Professional Video vs. Cell Phone Video for Marketing [Pros and Cons]

Video marketing

You’ve probably seen commercials for Apple where they proudly boast “Shot on iPhone”.

The ads are beautifully composed, lit, shot, and produced, suggesting to the average business owner that they too can shoot their own videos, marketing or otherwise, on their mobile device, saving them the cost of hiring a video production company.

However, what the commercials aren’t telling you is that, yes, they were shot on an iPhone, but they were also shot with a professional crew of grips, gaffers, a lighting director, producer, audio tech, and director of photography. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for shooting video content on your phone. It depends on what the content is and how you’re using it.

In this article, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of cell phone video and professionally shot video so you can better determine how to capture your marketing assets depending on your budget, timeline, and audience.

Shooting Cell Phone Video

Thanks to the surge in smartphone use, it feels like anyone can be a videographer. While this is true, when it comes to producing professional marketing assets, cell phone video may not be the route to take. Here’s a breakdown of some pros and cons of cell phone video:

 

Pros

Cons

Inexpensive

Limited storage

Access

Audio

Compact

Zoom capabilities

Small learning curve

Inexperienced operator

Mobile phones have really upped their game when it comes to their cameras. Many now have 4K capabilities with multiple lenses, so the quality of a cell phone video is much better than only a few years ago.

Pros of Cell Phone Video

1. Inexpensive

Inexpensive is a very relative term. A new iPhone 11 Pro can set you back more than a thousand dollars which isn’t exactly chump change but compared to a good DSLR it’s still a cheaper option.

2. Access

It’s safe to assume you likely have more access to a smartphone than a professional camera. Of course, your phone might be several years old without all the bells and whistles you’d like, but it’s still a camera that can capture HD footage good enough for your 30-seconds-of-inspiration video. In fact, you can start cranking out content right now if you choose.

3. Compact

Compared to a professional camera setup, your mobile device is tiny. It can fit in your pocket. This allows you a lot of shooting flexibility. Mount it on a selfie stick? No problem. Mount it to a skateboard? Easy-peasy! Don’t have a tripod? Big deal; you’ll just lean it up against a pile of books.

4. Small Learning Curve

Most phone cameras aren’t rocket science. For the most part, they’re a variation of point-and-shoot. You don’t have to worry about white-balancing, iris control, and other features that professional cameras have.

But for all their simplicity and benefits there are also drawbacks to shooting things yourself on your cell phone.

Cons of Cell Phone Video

1. Limited Storage

Videos take up a lot of data storage, especially if you’re shooting 4K. Shooting in 4K can consume 300-400 MB of storage per minute of video. That’s about 1GB every three minutes or so.

This isn’t a problem if you don’t keep photos, music, or any other videos on your phone. You probably do have those other things on your phone, however, so what you’d likely have to shoot, download, shoot, download, etc. and that can get irritating fast.

2. Audio

Unless the person you’re shooting is standing literally a foot away from your phone, the audio is going to sound lousy. This is because phone manufacturers build them with an emphasis on the camera and not the sound quality.

While people might not necessarily stop watching your video because of poor audio quality, a survey found that clear audio was the most common element of videos that were deemed “great videos.”

An alternative to improving the audio quality of a cell phone video is to buy professional microphones and the necessary adaptors.

3. Zoom Capabilities

Generally speaking, your zoom is as smooth as your finger is steady sliding across the device’s zoom controls. In other words, not very.

More often than not, you’ll set your zoom length and then shoot your scene without zooming in or out during the shot because it simply won’t look smooth.

While a more static composition isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can become a bit boring for the viewer.

Video marketing cell phone

4. Inexperienced Operator

There’s something to understanding the basics of video composition and lighting.

If you’re just trying to capture a clip of yourself talking with the phone held at arm’s reach, you don’t need to concern yourself much in the way of composition.

If you’re shooting an interview or a narrative scene, you will get what you paid for the camera operator.

Low cost = low production value.

The magic of post-production can help elevate a final product, but there’s only so much that can be done with an original clip that is blurry, shaky, or has poor audio quality.

When to Use Cell Phone Video for Marketing Assets

As earlier mentioned, there is a time and place for cell phone video in your marketing strategy, the main one being social media.

If you’re shooting video for social media, it’s generally acceptable if the video quality isn’t top-notch. A more spontaneous, authentic look and feel is okay. In fact, sometimes it’s preferred.

Videos on Instagram (and the new Instagram Reels function), Tik Tok, and Snapchat, which appeal to a younger demographic, are seldom polished. The vast majority are grainy, shaky, with poor audio quality. It’s mainly because videos of this nature are disposable. They’re watched and forgotten. It’s quantity over quality.

Entrepreneur and serial social media poster Gary Vaynerchuck, or Gary V, cranks out video content at a staggering pace, and just about every clip is shot on a phone. He is a huge proponent of the fire hose approach to social marketing. For his particular brand, it works well.

Cell phone videos or webcam videos have become more widely accepted for professional use in the age of COVID-19 and remote working. Even so, we’d still recommend putting forth the highest-quality version to attract and delight your target audience.

There’s also a big difference between posting 15-second videos shot in your car or living room and a two-minute marketing video aimed at CEOs, CFOs, and CMOs of Fortune 500 companies.

That’s where paying for professional video production will most likely give you a better return on investment.

Investing in a Professional Video

Going with a professional video team is for those who are more interested in quality and producing content that they feel reflects their level of professionalism and target audience.

ProsCons
Polished productCost
End-to-end servicesTurnaround time
Experience 

Here’s a deeper dive into the pros and cons of going this route.

Pros of a Professional Video

1. Polished Product

You’re paying top dollar to get top dollar results. Since videos are frequently the first exposure for a company, like an explainer video, for example, you want to make sure that the first impression is a favorable one.

Shooting low-budget, low-quality videos might be okay for social media posts, but for marketing, explainer, and training videos, it’s important for companies to be taken seriously and seen as completely professional.

In these circumstances, going with a proven team of video professionals will always be in your best interest.

2. End-to-End Services

When you’re hiring a production team, you’re getting exactly that, a team.

A production coordinator, producer, director of photography, storyboard artist, copywriters, and whatever other roles that need to be filled to give you a first-rate product.

A video production company also covers all stages of the video-making process from pre-production to production and post-production.

You’re hiring them to do all the heavy lifting so you can focus on running your business. You’re paying to lower your level of stress and inconvenience.

3. Experience

You know the old saying, you don’t hire an electrician to do your plumbing. You’re hiring the right person for the right job and paying to make sure you’re getting just that.

An experienced production team has spent countless hours writing scripts, lighting sets, and editing and shooting videos. It’s become second nature for them. They know just how to make the end product look its best and also know if there are ways to cut costs. This brings us to our first drawback …

Cons of a Professional Video

1. Cost

It’s no secret that cost is frequently a roadblock and hiring video professionals is a substantial investment.

However, video marketing has been proven to provide a healthy return on investment, so it depends on if you’re looking at immediate costs or at the bigger picture.

Plus, there are several ways to shoot and produce a video on a budget, so long as you find the right production company that is willing to meet your needs.

Also, there’s the argument that producing your own videos can be costly, too, depending on the equipment, software, and manpower needed to create a final product you’d be excited to share with potential customers.

2. Turnaround Time

If you choose to shoot something yourself and you’re not overly concerned with the quality, you can knock out your video as quickly as you choose to.

With a professional production, there is a more deliberate timeline.

Depending on the size of the project your video could take anywhere from a couple of weeks to two months to produce. The timeline is reliant on things like the amount of scriptwriting that needs to be done; how many stakeholders have to weigh in on the approval process; are there any design elements or animation that needs to be created; will actors be needed, and if so how much time will be needed for auditions; will location permits be needed? There can be a laundry list of factors that can affect the turnaround time.

However, we’ll bring it back around to some of the pros of a professional video. A video production company offers end-to-end services and experience that is often worth the extra time and consideration to put forth a professional, final product.

When to Use Professional Video for Marketing Assets

This is coming from a video production company, so naturally, our answer to this question is all the time!

Professional marketing videos can elevate your business, build brand recognition, improve your SEO, and engage your target audience in whichever form they come in:

  • Explainer videos
  • Company culture videos
  • Behind-the-scenes videos
  • Testimonials and case study videos
  • How-to and tutorial videos
  • Product videos
  • Webinar/vlog videos
  • Event videos
  • Email videos

Producing Marketing Videos for Your Business

Whether you go with quick one-off iPhone videos for your Instagram page or a more polished professional approach for your website, the important thing is that you already recognize the value of video content.

Video never sleeps. It’s always out there ready to make an impression or persuade someone to take a particular action.

Perhaps the most compelling argument I can make for going with a professional video production company is that your video is a direct reflection of your brand. If you want to position your brand as one of quality, it’s best your marketing materials, including videos, reflect that image.

This post was originally published on VMG Studios.