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Parenting Tip: Using the iPhone to record videos of your children

In a recent Parenting tip, I discussed photographing your children using your iPhone. Today, I am going to expand on that article and give you some tips on taking videos of your children. The iPhone is always in my pocket, which makes it perfect for capturing a quick video of my children doing something memorable.

Over the years, the quality of the videos recorded by the iPhone has steadily improved. The iPhone 4 is capable of recording 720p HD video at up to 30 frames per second with audio, while both the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5 bump up the video quality to 1080p HD. You don't have the dedicated microphone jack and 50x zoom you would find in consumer-grade video cameras, but for most purposes, the iPhone is just fine for taking fantastic home videos.

As I mentioned in my photo tips, I am not a pro photographer by any means, just a mom who has picked up some tips and tricks from using the iPhone as her primary camera. If you have your own suggestions, please share them in the comments.

Get the best light possible

Photographing kids in dim light is hard and shooting video of them is almost impossible. So many times, a wonderful clip of my child dancing like a fool has been ruined because I forget to turn on the overhead light. The iPhone just doesn't do well in low light -- videos are shadowy and the subjects are too dark. You can use the flash, but I find that the always-on flash overbrightens the area and causes your subject to squint if they look at your phone. For the best videos, turn on the lights or take your children outside in the sun.

Give your video camera a few minutes to start up

Unlike photos which can be captured within a few seconds, the video camera takes some time to fire up. You have to open the camera app, tap on the video camera and wait for the software to switch modes before you can press the record button. Depending on your iPhone model, it can take up to 30 seconds for all these steps. Plan accordingly or you will always be capturing your child's back as they run past you, instead of their smiling face as they run towards you.

Alternatively, you can use the Camera app's ability to remember its last state to your advantage. Turn on the video camera before you want to shoot a clip and it will be ready to record the next time you open the Camera app.

Take more footage than you need

Always record more footage then you think you will need. Inevitably, you will stop a video early and your child will flash a smile that melts your heart and you will kick yourself for not leaving the camera on. If you capture more video than you need, you can always trim the video using the Photos app in iOS. For more advanced editing, you can download iMovie.

Don't shoot in portrait

Always, always, always remember to rotate your phone and shoot video in landscape mode, unless, of course, you are shooting portrait on purpose as a creative effect. A few years ago, my daughter participated in a pig scramble and captured a pig. My husband captured the event with his iPhone. He was in a rush and recorded the whole clip in portrait. We've tried watching the video a few times, but the action is so fast and the field of view so narrow that you really can't watch much more than 30 seconds of the clip without getting frustrated.

Don't forget to take photos, too

iOS 6 allows you to take photos at the same time you are recording a video. Just tap the camera icon when a video is recording to capture a photo.

Experiment

Play around with the video camera, get comfortable using it in different conditions and experiment. Most of all, have fun while you are capturing memories of your children that will last a lifetime.

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