by Marjorie Dawson, DashKitten.com
Do you take a deep breath when a fellow cat lover proudly shares their latest cat movie on social media. They say ’I shot it on my iPhone’ and you think ‘I wish I could do that’.
Well, you can. It’s not as scary or as hard as you might think. If you own a smartphone you can create movies you will love and want to show off to your friends. Your own cat family can be in the social media spotlight.
All it takes is a little time, a little knowledge, and you have a lot of fun. Oh, and patience with your feline supermodels!
As a cat lover you are lucky. You have the perfect subject, and you are not under the pressure that a blogger or small business might feel. You don’t need to create the perfect movie just create special memories of your fur family.
DO I NEED A FANCY PHONE TO MAKE MOVIES?
No, there is no best smartphone for filmmakers. If fact, did you know films in Hollywood have been made on an iPhone? It’s true.
As long as your phone can record video you can start filming. You can also make movies using an iPad or a tablet. The lens on your smartphone is fine for cat movie making.
What you do need:
A Cat (or two or three…)
A little time to explore your smartphone
THE NEWBIES STARTER CHECKLIST
These tips will help you start creating movies. Let’s do this one paw step at a time. If you don’t get it first time, just try again.
- Learn how to hold your smartphone the right way.
- Try to film in good light
- Brace yourself to avoid wobble
- Adopt a fun creative viewpoint. Get down at cat level, or point your ‘phone at a kitty high up.
Holding Your SmartPhone
I recommend starting out with your device held horizontally. This will avoid the ‘vertical video’ look with black borders on either side. Experiment, and don’t worry if things don’t work first time. Each smartphone will be different so set aside a little bit of playtime to take a few silly shots then replay and have a giggle. My first shots were far from perfect!
Cats in the Light
Smartphones are not built to compensate for dim light so try to use natural light, or film near a window. As cats love ‘bird TV’ this might be a win win for your first movie.
Filming in a brightly lit room works as well. Keep your cat in the middle of the screen as much as you can, it’s easier to follow them when they move and they don’t vanish out of shot quite so fast.
TIP Don’t shoot into the light unless you want a silhouette. This effect is known as backlighting and while it can be a creative tool, it’s not the best way to get a good cat video.
Keeping it Stable
The one thing that will make your videos stand out from the crowd is a good steady shot.
Sudden movements following a cat will give your friends motion sickness, and they will not be impressed. Brace against a firm element like a doorway or ledge, and follow (called tracking) as smoothly as you are able.
BUT don’t be afraid to take risks as you gain confidence. You and your cats are on an adventure so jump in and never be afraid to try anything.
Top Tips for a Good Shot:
- Get down on the floor with your cats;
- Try cool closeups at different levels;
- Try different angles;
- Concentrate on holding a steady shot
- Try not to giggle, (I know, this can be really hard!)
- News cameraman Ron Lee gave this tip at a video workshop I attended. When you are holding your device “Zoom with your feet”. This means less wobble and a smoother shot.
Experts may recommend your smartphone filmmaking equipment should include a microphone (mic). I will be honest, I have not used one in any of my cat films. Your smartphone has a good basic microphone. It does the job, will pick up meows and yowls, so don’t fuss about it.
Top Tips for Good Audio:
- Make sure your audio is on. Yes, I’ve been there and shot a silent movie.
- Avoid windy locations as smartphone mics magnify the breeze.
- Remember background chatter can sound loud in a recording. Try to find a quiet location if you can.
- If you have a habit of talking to your kitty check how you sound. Dn’t go ‘Oh my Goodness’ and hide! You are not as bad as you think and people are happy to hear a pet parent’s voice.
Help! My sound is a disaster
This is one area that you never need to stress about, and I mean it!
Mistakes and bloopers in sound can covered with music or a sound effect. Not perfect but it can save a good shot with indifferent sound.
Our Top Tips for New Creatives
Play around with a program without expecting to create a finished project. Doing this takes the pressure off. Mistakes stop being disasters and become learning experiences you can laugh at.
- Import kitty clips to practice with.
- Trim those clips,
- Learn to undo a mistake,
- Practice adding transitions
- Add and remove text and music.
Give yourself permission to do it wrong and you will gain a lot more confidence as you create.
EDITING FOR NEW MOVIE MAKERS
This puts a lot of people off making even a fun small movie. It shouldn’t!
There are two ways to edit. One is super easy, the other takes a little bit of time and effort. The second option is worth it for a super impressive cat movie so try it. some time.
Don’t Edit At All – Method One
Yes, you can avoid editing. Really. It is important to have a story and plan.
Keep your clips short at around 4 seconds each and tell your story in a series of consecutive shots as a narrative. Aim to keep your cat loving friends watching with variety and angles as part of your story. Then upload to social media. Fast and furiously instant.
Editing On Your Smartphone – Method Two
Your screen is small and your options are smaller in range, but you can create and edit a movie using any smartphone app you prefer. This means instant holiday fun as a simple movie can be edited and uploaded with a bit of practice.
We use Videoshop which has free and paid options, but there are plenty of apps for both Android and for iPhones. Many are free, or have a try before you buy option with more limited functionality. You can have fun shooting video clips in each app without the pressure of having to generate a finished movie.
Top Tips for Choosing an App:
- Does the layout and ‘feel’ appeal to you?
- Are you comfortable using it, or does the app seem hard work?
- Are the functions you want to use easy to find (import, editing, tools)?
- Totally lost? Try an online search for ‘The Best Smartphone Apps of the Year for iPhone/Android’. Let the experts give you their recommendations.
- If you find an app and want to explore further, see if there are ‘How To’ videos on You Tube.
Editing On Your Computer – Method 2 (Even Easier)
Computer editing takes a little while to learn but the end results can blow your friends’ socks off.
Computers have bigger screens which makes editing a lot easier and you will have a wider range of options for creating a more elaborate movie.
OK How Do I Start Editing?
On both the computer and your smartphone ignore the fancy bells and whistles. This means most of what you see on the screen. Use your ‘Help’ menu, online help or YouTube find out five basic things:
- How to import your clips;
- How to add them to your timeline and trim to size;
- How do you add a transition between clips;
- Learn to adjust sound levels or add music/text;
- Upload A Finished Movie.
These simple steps are all you need to make a movie. You put clips in an editor, you cut them up to fit your story, add a fun tune and a few words and upload. One paw step at a time.
Adding The Finishing Touches To Your Superb Cat Movie
TIP: Don’t spend a long time adding extras to your movie.
Add text if you need to explain something, and music if you want or need to. Your movie will be maybe a minute or two long. You don’t need to do a lot, your cat is the star!
Oh, and this tune you may want to use.
A Note on Music (Copyright)
You can’t just help yourself to music you find online. Copyright is being defended by musicians and their lawyers with increasing determination and an illegal clip might cost you a lot of money.
You can compose your own short track using a program like GarageBand. Or you can buy music online. While not everyone has the sound turned on, our cats antics look and sound better when the are accompanied by a tune from a company like AudioJungle.com. A track costs a few dollars and gives you an official licence, keeping your conscience clear. Companies like www.envato.com offer a free track with their monthly mailing list.
Uploading Your Movie
Once the final touches are added, you can upload your movie to social media, YouTube or Vimeo. This is done from within your app or programme making it even easier than could imagine.
Uploading can take time because your movie is a big file. It might take up quite a bit of space on a smartphone or hard drive too, so you need to decide if you want to save a movie on your computer, or store it on YouTube or Vimeo.
One last thing.
There is a lot of information here but remember, you are halfway home because you know how to operate a smartphone. You know where to find the best cat model and you know that no-one sees anything you do until the magic moment you decide to put it online.
You are the smart movie power behind the button. Go and use it to make fun movies, and make people smile.
watch this video
Free Movie Editing Software That My Cats Like:
iMovie (Mac/iPhone) is free on every Macintosh.
Lightworks (Windows/Mac/Linux) Free
HitFilm Express (Windows/Mac) Free