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Make a Fun Smartphone Movie of Your Pet

Today’s blog post is by Marjorie Dawson, of the popular blog, Dash Kitten.  To learn more about Marjorie Dawson and the Dash Kitten blog, visit our Contributors and Authors page.

If you have a smartphone, you can make a Smartphone movie of your pet. It can be fun, exciting and with a little bit of preparation it can be low stress. There are things you can do, and things you can’t do while making a movie with your smartphone. You can capture fun moments, candid shots and sweet closeups. You can edit them into a short movie and even add music.

Check out this very short film. It’s my first movie as a proud ‘cat mom’. It was shot on an iPhone4S and edited on the ‘phone. I used the mobile version of iMovie (Android and Windows should have similar basic editors).

The short movie was then uploaded straight to Vimeo over Wi-Fi while I stood in the garden. The whole procedure was done in 10 minutes. Not perfect maybe, but a moment to treasure was shared with friends and family as soon as it was finished. This is the kind of moment you can capture:

Harvey from UHARS from Marjorie Dawson on Vimeo.

Making that little film taught me a lot of useful things I would like to share with you.

Tips for the Newbie Smartphone Movie Maker

  1. No one is perfect. Make mistakes and learn from them.
  2. Know your smartphone’s movie app. You get better every time you use it.
  3. Have a simple idea as your guide. Even if it’s just Jasper the puppy’s first Christmas, or Sienna the cat’s first Valentine’s Day. This gives you a focus.
  4. Keep it short. A minute or so is a great goal to aim for.
  5. Keep your shots brief. If you aim for about 3 or 4 seconds (Pro tip from WBTV cameraman Ron Lee) you can create a story with pace and excitement. BUT, don’t be afraid to go longer if it helps your story.
  6. Recording a pet in action? Get down there on the carpet or on the grass for a fun close-up!
  7. Try to start with an engaging moment to grab your audiences’ attention!  Not sure about that? Announce your movie with a title that gives a bit of fanfare to what you’re going to do.

Edit your Smartphone Movie

Keep it simple for your small screen. Remember if you are not happy doing this step on a smartphone, download your clips to a computer and a larger screen. The following tips apply to both smartphone and computer editing.

PRO TIP Take your time editing.  Film Editors win awards for a reason. They do a good job and take their time.

For a short pet movie, editing can be done in a few steps:

  1. Load clips into your software and review your shots to find the ones you like best. These are the clips (or part of clips!) that tell your story.
  2. Trim your movie clips to size and add them to your movie ‘time line’.
  3. If you feel the movie doesn’t flow as well as you like, try adding a transition. Transitions like a simple cross dissolve might soften a move from one shot to another.
  4. Add a music track, and keep the volume under 50%. Music can add a happy vibe, or reflect a mood. Use the free music with iTunes, or a Creative Commons site and be conscious of copyright © at all times.

PRO TIP Trimming:

If you haven’t trimmed (the digital term for cutting movie film) video before, take a few practice clips and try adjusting them to different lengths. This is good practice, and no-one is peeking over your shoulder!

Upload Your Magnificent Movie

Finished your movie? You will want to share it with your friends and family. You have plenty of option for this.

  • Upload direct to Vimeo. They have free and paid options, as you can see here: Vimeo Price Plans
  • Upload direct to your Facebook page.
  • Upload to YouTube – great if you have your own channel.
  • Upload to Instagram (1-minute limit at the moment).

Movie Uploading Tips

Unless you have a paid account with any provider, you will usually have to wait a while before your movie uploads. Even a short one will queue for 20 minutes + especially if you upload at a busy time. This applies to YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook. Remember even a short movie file is larger than an email and picture.

Having a good Wi-Fi is very useful as it helps speed up your upload.

Extra Tips

Music, Copyright © and the Movie Maker

There is often a story in the news about a small film maker who ‘borrowed’ music only to have it come back and bite them hard. This is a serious matter and artists are now internet savvy so don’t take risks.

We have some suggestions based on what we have used in our own movie making:

  • Grab a track from the amazing imcompetech.com which works on Creative Commons (you acknowledge and name the artist). The range of options is impressive, and you get to preview each track.
  • Find a royalty free site local to you. This may vary in different countries.
  • Buy a track from envato.com (a track is licensed to you) or other music site. The prices at Envato range start at $4. The music is inexpensive, plentiful, easy to download and 100% safe to use.

PRO TIP: Join the envato.com monthly mailing list. They have a monthly list of time limited free tracks, themes, and graphics. Music tracks appear in the monthly freebies. Once your Smartphone movie is made, stand tall and be proud of yourself!

Every Smartphone movie you make will be better than even better as you learn more. You will make the most fabulous mini movies of your pets like a real pro! Now, get sharing those movies you make!

Happy Movie Making!
Marjorie Dawson and the
Dash Kitten Crew


1 Comment

  1. Amelia Johnson

    February 12, 2018 8:52 pm

    Thanks for these tips…I learned how to not overthink the process here. Imcompetech is news to me.

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