How to produce a pro-level video in a day – using just an iPhone

One of the oldest and best ways to help people align to a direction is through storytelling. A clear narrative which invites people to take part.

By now most communicators will have recorded a video of some sort and uploaded it. Simple right? The problem is that communicators are finding, through analytics, that simple talking heads don’t work for a message longer than 30 seconds or so. Basically, the audience turns away. TV producers know this instinctively and deploy a range of techniques to keep your attention.

How can these be copied easily – without a massive budget?

Well, I found myself at the Impact Hub in São Paulo talking to top photographer Ricardo Lisboa about the best apps for photography and video, and we decided to have a go.

The Challenge?

What many communicators face in these days of doing more with less: produce a pro-level video in short order with extremely limited resources. 

Here’s what we set out to do

First, we mapped out a shared understanding of the project scope:

  1. Technical constraints

Use only the equipment we had to hand and in our respective pockets, plus an array of affordable/free apps (see kit list at the end).

  1. Time limit

Plan, produce and publish within a single working day.

  1. Define the communication objectives

I rely on IABC’s Global Standard – and within that, I usually sketch things out using OASIS – Objective, Audience, Strategy, Implementation, Scoring (i.e. how do you know it was a success).

To summarize: our objective was to raise awareness about the benefits of co-working and the amazing collaboration opportunities it generates, using the Impact Hub global network as one practical example.

Why, where, and who?

As keen supporters of the co-working movement – we’re both keen to see more places like this crop-up around the world.

We worked with João Vitor Caires, the Community Manager at Impact Hub São Paulo, to develop his key messaging – and of course to seek permission to film! Our target audience was defined as change-focused people who may not have considered trying out a co-working space before.

How we did it: a case study for delivering a pro-level video in 12 hours

08:00 – We mapped out our storyboard and agreed to the shot list and background shots we needed. Planning out the right shots (i.e. storyboard) in advance saves time – and battery power. We then walked João Vitor through the storyboard and we worked through his key messages one more time before – and then attached a microphone and precariously balanced Ricardo’s iPhone on a chair (in lieu of a tripod).

11:00 – Once we had that in the bag we captured a typical ‘end user’ (me) to complement the story – and then finally grabbed some background shots (again, with permission from those featured). All in we had about 15min of footage – nice and tight thanks to the planning.

A quick review against the original storyboard shows that we made some tweaks against the original plan – a bit of adaptation to circumstances helps quicken the pace. Satisfied with the raw material, Ricardo then took over for the post-production element (see his top tips further down). Do also allow plenty of time for waiting around for the right moment for the background shots – and your interviewees.

13:00 Ricardo takes the lead on editing (on his iPhone!) – basing his cuts on the storyboard. We review a couple of drafts. Meanwhile I worked up the copy to wrap around it.

16:00 Video complete, uploaded and ready for final review.

17:00 Publish!

Kit list:

  • 2x iPhones – handy in case one of them runs out of battery (or storage)
  • 1x Røde lavalier mic (or any equivalent microphone) – for improved audio
  • 1x OlloClip lens – for wide angle shots

App list (all free)

  • Hyperlapse – a timelapse app, perhaps counter-intuitively running at 1x speed – great for stabilising for the slow pans
  • iMovie for iOS – for editing and creating titles
  • Video Filters – for grading the video

What could make our life a little bit easier next time:

  • A tripod / monopod + a case with a mount (we balanced the iPhone on a shelf and a chair respectively – a bit precarious).
  • An iPad for the editing – a bigger screen is helpful to be fair.

The Result?

A brief case study video making the case for co-working using real people in a real space.

Ricardo’s Top Tips

  1. Plan first, to get the right shots – sketching out a storyboard is essential
  2. Consider colours and contrast best suited for the subject – for example: complementary colours can help in brightly coloured locations
  3. Use Hyperlase on 1x speed to stabilize and a lens set and good quality microphone if available
  4. Edit in iMovie for iOS – as it does almost everything to an Apple-quality standard
  5. Grade using Video Filters (free app) – it easily re-renders iMovie exports with your preferred colour
  6. Publish on Vimeo – great for high quality online rendering and playback – and long term storage

Originally published on – and if you’re looking for an Impact Hub, you can find them all here: – and you can follow Ricardo on Instagram and get in touch with him

Michael Ambjorn is founder of @alignyourorg. You can follow him @michaelambjorn