Know your Onions … Gale Astley, writer and filmmaker, shares her tips on how to create product videos like a pro

Whether you are videoing for social media or your website, videos are an excellent way to push your company / brand higher up in the search engine rankings and get noticed. Not all of us have the budget to commission a pro, so Gale Astley (who specialises in creating videos for the greeting card and gift industries), shares her top tips on how to create magical, product videos using just your mobile phone.

Gale Astley

Mobile Movie Magic for Greeting Card Publishers and Artists by Gale Astley.

Not all of us have an Arri Alexa camera to replicate the next 007 Bond movie. Thankfully, the results of shooting videos on our mobile phones are now incredibly good, and much easier to use and upload to social media, and your phone has tons of features – hyperlapse (speeded up), slow mo, editing and create movies features, filters, music, graphics – they’re all in your phone, and that’s before downloading and paying for other apps for ‘special effects’! 

A synopsis of filmmaking is: Take a number of video shots (horizontally), use Movie Maker (or similar) already on your phone to create the film, edit/tweak, add music track and add title caption.

Remember to shoot horizontally

As an imaginative greeting card designer/publisher, there’s lots of creative fun to harness. So, turn your mobile phone to Airplane mode in case you get a call from Mum to interrupt your recording, and let’s get the camera rolling!

The Script

Have a story or idea of how you’re going to shoot your greeting cards and engage your audience. You don’t need to write a script, story or have a shot list but have an idea of what you want to achieve. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and use objects as props and the environment around you. 

Consider what you want to convey in your film

Make it Short ‘n’ Sweet

Bombarded by millions of images and videos on social media, no one has the time to watch them all, so make yours short ‘n’ sweet. Each social media channel allows a maximum time limit on the length of videos on its platform, usually between 15 seconds to 2 minutes – discover each one’s requirements by researching online. 

Set the Scene

Just as in Hollywood movies, the stage or scenery are important. Dress your scene to reflect either the card designs and your brand. It looks unprofessional to have an open door, your kids’ toys or your well-loved trainers in the background… unless it’s part of the look, and even then, be aware of using others’ brands in focus as this can break property licensing laws.

Set the scene

Lighting

It’s so important to have the right lighting! Natural outdoor light is best so face your designs toward a window or shoot outside. 

Greeting cards are particularly hard to film as the white board can look grey, so I would recommend buying a tungsten bulb and a spot light lamp – one with a bendy arm – this blue-hue light looks much better on white objects than the yellow of fluorescent light, although don’t place too close because of strobing. 

Also, foil and white paper can reflect light and tracing paper can defuse for a softer light. But don’t worry, your phone or social media colour filters can hide some of your lighting sins.

The Moving Picture

For most social media channels, and in the film world, videos are shot horizontally, so turn your mobile long-ways. Instagram Stories however, has a vertical format.

Filming is different from photography, as the camera or subject moves. This is good news for mobile phone videos as it’s not always necessary to use a tripod as hand held video shots, if not too shaky, can add energy to your video. 

However, for steady or still shots use a mobile Monkey Tripod or a piece of Playdoh* and attach your phone to a steady surface and shoot (horizontally). Gaffa Tape is also great for attaching to surfaces too. 

You don’t need fancy equipment, Playdoh & gaffa tape can help in keeping your phone steady

* Replicate a ‘dolly’ or a tracking shot by fixing your phone long-ways to a book with Playdoh or Blue-Tac. Whilst videoing the subject, move the book along for a panning shot.

* Make a loop from a long piece of string that wraps around your foot and all the way up to wrap around your phone. This will steady your shot.

Score Music

Unfortunately we don’t all know a composer like Ennio Morricone to create music for our films, but there are some free music online. Royalty free music can be found on Bensound.com, older music is out of copyright after 100 years and Moby offers some free ambient sounds. Artlist is also reasonably priced. 

Bensound.com offers royalty free music

Be aware that it’s not okay to use music artists’ work without permission and is illegal, so Beyonce’s latest track is a big no.

Some quick and easy filming ideas to make your videos more interesting

Match cut – Sabivo Designs’ cards
Match cut – Sabivo Designs’ cards
Hyperlapse zoom-in
Playdoh Panning shot – Courgette Cards
Match cut zoom-in and out – Courgette Cards

This post was created for the Creative Card Collective Facebook Group and Blog by Gale Astley, a freelance copywriter and filmmaker.

A big thank you to Gale for sharing her expertise; but if that is all too much to do on top of your day job and you want a professional to create your videos, then why not get in touch with Gale, she can be contacted via

email: astleygale@gmail.com

or you can follow her on Instagram: astleygale

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