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


First Things First: a weekly alignment espresso that’ll look after both you and your goals

XX Having closed out my time with the RSA (2010-13 notes here), I today found myself with my very first Monday morning of what is a new beginning.

To help bring some structure to the office-less life, I created myself a small to-do list for future Mondays – and although it is rather personal, I thought I’d share it here in case it is of use to anybody else:

Strategic grounding

// align with personal goals – make sure your intent is front of mind before you try and sort through the rest

  • Check organisational goals – yes, read them out. Aloud. I do. (You may however not want to do this in the carriage of a train or, say, on a busy double-decker).
  • Check personal goals (the source of sanity for many) – and for me it is about looking after my curiosity – one example being the culinary, whether cooking or coffee. From the act of foraging through preparation and enjoyment through to what happens next:  associated documentation through writing, photography / timelapses / book reviews and other opinions etc.). It is essential for me to make time for that throughout the week and with a bit of creativity one can do both this and what must be done to keep the wheels on the bus (preparing proposals, paying bills).

Practical action

// align with the people who matter – through LinkedIn / Facebook / G+ etc. (and email)

  • Check upcoming birthdays – hoping to become better at this
  • Who’s got a new gig? Congratulate accordingly and offer help if relevant – and don’t forget to thank / endorse those who have helped you
  • Event list
  • Check key pages to stay on top of things
  • Only then attack email as that would otherwise distract from the above (at least for me)

// align time so it turns from chaos into cadence – by getting the calendar right

  • The week ahead – spend a moment really letting it sink in what needs to be done – reconfirm appointments as appropriate
  • The month ahead – gaps/opportunities? Things that can be combined for better effect?
  • The quarter ahead – as above
  • The long term plan – does this help contribute to where things need to be in one (in specific), three (in the broader sense), five (conform to core personal values and principles)

At this point, adjust your editorial calendar – accordingly and pour yourself another coffee: you’re off to a good start.

Rinse and repeat every Monday morning.

Michael Ambjorn is founder of // Align Your Org – you can follow him @michaelambjorn for a dose of all of the above. You can also join the conversation: #ALIGN.


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