How to Record a Mobile Device Using a Camera – TechSmith Tips

This week’s TechSmith Tip focuses on using a camera to record a mobile device.

“Blasphemy!” cried the townspeople as they descended on TechSmith headquarters, pitchforks in hand. “Why would you use a camera to record a mobile device at a screen recording company!?”

Well, consider this method a tool in a toolbox. It can be jarring for viewers to cut from a “real world” camera video with actors right into a screen video. Using this technique eases the transition from your live video to your screen recording. Or Perhaps you’re using an accessory like a new tablet pen that you’d like to review? Maybe your fingernails are on fleek and you want to show off that fresh new manicure. Whatever the case, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and we here at TechSmith Tips have got your back with some tips on how to make your mobile device look good through a lens. Enjoy!


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Hello and welcome to another episode of TechSmith Tips. Today I’m going to be talking about getting a quality video from any mobile device using a camera.

While most often a screen recording will do, there are some advantages to filming your device with a camera, gestures are more easily understood and you can show off your fancy device. The downside is making sure your hands don’t get in the way and dealing with reflections on the screen. Consider these factors before deciding whether you want to do a screen recording or use a camera.

So to get started you’ll want a solid surface on which to place your mobile device. I like a clean, distraction free environment, but you can personalize your desktop around the device to fit the theme of your video.

Ideally you’ll want to be shooting directly down. Some tripods have an arm that allows for this action, but if your tripod does not it’s ok to shoot towards the device if you prop it up, just make sure your background suits your needs.

For lighting you’ll want to avoid pointing any lights directly at the device. You’ll end up with glare on the screen and the edges of your glossy screen. In this scenario it’s best to bounce light. You can use a bounce card like this which can be bought cheaply on amazon, or even just use a cheap white poster board, which is a good budget option.

It’s very helpful to use manual focus and exposure on your camera to make sure your camera doesn’t adjust in the middle of the video. Auto focus and exposure can adjust to your hands entering frame and cause an unpleasant viewing experience. If your camera has focus assist, use it to check your focus on the screen.

And that’s about it for the basics of recording a mobile device with a camera. If you have any tips of your own please leave them in the comments below, questions too of course. And be sure to subscribe for more weekly videos like this. Thanks for watching!

TechSmith Tips is a weekly series that will focus on tips in screencasting, video editing, and more. We’ll be breaking down what equipment you’ll need, providing help in common problem areas, and hopefully suggesting a few cool techniques you hadn’t even considered.

Each video has a level of difficulty associated with it, so if you’re a new user or an old pro you’ll know where to look for just what you need. Most of the videos will be operating system agnostic but we’ll be sure to mark the video if it’s a PC or Mac specific tip.