Eight tips for better video streaming performance on your mobile ‘phone

Updated: May 20

Lots of people are video streaming at the moment. So if this is you and perhaps you are new to it all, here are eight tips that will hopefully improve your performance.

1) Look at the camera! There are so many videos where people are talking to me but not looking at me which I think looks a bit weird. Of course I know that they were looking at the screen where they can see themselves and others, but when it's time to talk it’s much better for an outside viewer if the look straight down the lens.

TIP No1 – Obviously look at the lens but in addition, a lot of mobile ‘phone cameras let you drag the thumbnail picture that you see of yourself around the screen. Find where your camera lens is, put your ‘phone in selfie record mode and using your finger, drag the little picture of you as close to the lens itself so that when you do check yourself from time to time, and hey why wouldn’t you want to, you’re not looking too far away from the camera and your audience.

2) Consider what you sound like. Distance from the 'phone and your environment quite often dictates how you will sound. Ambient noises can be picked up to which can also be distracting.

TIP No2 – If you are going to be doing lots of streams then a lavalier microphone connected to your mobile ‘phone will make a world of difference. Search for ‘lavalier microphone for iphone’ (or Android) online and you’ll see they start from about £12- I have a few, one being made by BOYA which has 3.5mm jack with a 6m cable and works a treat for both camera and Android ‘phone. Most background noise gets cut out leaving just your own silky dulcet tones.

But please do a little research first and check the size of the port on your own ‘phone first as you may need to use an adapter as well.

3) Consider your backdrop. No matter how engaging you might be or pleasing to the eye, viewers will always look to see what is behind you. We can’t help it!

TIP No3 – De clutter and simplify. Move the ironing board and anything else out of the cameras viewpoint to make things look better. It might not be the way it usually is but only you know that. How often are we seeing television presenters broadcasting from home from tidy kitchens or just with a bookcase behind them? It could well be the only tidy place in their house and yet, we would never know.

4) Light is your friend and natural light is free. A well lit room makes all the difference and stops the picture from being mushy or falling apart although some florescent & led lights can be seen to flicker when recorded so have a trial run first.

TIP No4 – Turn towards a natural light source if you can. You don’t need to go the whole way but this will help. If this is not possible then use whatever you can. Obviously you can buy lighting but if you are starting out, borrow a few lamps from other rooms and experiment by putting them in different locations in front of you, record a bit of footage then play back to see what it looks like.

Also, you may have seen on TV dramas that even during the day, candles or other lights may be on in the background. This is to light otherwise dark areas and give the overall exposure more of a balance across the screen.

BONUS TIP – Try lighting up these dark areas that might be behind you as well. Hey, you’ve tidied up so why not? It looks more professional and is more pleasing to the eye.

5) Phone settings. You might not have changed these in years but now at least have a look and see if you can make any improvements.

TIP No5 – By pressing the screen when in camera mode, but does depend on your model of 'phone we have to say, quite often changes the exposure. Try touching on both light and dark areas on the screen to see firstly if it works and and if so, what looks best. If you are in a dark environment even with lighting, find where it says ISO and increase the value. This can help but again you will have decide what looks best. And stick to a natural profile or filter unless you are going for a specific ‘look’.

6) Moving your ‘phone. If you are going to move your ‘phone about consider this tip.

TIP No6 – Move it slowly. You might not have a gimbal or selfie-stick and are holding it by hand, which is fine, but whatever the case, try and be ‘smooth’. Again this will be more pleasing to your viewer unless you are recreating a zombie apocalypse. And once you’ve shown your audience something, don’t be like one guy I saw who panned across his showroom from left to right and then back again from right to left and then, as he did the first time, left to right again. Once we’ve seen it, we’ve seen it! Just do it slowly initially (and smoothly) and then move on.

7) Horizontal or vertical ‘phone. This depends on personal preference and what it is you are showing really.

TIP No7 – A ‘phone orientated horizontally will actually show more of your environment so would be better for most situations. A vertical ‘phone has limitations but might be useful in some instances eg. Someone demonstrating an outfit. Regardless of orientation, once decided you’ll have to stick with it for the stream unless you intentionally want your viewers to turn their head ninety degrees each time you change it.

8) Practice, practice practice. An obvious one perhaps but one that says it all.

TIP No8 - Place your 'phone on your desk, the cushion next to you, wherever and talk to it! You might feel better doing this when no one's around and that's fine. Set it recording as well if you like but just talk. The more you do this and get used to hearing your own voice out loud, the less weird it will seem when you record for real leaving you time to concentrate on what it is you are trying to say.

That’s it so thanks very much for reading. I could go on but there’s enough here to be going on with which I hope helps. Happy streaming.

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