Technical How-To: Ensuring a video upload size of 16×9

Occasionally, Stringrs submit smartphone footage with the incorrect screen aspect ratio. Read this blog post for a quick fix.

THE STRINGR BLOG

by Kaitlyn Mitchell

This week’s blog post is quite technical, but we’re hoping it helps you out, Stringrs. Daily video submissions from Stringrs often appear on our platform in a smaller size than our customers prefer.

This is common problem that Stringr’s curation team comes across when carefully reviewing all of your video footage submissions: Some of the videos come in with a 4×3 aspect ratio, instead of 16×9. The aspect ratio is a term to describe the frame size of the video when it is eventually viewed.

At Stringr, the bare minimum requirements for your video to be promoted to our customers include:

  •  The video must be shot horizontally
  • The video must be shot with a 16×9 frame aspect ratio
  • The video must be newsworthy
  • The video must be nicely shot

Luckily for you iPhone users, the iPhone will ONLY export 1080p quality video via the 16×9 aspect ratio.

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Before You Shoot: A Checklist

by Kaitlyn Mitchell

Hey, Stringr! Yeah, you: If you’re serious about selling video regularly on the Stringr platform, but don’t want to invest in an expensive video camera, you should consider purchasing some attachments for shooting with your smartphone. Here’s your pre-shooting gear checklist, as well as a few tricks of the trade to keep in mind before heading out into the field.

iphoneshot

Prepare your phone

  • Make sure your battery is fully charged, and go into airplane mode to conserve battery. Wifi networks can still be accessed in airplane mode, but being connected to wifi and bluetooth will also drain battery.
  • Clean your lens — the sleeve of your shirt will work in a pinch.
  • Get rid of extra media and apps on your phone. If you need those apps for personal use, get another phone to be used specifically for shooting. So next time you get an upgrade, save your old model for shooting!
  • Test the sound and image before you start shooting the actual event, and play it back to make sure the sound comes through and the image isn’t blurry.
The user interface of the app FiLMiC Pro, available on the app store for $9.99.

The user interface of the app FiLMiC Pro, available on the app store for $9.99.

Lock autofocus and autoexposure

  • If you download See it with Us or FiLMiC Pro, you’ll be able to select an appropriate brightness and camera subject distance. These apps allow AE, AF, and AWB locks.
  • If you’re used to using an actual camera, remember that smartphones control exposure through shutter speed and ISO only. There is no “f:stop” control on your phone.
mobile-gorillapod-0246_600.0000001350315352

The Mobile GorillaPod can be attached to your arm to steady your shot.

Stabilize the camera

  • Use a tripod, rest your phone up against something, or hold your arms as close to your center of gravity as possible to reduce shaky footage. The heavier your phone, the more you reduce the sway. Watch our video blog on handheld shooting here.
  • Newer smartphones have stabilization built in — make sure that it is turned on.
  • Check out our video blog on tripods for more information.
  • Some specific models that have received positive reviews are: GorillaPod Mobile, The Keyprop, and GripTight Mount.
A reporter photographs musician James Taylor using an Apple iPhone as he gives an interview during the final day of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 6, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

A reporter photographs musician James Taylor using an Apple iPhone as he gives an interview during the final day of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 6, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Shoot for the editors

  • Most cameras cannot keep up with movement, so stay at as wide of an angle as possible.
  • NEVER zoom in and move; in fact, it’s best to avoid zooming all together. Digital zooms degrade the image.
  • Allow subjects to enter and leave the frame. Check out our video blog on framing your shot here.
  • Separate your interview subject from the background whenever you can, and don’t film your subject in front of windows or a bright background (otherwise, you won’t be able to see the subject).
  • Always shoot horizontally!
The Ampridge Mighty Mic.

The Ampridge Mighty Mic.

Get good sound 

  • Smartphones usually don’t allow you to monitor sound levels, so shoot a test and play it back while wearing your earphones to make sure that the video has audio.
  • Get up close and personal with your sound source if possible — this will eliminate extraneous sound.
  • Consider using a second phone for audio (just in case).
  • Wind will ruin your audio: If you have an external mic, put a softie on it. If you’re shooting with only your phone’s mic, try to block the wind with your hand if possible.
  • Consider an external microphone that plugs into a headphone jack. Some reliable models are: The Mighty Mic, Røde Videomic Go, and DXA-SLR Ultra Adapter (this one is advertised to be used with a DSLR camera, but it can be used with iPhones).
  • See our own video blog on getting better audio here.
The OlloClip lens will give your smartphone telephoto abilities.

The OlloClip lens will give your smartphone telephoto abilities.

Fragment your world

The Anamorphic Adapter lens.

The Anamorphic Adapter lens.

How-To: Shot Variety

Shot variety is essential for making your video stand out to customers on our platform. Learn the tricks of the trade in this video tutorial by our video producer James.

THE STRINGR BLOG

One of the best ways to be a successful stringr is to capture a variety of shots. This will help you shoot a sequence that will tie together nicely.

But capturing a sequence isn’t always necessary. Shooting a variety of wide, medium and close shots, gives editors more to work with.

No matter what the request is, begin by working around the location. If you are close to the subject, work your way backwards. If you are far, work your way forward. To begin, record a variety of shots moving in one direction.

Once you have several wide shots, take a few steps forwards and repeat that process, shooting several medium shots while moving in the other direction.

After shooting at least three different shots in each phase, step closer and do another pass capturing close shots.

Finally, after gathering a number of different wide, medium and close shots, capture…

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Children on the Spotlight: Ethics on how to film children

Filming kids in public can get you into muddy waters when it comes to journalistic ethics. In this blog post, we’ll explain how to make sure you’re not breaking the law in this situation.

THE STRINGR BLOG

By Nilda Melissa Diaz

Receiving a request from Stringr often, if not always, means that you will be filming complete strangers. People going about their day at a street fair, sports fans tailgating, passersby after a vehicular collision etc. The law is on your side as you can record people as long as they are in public areas, such as sidewalks and streets. But what should you do when it comes to filming children?

PHOTO CREATIVE COMMONS LIC.

Children טף

Children and minors are not exempt from being recorded and photographed in public places. But the general consensus in the media is to proceed with caution; they’re seen as vulnerable human beings. This is why B-roll often includes the back of their heads, their legs or a somewhat blurred image.

The Ethical Journalism Initiative (EJI), “a global campaign of programs and activities to support and strengthen quality in media”, launched in…

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How-To: Shoot Interviews

Shooting interviews is an essential skill for any Stringr. Check out our easy tips for acing MOS and other types of interviews in this video blog.

THE STRINGR BLOG

Before pressing record, you NEED to always think about your subjects position within the setting. How is the light? What is the light source, Is it too dark or too light? What about the surrounding audio, Is it noisy or near something that can make noise?

Knowing the answer to these questions will enable you to quickly adapt to any situation, whether you are shooting inside or outside.

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When you see a video request from Stringr, sometimes we’ll ask for interviews. Interviews, sound bites or SOTS as they are called in the news business are important because it allows those on the scene to share their perspective.

This makes knowing HOW to shoot a basic interview a key skill if you want to be a great videographer.

Here are the basics.  Let’s start with…

Sit-down interviews

When shooting a sit down interview you can set up lights or utilize…

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How-To: Shoot Tilts & Pans

Check out this short video blog on adding tilts and pans to your shot – if executed well, your footage will instantly look professional.

THE STRINGR BLOG

Adding movement to your shots can be a nice touch, but it can also completely ruin them. Using pans and tilts in your shots gives your footage a higher level of quality and shows your skill as a camera operator. While static shots are great, throwing in some smooth movement can make your footage exciting and stand out from the rest.

Using a pan is perfect for adding lateral movement to your shots. Pans can be used to show how wide a scene or setting is. Pans are great for tracking or following a subject that is moving. To capture a nice pan start with a static shot and then slowly turn your camera either left or right. Once you reach the end of the scene, hold the shot steady again.

Tilting the camera either up or down can help show the height of the setting. Tilts are also great…

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How-to: Convert Video Files

Ever have trouble converting your video files while you’re uploading to Stringr? We have the answers to your questions here.

THE STRINGR BLOG

At Stringr, we often get asked which video formats are accepted for uploading. We accept all major video file formats, including AVI, AAC, FLV, MP4, 3MG and MOV. However, if you find yourself with a format that we do not accept, there are many ways to convert your files into one that we do.

If you are shooting with a smartphone, there are several apps available for download that can convert your files within your phone. iConvt/MConverter/The Video Converter all offer a variety of different file conversion options. Simply open the app, import the footage, tap the file and convert. Select advance and choose the settings you want to use. The file will convert and you are done.

If you download your footage to your computer, there are endless ways to convert your files, whether it be online or a software on your computer. Online, we recommend using the website…

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