Advanced Video Tips
Ready to take your videos to the next level?
Picture of a hand holding a phone taking a video of a BMW with the BMW in the background

If you’re just starting out with video, I’d suggest watching Ten Tips for Better Video first. Eliminate these simple errors from your videos before implementing these suggestions. There is a lot here, so we’ve provided some shortcuts to the topics:


Nothing in that Ten Tips video costs a dime. It’s all about a little know-how and a bit of effort. But to take things to the next level, a small investment may be required.

Each of the items below is relatively inexpensive, but any one of them will improve your videos. Taken all together, these will transform your videos. Our recommendations assume that you’re sticking with your phone as the camera. With the iPhone 12 Pro (and up) able to shoot 4K video in Dolby Vision HDR, there is little reason to use anything else. If you do decide to step up to an actual camera, the principles still apply, but the hardware will be different (and probably more expensive).

These items are listed in order of impact on your video quality, from most to least (but they all offer noticeable improvements).

An External Microphone

Tips 5 & 6 of the Ten Tips video were about sound. Bad sound can make a visually solid video seem terrible. The built-in mic on phones and cameras is quite excellent… up close. But you’ll often be farther away, like when showing a whole car. That’s when a separate mic is needed.

Shotgun Mic

What it is: A shotgun mic is a directional microphone, meaning it picks up the sounds in the direction it’s pointed (at you!), while minimizing other sounds. Dealerships (inside and out) can be noisy, so this is an essential piece of kit to help you be heard clearly.

Considerations: Since you may be filming outdoors, make sure the mic you choose has an available (or included) wind screen. A shockmount is nice, too, to minimize handling noise from whomever is holding the phone or camera. There are phone-specific mics that plug into Lightning or USB-C ports, but the Lightning port may be phased out eventually, so that might not be the best, future-proof option.

Some Choices: The MOVO VXR10 is just $40 and includes a shock mount and windscreen. For a slightly better unit, consider Rode, which makes similar units in the $50-75 range (and up). Sennheiser’s MKE400 is $200 for a more professional unit.

Movo shotgun microphone

Lavaliere Mic

What it is: A lavaliere (or just “lav”, sounds like “lava” without the second “a”), is a clip-on mic.

Considerations: Lav mics tend to pick up more background noise, but since they’re mounted close to your mouth, it isn’t as much of an issue.  They do tend to be visible and some people don’t like that look. Lav mics come in wired and wireless versions. A wired version is okay if you’re sitting at the computer (it’s a great “Zoom” choice), but if you’re up and around while recording a video, you’ll want to be wireless.

Some Choices: MOVO, again, makes low-end wired units that can be found on Amazon for $15. For use at your desk, the difference in sound is worth it. Wireless options cost more, starting at about $100 with good pro-sumer versions costing $200-$300 or more. Pro-level units start at $500 and go up (way up!) from there.

A lavaliere microphone

Other Mic Considerations

Whatever you choose, make sure you can plug it in to whatever you are using for filming. Between XLR, USB and 3.5mm cables, it is possible to buy a microphone that doesn’t plug directly into your device. The Sennheiser MKE 200 & 400 come with cables for phones and cameras, but keep in mind your phone may required an adapter cable, too.

Wide Angle Lens

A wide angle lens takes in more of the view, which is helpful in several ways. First, if the view is wider, then whoever is holding the camera has to stand closer to you, which also means better audio (with or without a shotgun mic).  Second, if you’re doing some selfie shots, a wider view is a lot less awkward because your big head isn’t filling the entire screen. For in-car, it’s essential. With a standard lens, you simply can’t get the camera far enough back to take in very much of the interior.

The easiest way to get a wider angle is to get a newer phone. In recent years, Apple and Samsung have added wider angle lenses to their camera setup. This might be all you need.

We use Moment lenses ( or on Amazon) for two reasons. First, they are made from top-notch glass. As a result, they are a tad pricey (about $130 each), but that’s still cheap for a quality lens. Second, they mount to a dedicated phone case rather than just clipping on as some do. The cases are nice quality and offer decent protection for not much more than a typical case ($50). We just got an iPhone 12 Pro and, with a new case, the lenses still fit. And we can combine our Moment lens with any of the phone’s built-in lenses for additional focal lengths.

Sandmarc ( makes a similar setup. It’s a bit less expensive and supports filters (real, physical ones, not the SnapChat kind). We haven’t tried them, but would strongly consider that choice if we were starting from scratch.

A phone with add-on lens


This one helps nail Tip #8, “Handle with Care”. When you’re walking around a car or going for a drive, excess camera movement (a.k.a.. “shaky cam”) can distract from your message. There are lots of handheld stabilizers that can keep your camera from having jerky movements. Recently some very good motorized gimbals have becomes available from makers like DJI and Zhiyun starting well below $100.

These products have been developing so rapidly that we won’t make a specific recomendation, but this is a worthwhile investment if you’re doing a lot of handheld work. Be prepared to practice! It takes a little time before you (or your camera operator) are good enough to use these for videos to be viewed by the public.


Given the state of apps today, you may not need to purchase software. But you definitely need to use some. Let’s look at what you can do with some video software and add-ons.

Upgrade Your App

The camera app that comes with a phone is decent, but it’s meant to be simple. To elevate your video quality, you need a better app. With a good app, you can manually control things like focus, exposure, frame rate, resolution, audio levels and video quality.

Imagine you’re filming a walkaround on the showroom. You start with your back to the interior of the store. As you walk around the car, the background shifts. At some point there is a bright window behind you. Suddenly you are a shadow! The camera is now exposing for the brighter scene. With an app, you can lock exposure on you so it doesn’t change.

This is just one example. The truth is, when the phone’s built-in camera app is set to “automatic”, most of the time it will do a decent job. But as you get better at making videos, you will want some control because you know better than “automatic” does. A third-party, dedicated video app will give you that control.

Edit Your Video

Learn how to edit. The best videos (and this goes for movies, too) move quickly. Find and cut boring sections from your videos. When videos get boring (slow), people tune out. Your viewer missed everything that came after the point where they left. Sounds obvious, right? Did they miss some good stuff? If not, you should have cut it. If it was, you need to cut the junk that kept them from getting to the end. Your video should be as short as possible without losing the message.

The built-in phone apps provide very simple editing. Mac OS and Windows offer basic desktop packages that do a little more. If you have outgrown those, more advanced desktop software usually starts around $100.

We use Apple’s Final Cut Pro X ($299). It’s overkill for some of our projects, but sometimes we need the advanced features. iMovie has lots of the same features and is free on Mac computers.

Add Graphics

Add some text, like an introductory title. Show your name and contact information in a corner of the screen or across the bottom. If you have a logo for your personal brand, make sure to show that. Graphics and moving titles spice things up, look professional and provide additional information to the viewer. Even free editing software can do basic titles and animate a graphic. If you need more, upgrade to better software.

Edit Your Sound

Remember, bad sound can make a good video seem awful, so don’t neglect your sound. Use a good mic and then, at minimum, adjust the sound level while editing so that it is consistent with the other videos you have posted (and with other videos on the Internet, period). You don’t want your videos blaring at your customers but you don’t want the sound to be low so that they can’t hear you. Find the Goldilocks level and get it just right.

For the really advanced, add some noise reduction. Videos shot on a showroom floor or outside will always have some noise in the background. Good noise reduction software can make a huge difference. Some video editing software will have a noise reduction filter built in. Use it sparingly, though, because if it’s too aggressive, it will make you sound weird.

We use iZotope RX, a pro-level audio tool that works inside our video editor. The “Elements” version starts at $129, but does go on sale periodically (

Add Music

Having some appropriate music under your video adds a level of professionalism. Make sure the soundtrack goes with the video–don’t just grab any music. And make sure the level is loud enough to be heard, but not so loud that it interfere’s with you being heard.

YouTube offers some free background music. Another free option with more choices is You can download individual tracks for free or bulk tracks for a nominal free ($10-$25). These are not only free to use, but require no attribution (credit).

Another free option is Incompetech ( from Kevin MacLeod. While you need to credit the artist on your videos, there are over 2000 tracks(!) which you can download individually for free. Or get them all for $38. That was an investment we thought was worth it. Some of these tracks are even used in the Accelerate and Elevate training classes for BMW Group University.

Keep Growing!

If you need an excuse to watch YouTube, simply viewing videos can be instructional. See what others are doing and then 1) Avoid their mistakes, 2) Replicate what they do well, and 3) Make yours even better! And, of course, there are thousands of tutorials there, too.


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