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Tips on How To Film With Your Mobile Phone

August 10, 2009 3 comments

Citizens have been turning to what’s in their pocket – their mobile phones – to document the events in their lives since the introduction of the camera phone.  However, an increasing trend is happening: Citizens are using their phones when they are in the wrong place at the wrong time to document everything from planes landing in a river to human rights abuses and police misconduct.  In addition, activists are using their phones to capture statements of support for their campaigns on video or via an audio-recording function – and with photos of actions and people holding signs of support.

Combined with the power of text messaging and platforms like Twitter to share from the scene, mobile phones can be an incredibly powerful tool and worth harnessing.   This is not an in-depth guide on how you can shoot video.  Rather, these are some baseline tips to help you film safely, capture the best footage you can, keep it safe and ultimately share it.  If you find yourself in a situation where you are an eyewitness to an incident, it is important to know how you can use your camera and available tools in the moment.

Top Tips for filming with your mobile phone

  • Be safe – assess the risks and make decisions to keep yourself safe.
  • Choose the highest quality setting your phone can handle – each phone is different, so explore to determine how you can maximize your quality and ensure the space needed to capture an event.
  • Set your settings to save your media to a memory card, not your phone (and get a large memory card).
  • Film short videos –
  • If applicable, ask someone to watch your back so you can concentrate on filming.
  • Focus on key actors and events.
  • As best you can, get footage to capture the context of the event – the who, what, where, when and why.
  • If it is safe to do so, get in close.  Your image will be probably be better and your audio will improve – particularly with mobile phones.  Know that quality diminishes quickly when you zoom.
  • Keep your hands steady and pan slowly – focus on filming as best you can.
  • Conduct interviews with witnesses to get context of what is happening in the moment – you may never have the opportunity later.
  • If applicable, record yourself in the moment describing what happened and as many details as possible from where you are at.  Include the date and time of what you saw, as well as what you are feeling.
  • Do a test-run (or maybe two).

SAFETY NOTE:  Protect yourself, your contacts and footage on your mobile phone

Protect yourself: If you are concerned about your own safety and security when using your phone, you may be able to use a phone anonymously if you can use a prepaid (also known as Pay As You Go) phone without a contract or registering the phone with identification, which is becoming more common.  However calls on mobile phones and the phone’s location can be traced through the mobile network provider.  Keep the phone turned off with its battery removed when not in use, and disable the GPS application.

Protect your friends: Remember, if you phone is seized, the authorities can find and review all of the data on your phone – your contacts, telephone call logs, texts sent and received, photographs, videos and audio files.  If you are filming in a high-security area, be sure to delete all you can from your phone.

Protect your media: Once the incident – which may only last a few seconds – is over, assess your situation for your personal safety, and then for the safety of your footage.  In many situations, a person or group of people may not want your footage to get out to either the authorities or to the media or both.  If you are safe but you assess a potential threat to your footage, you may have a few options other than fleeing the scene.

Whether your device has a tape or media card, you may want to either remove it and change it out, hide it or give the card to a friend to take away from the scene to safety.  You may also be able to share your footage from your mobile phone or device from the scene.  Though mobile phones and services capabilities range depending on the phone you are using, your wireless provider and capabilities of your network, there may be some way for you to share your images or video directly and immediately from your phone.

Upload from the scene: If you have a mobile phone or camera that can connect to the internet, use that connection!  For photos, you can email them to yourself (and a trusted friend as back-up) if you don’t want them to go public right away, a backup to ensure your content is secure and accessible if your footage or device is taken at the scene.  In addition to video sharing sites like YouTube where you can upload directly from your phone, if you are part of a social network like Facebook, Blogger or Twitter and want to get your content out far and wide immediately, then you can upload them directly to the site or through your phone by using MMS or email.

VIDEO:  Learn how to best film using your mobile phone

Categories: 3: Film Tags: , , , , ,

How to Stream Video From Your Mobile Phone

August 10, 2009 2 comments

Mobile video streaming technology is changing the world. Well, at least the world of video and how it can be shared online – and instantly!  Streaming tools run on a few different platforms that enable users with strong networks and a data plan to share their video in the moment and keep a copy in their user account – which you will need to set up in advance.  With an account comes a user profile page, similar to a YouTube profile page, where you can select your settings, describe who you are and enable people to find and download your content.

There are quite a few noteworthy features that some of the providers offer. In particular you are able to:

  • Indicate if your video is public or private
  • Geo-tag your content to document your location
  • Time-stamp your content in an indisputable fashion
  • Make your media embeddable and downloadable by others on the internet

As more ‘smart’ phones and robust networks are introduced and become accessible to more people, streaming video will be a more viable option for mass participation.  However, it has been and is being used in creative and effective ways to support social change campaigns. The following are two brief examples and ideas to spark your imagination.

Streaming video from an action or an event

Activists and groups have used streaming video from phones and even their computers’ web cams to show supporters their actions in real-time.  Smart tactics include inviting supporters to visit their website at a certain time to see what they and their supporters were doing to pressure their targets – often with an air of mystery by using email alerts and messaging that alluded to what was going to happen but just enough to ensure their supporters would come.  In addition to reengaging their supporters and keeping them updated and inspired with the campaign, streaming video can help drive actions to build email lists and garner more attention.

Case Study:  Streaming video to get news out from censored areas

Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) continues to be one of the most innovative grassroots organizations, successfully integrating online tools and video to raise awareness and pressure key decision makers.

During the 2008 Olympics in China, SFT worked to bypass the censorship and barriers to getting news coverage and focus on their actions within China to spotlight the campaigns to Free Tibet. Their innovative and multi-tool approach showed the potential of integrating new and old online and mobile tools – including a 24-hour live streaming video from six different cities around the world to cover their actions in Beijing – while keeping the focus on their campaign and supporters engaged. Additionally, they would stream video from their phones while actions took place to ensure the visuals got out and the story was heard.

SPECIAL NOTE
Every situation is unique and comprised of a plethora of considerations that you will asses to determine your personal safety, which is clearly what is important.  Another consideration is the safety and security of those that are in your footage – how may they be negatively impacted if they are identified.  WITNESS, an international human rights organization that trains activists how to use video for advocacy, has a host of comprehensive guides that cover these topics in-depth.

Resources for streaming video from your phones

Please list company and brief description with links to the phones they support and FAQ pages.

FAQ with list of supported phones

http://qik.com/info/faq

general problems with qik

http://qiksupport.pbworks.com/

company website

http://www.flixwagon.com/

site comparing qik and flixwagon with introductory videos (2 minutes and 1 minute)

http://www.allaboutsymbian.com/features/item/Live_Streaming_Head_to_Head-Qik_and_Flixwagon.php