Cellphones have become extremely powerful and capable and more widely used than desktops for consuming content. Social media usage is rising quickly (and 90% of social media users are using their phones to access it). Digital media trainer with Social Weaver, Michael Salzwedel shared a couple of his tricks and ideas on producing mobile journalism video for beginners during the African Investigative Journalism Conference in Johannesburg.

Salzwedel said that mobile, as a medium for journalism, is growing quickly because more powerful phones with better cameras, fewer storage issues, faster networks, cheaper data and soon, longer-lasting batteries are being developed. “But, the tech is just a means to an end, creating good content is still all about THE STORY,”.

He suggested that journalists should think of a mojo story as making a cake.

“You have the ingredients (shots, elements), tools (apps, equipment) and method (sequence, timeline) and you must ask yourself, why am I making this ‘cake’? What is my vision for it? and who is it for?” he said.

Answering these questions will help you produce the best mojo video story.


Tips and Tricks:

Salzwedel said, before shooting your mojo story consider where you will be posting it. Will it be published on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube? This will help you determine the length of your video.

When editing this video consider catering for a non-audio audience and using text overlays and making it short and snappy to keep them engaged.

He said a great example of ‘editing for social media is this Spur video in South Africa of an altercation between restaurant patrons by Al Jazeera+, because it attributes the source, it provides key info, uses text overlays (subtitles and key quotes), and includes dramatic music.


This video is short, snappy and includes tweets to add more context and different voices for the story. AJ+ made key mobile considerations like making it square and making sure the video made sense without sound.


What equipment do you need to shoot and edit a mojo video story?

You need a suitable smartphone and/or tablet, with a good camera, a power bank because shooting a video takes a lot of the phone’s battery. You need a storage card because HD video uses a lot of storage. For your audio, consider buying an affordable lapel clip-on microphone or other microphones which are compatible with smartphones. When recording, use headphones to make sure the sound is good. Always use a tripod in order for your video to be stable. Also consider buying clip-on lenses such as fisheye, wide, macro, or telephoto.


The best Techniques and Planning for a mojo

To produce a great video, Salzwedel suggests that you follow these eleven commandments of mojo.

  1. Put your phone on flight mode to avoid interruptions.
  2. Make sure you have plenty of battery and storage space before you shoot.
  3. Generally, shoot landscape (but vertical can work too).
  4. Try to get a variety of different shot types.
  5. Keep light behind you (illuminating subject) if possible.
  6. Consider mobile users on small screens — try to keep subjects large in the frame.
  7. Hold still! For extra stability, use a selfie stick or tuck your elbows into your body, with feet shoulder-width apart.
  8. Avoid zooming (experiment with cropping for tighter shots).
  9. Test and check your audio levels.
  10. Avoid blocking your microphone and camera with your fingers.
  11. Have fun.

Editing a mojo

When it comes to editing your mojo, find an editing app suitable for your phone and follow the tips below. We’ve also reviewed three mojo editing apps that you could consider.

  • Add ingredients to timeline (video, photo, audio).
  • Trim / split clips.
  • Add subtitles.
  • Add other text (with animations).
  • Colour adjustment / filters.
  • Volume / levels / envelopes.
  • Adding motion using cropping
  • Transitions (cross-fade)
  • Voiceovers
  • Record new clip/photo
  • Add new audio/video layer
  • Export settings: resolution, bitrate, framerate

All these ingredients will help you in producing a compelling story on your cellphone.

For those interested, you can join the Facebook group #mojofest Community where the global community meet and share.

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