Video production for a “mobile-first” world

Here’s what you need to know to create video content that looks great and is effective -- no matter the device.


  Increasingly, websites are being designed “mobile first” to ensure that the mobile experience is seamless. It’s just as important to make sure that the video content on those sites is optimized for the mobile experience.

Increasingly, websites are being designed “mobile first” to ensure that the mobile experience is seamless. It’s just as important to make sure that the video content on those sites is optimized for the mobile experience.

In the early days of smartphones, consumers often struggled to navigate the web -- as most websites were designed for the desktop. Over time, many companies invested in separate mobile-specific sites (often with “m.” URLs). While this solved the problem for consumers, it required more work to manage two separate sites and could sometimes cause confusion for visitors.

Times have changed. With over half of all internet traffic now coming from mobile devices and the adoption of “responsive design,” most companies have returned to supporting a single site that adapts to the size and orientation of a user’s device. Increasingly, these sites are being designed “mobile first” to ensure that the mobile experience is not handicapped. Likewise, it’s just as important to make sure that the video content on those sites is optimized for the mobile experience. 

Here’s what you need to know to create video content that looks great and is effective -- no matter the device.

Smaller screens

Mobile devices are considerably smaller than laptop or desktop screens. Therefore, wide angle shots often do not provide enough product detail. In a mobile-first word, it’s important to capture tight shots as well as close-ups that provide detail on the product’s features, use, material, etc. Likewise, if you are going to include any text callouts or graphics, make sure they are large enough to be read on a smaller device.   

Multiple aspect ratios

Until a couple years ago, nearly all video for the web was shot in a landscape (horizontal) orientation with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Older videos, shot in 4:3, would usually appear with “pillarboxes” (black bars on the sides) as they still do on YouTube. However, as video has made its way into different mobile applications, different aspect ratios have emerged.  For instance Instagram famously popularized square videos (1:1) and Snapchat made vertical video (9:16) a more common standard. As video becomes more popular on these platforms (and others including Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn), we are seeing a similar variety of aspect ratios for different types of ad units that are meant to blend more naturally into the app’s UX. Even if your video’s primary destination is not a social site or ad unit, you’ll find that b-roll or other snippets of your content can easily be used to create derivative assets for social and advertising. Therefore, it’s important to frame your shots with these use cases in mind.

No audio

While it’s always been important to include closed captions for those who are hard of hearing, in today’s mobile-first video environment, it’s much more likely for your average user to benefit from text callouts or subtitles, because they are watching videos on their smartphones without sound.

How likely? Recent research suggests that 85% of videos on Facebook are watched without the sound. If you want to get your video message across to people while they are in a public place with their phones muted, you have to incorporate subtitles and visual text callouts that reinforce the visuals. Likewise, if your video is going “autoplay” as an ad or in a news feed, it will likely be muted by default. Finally, as mentioned before, when adding text call outs, remember that mobile device screens are smaller and the text needs to be larger than what you might consider in a desktop setting.

At Invodo, years of experience creating video content for some of the world’s top retailers and brands has given us a strong understanding of what it takes to create videos optimized for every shopper touchpoint -- across a variety of devices and platforms. For more information about how we can help optimize your video content for mobile channels, get in touch with us directly


Justin Vallejo