5 Ways To Shoot Great Video For IGTV, Expert Advice

I admit this is one of those blog posts that is as much about me, as it is about you. I want to learn how to make short films, but have almost no clue what I am doing. It’s been on my mind for a while, but the launch of Instagram’s brand new video platform IGTV has pushed it right to the top of my To-Do list.


I sensed a collective sigh among many Instagram users when IGTV was launched. It sounded a bit like ‘please, not more content that I have to create’. So here’s why, if you are unsure, I think IGTV might just be worth the effort…There are some scary stats out there on the growth in consumption of video content by people on their mobile phones. It accounts for a third of online activity at the moment, and that proportion is only predicted to rise. Keep an eye on the future. I’ve linked here to some more statistics on video from online advertising agency Wordstream.

Vertical TV

So this post is full of tips on how to start creating decent quality films for Instagram.  Film and social media geeks will know that IGTV has caused a stir because the footage is shown in a vertical (upright, phone-shaped) screen. Not like in the movies. So all of this advice is intended to be used in that way, with your camera phone set to portrait, not landscape.

Over to my friend Lottie Stevenson who has generously agreed to share some of her secrets with us. Lottie is a filmmaker, who teaches filmmaking and creates videos for businesses, click here to check out her website.

Lottie’s 5 ways to take instantly better vertical video

Vertical filming is still a new game, but if you want to take your video to the next level for IGTV, there are a few tricks I use that will immediately improve your content. 

1. A little bit of kit

Get a small portable tripod with a mobile phone mount you can rotate to film vertically – not all of them do, so double-check before you buyHaving a small tripod you can just chuck in a bag is a game changer. It means you can film hands-free, and feature in some of your own videos. Steady shots will upgrade your films and set you apart from all the shaky amateur footage out there. You can also use it as a bit of a selfie stick extension if you are talking to the camera.

The tripod Lottie is using in these pictures is a GorillaPod with this phone mount.

2. Fill your frame

Small screen real estate is valuable, so don’t be afraid to use it all. Get your camera right up close to the action, and then move in some more. Even though the video quality on mobile phones is incredible, many now film in 4K, the detail of all that high definition footage is often lost when you are watching on a mobile screen. So while breath-taking landscapes and wide shots are still worth getting, it is close ups that can be really powerful on this platform.

Take advantage of being able to get great detail, and focus on capturing those interesting aspects of what you are filming, the things that tell a story

3. People please people

We engage more deeply with videos that have people in them, so get them in your films! It might feel less intimidating to shoot images without our fellow humans, but remember you don’t need to film someone top to toe. Sometimes a foot walking past or a hand stirring a saucepan can be enough to create that connection. And if you are nervous about filming others, just try to get yourself in a few shots to start with. Glad you got that tripod now, aren’t you?!

And while we are being brave, when you are thinking about what to shoot be more you.

One of the joys of film-making is that you can show the audience your own unique perspective. You know when you see something and think “that looks so cool.” Film that! The shadows playing across your living room wall, or the stack of vintage books on a market stall, not everyone else will notice those things. This is your opportunity to show people how you see the world. Not into flowers? Don’t film them. Love cooking? Shoot that! Film what you care about and what interests you, and you will create stand out videos full of personality. 

If you need encouragement to appear in your own videos then read this blog post which is full of advice from some rather brilliant women.

4. Think upright

Creating a vertical video might take a bit of getting used to. You need to train your eye to think about framing your shots in the most effective way. Start looking for strong vertical elements around you. Tall buildings, lines leading upwards, standing people, trees. Even though the shape of your frame is narrow and tall, the composition is still really important. Think about how you can use the vertical shape to add drama and energy to your images. 

5. Edit like an expert (but easier)

I edit short films on my phone on the InShot app. It’s so intuitive. And free! Just a few quid to upgrade and lose the watermark. I like the layout and the edit options are great. You can add text, filters and music. It is everything you need to get started.

What's your View?

7 comments on “5 Ways To Shoot Great Video For IGTV, Expert Advice

  1. Fiona on

    Another Gem! I’m totally impressed how you’re taking NAtK – love your style of writing, your honesty and understanding of the way ‘now’ works. Sharing all the way. Amazing.

  2. @not_about_the_kids2017 on

    Fiona what a lovely comment, thank you! I’m just delighted if you are getting something out of my posts, thanks so much for reading. Hx

  3. @not_about_the_kids2017 on

    Hey Prash, thanks for stopping by for a read. Glad that you found it useful, I’ll expect to see some of your IGTV videos soon….:) Hx

  4. Juliana Sylvester on

    Fab post Helen! I haven’t watched a lot of IGTV yet, but I’m sure it will supplement the people I follow in much the same way as stories does at the moment. Funnily enough I’ve been trying to do more vertical filming on my phone for my highlights such as the 15 seconds bits and it’s actually quite difficult as you don’t get the same width of perspective – it’s definitely a skill to practice! Thanks for all your research and tips.

  5. @not_about_the_kids2017 on

    I will be interested to see how long it takes before watching IGTV becomes part of our routine (if indeed it does). I think the vertical aspect is particularly challenging for people who already make film, as they are used to shooting horizontally. As beginners, we can learn vertical from scratch. Thanks so much for reading, Hxxx

  6. Olivia Jackson on

    Digging this out as I’m about to film my first IGTV, I knew you’d have all the great tips Helen! I already have a gorillapod with the phone mount due to your recommendation before too.

    Olivia xx

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