Mobile Media Ministry #5: Top 10 Tips for Mobile Video Production

1. Short is sweet

Mobile videos should be kept to five minutes or less. This is due to Viewers’ limited attention span.

  1. Because of the viewer’s “mobile” context (moving, interruptions, other tasks, etc.)
  2. Because of the extra concentration required in viewing materials on a small video screen

The need to keep file sizes small for Bluetooth phone-to-phone transfer expensive (in the emerging world) over the air download (< 5MB is recommended)

2. Visually simple

Nothing can kill a good show on the mobile screen like a cluttered frame. Keep your video visually simple. One recommendation is that an actor on the screen should not take up less than two-thirds of the screen and no more than two actors should be shown at one time.

3. Keep camera movement to a minimum

Use fewer and slower camera movement. This helps to avoid confusing the viewer and keeps the final, compressed and mobile formatted (3GP or MP4), product from being blurred and pixelated which typically occurs with rapid pans, etc.

4. Keep it close

Don’t get too far away- viewers can’t pick out detail on the mobile screen. Start close and base your shot progression around that starting point. Long shots only work with very high color contrast.

5. If you’re bright, you’ll use lots of light

Make sure your shots are well lit to avoid dark and grainy video on the already more difficult to view mobile screen!

6. Audio is king

At the end of the day a viewer is more likely to stop watching a mobile video due to poor audio quality than poor video quality (they will put it up to their ear prioritizing hearing it over seeing it)! Be sure that dialogue is ultra clear. Excessive compression can add artifacts to the sound, so it is especially important to make sure all dialogue is crystal clear. Soft (quiet) or deep bass sounds are not useful as they are not well reproduced with mobile phone speakers. Listen to the audio after final compression and perhaps with background noises similar to what a mobile listener might be experiencing (traffic noise, crying babies, etc.) and modify as necessary.

7. Use audio to help your audience see it

Audio can add to the picture things that may be difficult to show visually. With limited screen space, audio can play a key role in making viewers notice actions that may be hard to see.

8. When it comes to text and graphics, bigger is better

Bold san-serif fonts work best for text and text/graphics that might fill a single shot in another medium may need to be broken down to three shots. Test readability on various size/resolution screens.

9. Test and ensure it works well from low to high end devices

The video is going to a bunch of devices of different capabilities. It has to work on the lowest of low-tech that can handle it as well as the best of the best. Test your media on various devices early on in the production process to check for a) whether or not it plays and b) if the content and audio and video quality are able to work together to draw the viewer in (if not, modify recording volume, video compression, actual recording, whatever it takes!).

10. The mobile medium is inherently interactive- play to that strength

Video content should propel viewers to further interaction with your ministry/the Church (perhaps via a website which has further video episodes and is presented at the end of the video, having SMS-based registration advertized on the video. Registered viewers might be able to help decide what will happen in a future episode or interact with characters in the video via texting, etc.). At a minimum, make sure a follow up contact detail (website, e-mail address, phone number to text, etc.) is included in the video.

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