DIY Video with the League of Women Voters


Smartphone video
Smartphone video filmed by Jignasha of the League of Women Voters

AVC provided consultation and video editing for the League of Women Voters. Volunteers used their smart phones to record short videos to explain the local ballot measures. Jignasha, shown above, used a Google Pixel 2XL with afternoon lighting from her windows. She positioned herself to block light from the window behind her.

Smartphone video
Smartphone video filmed by Katie from League of Women Voters

Katie used an iPhone 6s and positioned herself in front of a window during the day. All the volunteers sat close enough to their phones that they didn’t need to use an external microphone. They managed to use either window light or lighting from what they had in their homes.

AVC suggested that the presenters prop their phones on books so they are eye level.  They turned their phones to “do not disturb” and made sure their phones were well charged. In some cases they needed to clear some space to accommodate video file sizes.

With Covid, we could not film the volunteers in the studio, so we agreed that they would use their phone cameras at home. The League of Women Voters of Oakland chose AVC Video for each election since 2016 to make short videos on local ballot measures. The League remains neutral, and the videos show the pros and cons of each proposition.

Here are the 2020 videos

Watch videos from the 2018 election and the 2016 election.

Read below to see the smartphone instructions we sent to the on-camera volunteers:

Here is the blog for looking your best on camera. The main concern is avoid wearing a top with fine stripes or fine patterns.

RECORDING VIDEOS WITH YOUR SMART PHONES: A guide for volunteers of the League of Women Voters

  • Volunteers may email me their recordings. If the file is too large for email, use Google Drive or, which is a free file sharing program.
  • Use earbuds or microphone if possible. Otherwise, position yourself close enough to your phone so audio is optimal.
  • Position the camera-phone on books so it is eye-level. Use the top book to lean the phone on (see photo below). Look at the lens as much as possible.
  • Record with the phone horizontal and with the record button to your right.
  • You can place the script above or below the camera.
  • Try to face a window or soft lights for good, even lighting.
  • If you make a mistake, please go back one or two sentences. Don’t repeat only a part of a sentence.
  • Leave “handles” which means to record a second or two at the beginning and end of each scene and continue to look at the lens.
Use books to prop up your smart phone


  • The client wrote the script; it had columns and scene separations. I should have numbered the scenes and started another scene on the next page. Some scenes continued onto the following pages; it causes the reader to make noise flipping pages.
  • Clear some files on their phones for the video recording. One person ran out of space.
  • Make sure you are recording in video, and play back the scenes to confirm they are good. One person sent some jpgs instead of MOV or MP4 files.
  • Slate each scene and take by stating, for example, “Scene 3 take 2.”
  • Note which are good takes, and send the editor a list of scene numbers with the good take numbers.
  • It is good practice to save video recordings to your computer and then upload from it.


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