
  • Perhaps you need some better ad block software; there's is not one ad on this page for me.
  • Oh do tell. The site's unbearable. I don't use the site anymore.