Lights, Camera, Blog Part 01: Using Socialcam to build your video skills


This is Socialcam in action with a black and white filter called ‘noire’ on display. You can swipe your viewing screen to work through the filters after your first click of the red Record button. On the second click, you are filming. The third click stops the show.

So, you are interested in shooting some video for your online marketing but don’t feel confident with a camera?

This is where your smartphone and Socialcam can come to the rescue.

Socialcam is a free app for iPhone and Android phones that makes it easy to:

  • Shoot video
  • Apply styles
  • Add music and titles
  • Share video online

I would argue that before you take your ‘real’ video camera out its case, you spend some time shooting scenes with your phone in your office, at home with your family, or when you’re out at the beach or markets or national park.

This is one of the best ways to learn quickly about what works and what doesn’t work because you can shoot, package and review your work quickly – and then learn from your ‘mistakes’.

I have a few sample videos to show you but first some key points about my mission with the Lights, Camera, Blog series. It is about:

  • empowering you to create interesting social media content without having to spend big dollars on a professional crew. However, there will be some times when you DO choose to go down that route.
  • understanding that this is not about training you up in a completely different field but rather just sharing some basic tips and pointers so that if you get some ideas for simple messages to share, the technology and technique will not be an obstacle.
  • realising that many of your customers and potential customers are likely to be fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes at your business, as part of their assessment process in deciding to choose you or a competitor, or just as part of their growing awareness that they need a product or service like yours.

So, on with a few quick videos and some pointers before you start.

Keep it private

Remember, this first set of exercises is about shooting video for the sake of learning, rather than creating a masterpiece first time round.

This means you have licence to be self indulgent and ponder your own interests. That could involve shooting people, pets and places around you, for your own consumption.

Your goal at first is to shoot, watch, think about improvements, then shoot again.

Even though Socialcam is designed to share your video work instantly to Facebook, Twitter, and many other online places, you can turn those settings off.

You should enjoy the freedom during this stage of shooting from different angles, in different lighting conditions and with the camera still or moving – this film can lay on the cutting room floor, as they say.

How it works

Download Socialcam from the app store related to your phone and configure it with your details.

After that, it is simply a case of clicking the red button, pictured above, to turn on the camera, swiping the camera view from side to side to select a special effects filter, then clicking the red button to start recording followed by clicking it again after you have finished.

You add a title to your work, then click Next.

On the last screen you can apply some credits (they are based on your video title, your username, your location and the date – different titles bring up different combinations of that information) and some music.

NOTE: There is a volume slider under the music buttons, this can help you soften the music track so we don’t lose what your subjects are saying or the general sounds of the location.

You can click to preview your movie before you finish and ‘share’ it.

It is a good idea in settings to ask Socialcam to save a copy to your phone’s library, so you can watch them easily if you have chosen not to flick them up to youtube or similar.

I’ll finish with a sample video I shot with my four year old daughter on the weekend, as an example of a video that breaks many rules and will NOT be interesting to many people.

The reason I will share it here is because we can learn a few things together:

  • Knowing that I was going to put some titles at the beginning means that I deliberately started filming the table cloth and gave myself a couple of seconds before I moved to have my subject in full view
  • TIME is SLOW on film – yes, my little girl took what seems like forever to actually answer the first question. This is fine for personal videos but would have lost too many viewers in the public domain.
  • Black and white works nicely for taking a mundane setting and creating some visual interest – this is black and white because before I shot it, I swiped the Socialcam app viewfinder to apply the filter called ‘noire’
  • I knew the music bed would fade out so I gave us a second or so at the end by panning down to the tablecloth again

These are the sorts of things you learn by doing. Here is the video:

Enjoy. That is the main thing with Socialcam. Have fun trying different things so that later, when we’re ready to capture social footage for your online marketing, you’ll have a sense of what works and what doesn’t work.


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