When we interview small town doctors, they never fail to mention running into their patients at the grocery store and getting asked questions about a symptom or ailment. This may be the only way I can relate to a doctor. As a video professional, friends and clients often ask me what camera or lens I’d recommend buying that’s within their budget. But one of the most difficult questions to answer is “Can I use footage from my phone for our professional video?” The answer is yes and no.
It’s no news that smartphone video is beautiful. So beautiful that Apple ran an entire campaign shot on an iPhone. But a marketing or advertising video is not as simple as dragging and dropping smartphone footage into a sequence. It needs to tell a story. Just like any content, smartphone footage requires a good bit of planning to be executed effectively.
When we were approached by a client to produce a television ad with only a Facebook video that was filmed on a smartphone, we knew that this would require some thought before putting together. First, we had to figure out how to fit portrait-oriented stills and video into a landscape frame. The smartphone footage we were using didn’t have usable sound and we needed to add text on screen to complete the story. The editor of the project, Gabe Ofca, explained that using just the footage on-screen with supporting text side-by-side just wasn’t evoking the dramatic emotions that needed to accompany this ad. Instead, he scaled the footage to fill the landscape-oriented frame. Gabe decided that image quality wasn’t essential for this project. “It’s cell phone footage and people know that. And because of that, the footage is more believable.” Not only is the footage not staged, but it doesn’t look staged. It’s as real as footage in an ad can get.
Check out the final ad here:
The best question to ask yourself is “Can this footage be captured again?” If the footage doesn’t have a uniquely authentic experience, you’re better off reshooting the images professionally. Don’t think of it as a workaround to paying for professionally shot video. Your viewers will thank you. Keep in mind, cell phone footage can be a powerful way to authentically promote your brand.
Have you creatively used cell phone video? Share your work in the comment section below or click the link below to talk about it one-on-one.