Chris Stobing is a writer and blogger from the heart of Silicon Valley. His work has appeared in PCMag and Digital Trends, and he’s served as Managing Editor of Gadget Review. Read more.
Making movies on your smartphone has always been simple, but more often than not you can expect that the quality will suffer because of shaky images, out-of-focus lenses, and sound that’s better left to the deaf. Now all that can change with the help of some unique hardware and cleverly designed software that makes it easier than ever before to create studio-quality movies with nothing more than the iPhone in your pocket.
Sure, you may never be able to get an IMAX-ready flick out of it, but with these clever add-ons and professional-grade editing apps, you might just be the next big director in Hollywood without even realizing it yet.
Just imagine what Spielberg or Scorsese could have done if they had the kind of technology we have available to us today?
Starting Out with a Quality Set of Lenses
Out of all the options we’ve listed here, additional lens attachments are where you’ll probably be dropping the most cash, and for good reason too. The iPhone camera is good enough on its own, but with these add-on lenses, you can step your moviemaking game up far beyond anything else that your family might record in their free time.
Depending on the kind of movie you’re shooting, you can choose from everything like the lower-end CamKix lens set which comes with a fisheye lens, wide-angle, telephoto zoom (8x), and macro attachment all for just $34.95. The kit also comes equipped with a mini-tripod for stable shots, as well as a microfiber cleaning cloth to keep all your glass as shiny as the day you bought it.
iPhone auteurs also have the option to upgrade the onboard camera even further by dropping a little extra coin, specifically with the iPro Lens Kit which features many of the same lenses we mentioned above. The difference is the iPod contains higher quality glass that will take photos and record video at whichever resolution your phone is set to max out at.
Both kits are built standard for the iPhone 5 and 5S, but also have adapters which will allow them to fit snuggly on the back of an iPhone 6 or 6+.
Keep it Steady with Your Own Steadicam
We’ve all been there. You’re trying to watch a video of your niece’s ballet recital but halfway through you have to shut it off because your brother couldn’t keep his hands steady for more than a minute at a time.
Shaky videos and cell phone footage go so hand-in-hand by this point, it’s more of a surprise when a video is stable than when it isn’t. Luckily, if you’re trying to get professional-grade footage, there are a number of steadicams which will help you to keep your shots focused, stable, and looking as good as anything you’d see on the big screen.
Our favorite of the bunch is the Smoothee Steadicam, which uses a five pound counterweight to keep all your shots as buttery smooth as possible. Just attach your phone into the mount, grab the handle, and start stacking up that footage!
If you’re not willing to drop more than $100 on a rig, the StabylCam can be had for just a bit less, at $75. Unfortunately the materials required to make a decent steadicam keep costs relatively high, but the shots you get as a result are well worth the upfront charge.
Get the Horns Blaring in GarageBand
With GarageBand, you won’t even need to ring up John Williams to give your movie that professional-level score that will have everyone humming the tune at work next Monday.
Available for all models of the iPhone from the 4 and above, GarageBand for iOS enables you to create sweeping, gorgeous scores that are sure to keep your audience enthralled from start to finish. Choose from over 15+ different digital instruments to play, sample from the microphone, or integrate your own sounds recorded from an outside source and layer them together to create the environment and atmosphere that fits your film the best.
GarageBand is admittedly a bit simpler to use on an iPad than an iPhone, but both versions are equally feature-rich and come equipped with all the tools you’ll need to create the next big soundtrack for your Sundance debut.
Bring it All Together with iMovie
Last, but not least, comes the editing. As any director will tell you, a movie is only as good as its editor, and with iMovie you can create seamless, beautiful movies up to three hours long at a time.
Technically the base iPhone does come with its own video editor, but it’s limited almost exclusively to taking screenshots and trimming the size of the clip itself.
With iMovie, the choices shoot far beyond those cramped capabilities, including the option to add filters, transitions, logos, and even the ability to choose from a predetermined bank of animations that can be used to pull from one shot to the next.
You can download iMovie for your iPhone from the iTunes link here.
Just because your friend has a fancy DSLR doesn’t mean you can’t shoot pictures or movies that look just as good (if not better), than anything the pros are putting out. Make that next family video pop off the page with these simple tools and techniques.
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Acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh shot an entire movie on an iPhone, and he’s not the only one to try it. You don’t have to have be set on conquering the arthouse theater circuit to make a great video of your own with your iPhone. You just need to know a few tips to spruce up your smartphone filmmaking skills.
Lighting. A steady hand. Creativity. Apps. A lot of factors go into shooting a quality iPhone video. Apple’s iPhones already sport a reputation for having quality cameras, so it’s mostly about learning how to get the most out of them.
From video apps to smart tips, we’ve got you covered on your journey to making better videos. Your YouTube followers and your family and friends will love your new foray into iPhone filmmaking.
Try a new iPhone video app
Apple’s iOS Camera app is an easy and familiar way to shoot video, but there are other options that can put powerful features right at your fingertips. Here are two very different possibilities:
ProCam 6: You enjoy tinkering with all the available settings on a digital camera and you want extreme control over your video. Sound like you? Check out the $5.99 ProCam 6. If you’re familiar with the ins and outs of a DSLR camera, then you will find those manual controls re-created here. ProCam 6 is a solid option for adventurous filmmakers. If you just want to make some quick cute cat videos, then you might prefer the built-in camera app or our next app suggestion
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Spark Camera-Video Editor: The Spark Camera-Video Editor is all about making it easy to compile beautiful videos. You can film, add filters and music, and edit all within the app. This is a simple video-making solution that’s self-contained and intuitive to use. The app is free to download, but you can opt for a $2.99/month or $29.99/year Spark Pro membership that gives you more filter options, access to a music library and more advanced editing features.
Take better video footage with your iPhone
Follow these tips to capture clearer and cleaner video clips.
Clean your lens: Before you start filming, check that your camera lens is free from smudges and dirt. Apple suggests using a soft, lint-free cloth to gently clean your phone.
Hold steady: You already know that vertical video is a no-no. Shaky videos also aren’t much fun. To avoid too much movement, use both hands and focus on staying steady. A tripod or monopod can be helpful for this, or you can set your iPhone on a solid surface. Even bracing your elbows against your body or a table can work, too.
Consider a stabilizer: Hollywood filmmakers use a fancy camera mount called a Steadicam to get smooth shots. You can get a mini-sized equivalent for your iPhone. You will find options in all price ranges on Amazon. Just look for a smartphone stabilizer or gimbal.
Throw some light on it: Dark shots can be effective if you’re going for a moody look, but bad lighting is never in vogue. Turn on a lamp or overhead light, open a window curtain or experiment with the direction you’re facing when shooting outside. Proper lighting can make a huge difference between a video looking muddy and a video looking sharp.
Edit your iPhone video
Now that you’ve got your raw video together, it’s time to make it into something cohesive you can share with friends or with the world. This is where Apple users have it easy. You already have the iMovie app available to help your turn those clips into a cinematic masterpiece.
The iMovie app is powerful, but there can be a bit of a learning curve to figuring out all the details. The best way to sort it out is to go ahead and dive in and play around. When you start a new project, you can work from scratch or choose a trailer-style template. Those templates are a great way to get familiar with how iMovie works.
If you prefer to edit your video on a bigger screen with a laptop or desktop computer, then check out our Komando guide to free and low-cost video editors.
Stepping up your iPhone video-making skills can be addictive, whether you choose to approach it like you’re the next Alfred Hitchcock or you prefer to just have fun. Just be sure to hold your iPhone steady and shoot horizontally!
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- Getting Started with Video
Apple has come a long way since introducing video recording with the iPhone 3Gs. The newest iPhones can shoot stunning 4K footage, but if you just pull your iPhone out of your pocket and hit record, you won’t take full advantage of everything this powerful camera can do.
The following are some quick tips for getting the most out of your iPhone’s camera.
1. Use a tripod
The newest iPhones have built-in optical image stabilization, which makes shooting decent handheld footage fairly easy. But no matter how steady your hands are, nothing beats using a good old-fashioned tripod.
Our favorite iPhone tripod adapter is the Joby GripTight, which is around $20. It’s barely big enough to hold the iPhone 7 Plus, but it does work.
If you are stuck shooting handheld, here are some tips to help you stabilize your shot:
- Keep the phone close to your body.
- Rest your elbows on a nearby object.
- Use your body to absorb bounces and shakes.
2. Don’t use the iPhone digital zoom
Unless you have the dual-lens iPhone 7 Plus, avoid the temptation to use the iPhone’s built-in camera zoom. Since the lens isn’t zooming optically, you’re just enlarging the picture digitally, which means you will quickly enter the world of unsightly pixelation.
If you want to get a closer-up shot of your subject, move the phone closer until you find the perfect shot!
3. Light your video
Your iPhone footage will look best when you shoot with lots of light. If you’re shooting indoors, adding supplemental lighting will go a long way.
The built-in camera flash on the new iPhone will never compare to using off-camera lights. You can use professional video lights in a bunch of different ways. The Westcott Ice Lights are some of our favorite versatile lights, but if you’re on a budget, you can also hack together a decent lighting kit from Home Depot for under $100.
If you can’t get your hands on any studio lights, but you’re still shooting indoors, position yourself facing a window and use the sun.
4. Use the exposure lock
The iPhone will automatically focus and expose your shot. This can be a great function for quick photos, but when you’re shooting a video of one person talking to the camera, it can really complicate things. The iPhone tends to keep adjusting and refocusing, which can lead to jittery-looking footage.
That’s why we recommend using the exposure focus lock. This will help to keep the focus and exposure constant throughout your shot.
5. Get your microphone close to your subject
A general rule for clear audio is to get your microphone as close to your subject as possible.
When you’re shooting video with an iPhone, it’s best to position a second iPhone directly above the subject’s head to record clean audio. Creating a simple voice memo will do the trick!
Another option is to use an external microphone. You can plug a powered mic, like the Sennheiser ME66, into an XLR microphone adapter, and it’ll send the audio from the microphone directly into your iPhone.
Pro Tip: Clap once at the beginning of each take to create a reference point for syncing the good sound from the voice memo with the bad sound from the video recording.
6. Slow-motion and time-lapse
You can get some amazing shots with the iPhone’s built-in slow-mo, but make sure the choice to slow down the action is motivated. A shot of someone skiing will probably be great in slowmo. A shot of someone typing on their computer, on the other hand, might not be so interesting.
In the camera settings, you can choose to shoot 120 frames-per-second at 1080p resolution or 240 frames-per-second at a reduced resolution of 720p.
Time-lapses are a cool way to showcase a bustling work environment or event. Here are some handy tips for capturing a seamless time-lapse video:
- Put your phone on a tripod.
- Lock the focus and exposure for smooth and natural lighting changes.
- Put your phone in airplane mode before you hit record.
7. Edit on your computer
There are some pretty cool editing apps available for the iPhone, but they still don’t beat editing on your computer. When you finish shooting, plug your phone in, offload your footage, and import your videos into your editor of choice.
If you’ve never edited a video before, there’s never been a better time to start. The iPhone’s camera combined with some minor editing can unlock some serious potential. Plus, free tools like iMovie have made editing easier for everyone.
Use the camera you have
If you thought you needed to go out and buy a DSLR to make a video, think again! Sometimes, the best camera is the one you have with you.
It’s no secret that filmmaking can be an expensive pursuit, especially when you’re looking to invest in a full set of shooting equipment. Although the entry-level prices for cameras, lenses, lighting and sound equipment are becoming more affordable, it can still add up to a sizeable sum.
This raises the question: how cheap can you go while maintaining a professional sheen to your film, and is it even possible to shoot an iPhone feature film?
The short answer is: yes!
The longer answer is: yes, but it’s a bit more complicated than just pointing and shooting.
Today, we’re going to unpack the longer answer and teach you How To Shoot A Feature Film On An iPhone.
Firstly, it’s important to note that there’s nothing wrong with using an iPhone while working on set (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise). Whether it be for framing shots, getting quick takes or multiple angles, or simply for back-up purposes, one of the fundamentals taught at cinematography school is to always have a secondary camera on set. For many, a smartphone will suffice and may be the only thing within budget. Even if expensive secondary cameras are readily available, many seasoned professionals will attest to the usefulness of keeping one handy while on set.
Secondly, we know that an iPhone feature film is possible because it’s already been done a few times to great effect:
As can be seen from the above, there are quite a few benefits to shooting with such a compact camera and, in certain scenarios, can outweigh many of the disadvantages. If you’re looking to follow in their footsteps and craft your own iPhone feature film, there are some things to bear in mind:
1. iPhones are not the only camera phones.
Although we’re guilty of using the ubiquitous term iPhone here to describe any quality phone with a camera, obviously other smart phones are out there and many of them trump the iPhone’s specifications.
As any cinematographer knows, it’s not just about the megapixels so you’ll want to do some research into the final details before making your choice, but it certainly doesn’t have to be an iPhone. Speaking of which…
2. Consider Your Storage Options
While the iPhone does feature 64Gb of storage on the pricier models – which is currently unsurpassed by any other smart phone – it doesn’t have the option to increase this with the use of SD cards, unlike Samsung’s Galaxy line.
Depending on the scope of your project, this could be a real kicker; there’s nothing worse than traveling 200 miles to shoot at a remote location, only to run out of space on the phone within an hour of shooting. Of course, this can be remedied by backing up the footage on the fly to a laptop (which is also useful for keeping the phone juiced up), but this may be a clunky solution for some.
3. Get a Lens Kit
If you’re shooting a full feature-length movie with a phone, getting a lens kit is practically essential for improving the overall look and feel of the footage. Aside from enhancing the quality, it’ll also give you options when you’re out shooting in the field in terms of fish-eye, wide and macro angles. There are even mounts which allow you to hook up your Canon EOS or Nikon SLR lenses right onto the iPhone, emulating a true DSLR experience while shooting.
A lens kit won’t set you back too much, with many of the quality kits sitting in the $40-$100 range.
4. It’s All in the Render
Given that the footage you take on your iPhone isn’t going to come close to anything taken on a 4k studio camera, don’t compound the problem by compressing it in the editing sweet.
Render all of your editing in the highest bit rate available and in a loss-less format, and be wary of how post-processed effects may affect the quality.
5. Don’t Neglect the Sound
Although you can cut many corners when shooting an iPhone feature film and save a considerable amount on the final budget, one area which you should probably avoid scrimping on is the sound.
It isn’t too costly to make sure the soundtrack of your otherwise inexpensive iPhone feature film sounds great, but a poor soundtrack will really detract from the entire product.
Make the sound your number one priority (at least in terms of production), and the rest will follow.
Creating an iPhone feature film is already a possibility, and the practise is likely to rise in prevalence as camera phone specifications increase with newer models. It won’t work with every genre – think ‘found footage’ movies and gonzo documentaries rather than space operas – and you may have to use a little ingenuity to get the best results…
… but isn’t that what cinematography is all about?
By Charlie Sorrel • 1:00 pm, July 30, 2018
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This guy could do with a few video tips.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
Your iPhone is capable of shooting incredible videos. Its camera can capture 4K video, which is good enough for the cinema, and the video camera’s auto-stabilization turns your wobbly pans into cinematic sweeps.
And yet it’s still all too easy to shoot a terrible iPhone video. So today we’ll look at some simple tips, and a few gadgets, that will turn your clips into movie masterpieces.
Quick iPhone video tips
First, the easy part. There are a few tell-tale signs that mark out a video as amateur. One is zooming. In the movies, you may see a long, slow zoom from a wide shot, but apart from that, you almost never see a zoom. The director will cut to a close up, or a wide shot. They will never zoom, unless they’re making a point. Modern movie FX have also added the super-fast zoom, maybe followed by a slo-mo sequence, but unless you’re making a superhero movie, avoid this.
Another is roving focus. This happens rarely with the iPhone, but if your camera’s autofocus starts to seek a subject while you’re filming, it’ll look awful. Avoid this by using manual focus, and focussing before you start to shoot.
Also, don’t shoot vertical video. Just don’t.
Plan your moves, and use a tripod or stabilizer
Unlike zooming, moving the camera while shooting is a valid technique. You may dolly towards the subject (instead of zooming in), or track across the screen, or use a Bourne-movie style shaky-cam for claustrophobic effect. Or you may choose to keep the camera still. Whichever you choose, you should commit to it. If you want the camera to stay locked down, then use a tripod. If you want a tracking shot, either use a dolly (pushing a photographer while she sits in a wheelchair is a surprisingly good hack), or make sure that you can hold the iPhone steady.
The iPhone’s built-in image stabilization is already very good, but of you really want to smooth things out, then buy (or make) one of those iPhone stabilization rigs, which has a counterweight to stop the camera shaking.
Use a microphone
Great movies have great sound. You never even notice it, because it is so well done. To get the best sound for your own movies, you should use a microphone. We have a whole article dedicated to getting the best sound for your iPhone movies. You can get mics that plug directly into the iPhone’s lightning jack. You can use clip-on mics, and you can even use the microphone on another iPhone, and paste it onto your video later.
But however you do it, make sure you take as much care of your sound as you do of the video. Perhaps even more. Ask yourself this: Would you rather watch a movie with a shaky-cam, and which maybe breaks up from time to time, or a nicely shot movie with dialog that blows out, distorts, and cuts out? Bad audio is way more noticeable, and way more annoying, than bad video.
Use a dedicated video app
The built-in camera app is fine, but for more control, including manual focus, you should use a dedicated movie app, like Filmic Pro. Filmic is aimed squarely at the pro-level movie maker, with all kinds of manual controls, for everything from exposure, through color balance, to focus. It can also shoot video (and sync audio) at 24 frames-per-second, which is the speed that film runs at, giving your footage a cinematic look.
There are other apps, but Filmic is definitely a solid choice.
Download: Filmic Pro from the App Store (iOS)
How to edit iPhone videos
When I say edit, here, I don’t just mean that you should cut clips together to tell a story. I mean that you should make those shots as short as possible. Even if your short movie is just a single shot, you should edit that. There’s no need to linger on a scene unless there’s a good narrative reason to do so. Your audience will get bored.
You can also start editing before you tap the record button. Take a look in the frame. Ignore your subject and look behind them. Is there a brightly-colored car in the frame? Try to move so you don’t see it. Is there anything that catches the eye, that will distract from the subject? Try to compose the frame so you don’t see any of this. Edit the clip to focus on the most important part.
Photo: Cult of Mac
If your clips end up longer than you’d like, just trim them down right there in the Photos app. Just tap the Edit button when viewing the video, and then drag on the ends of the little timeline that appears below the video. The edges of the timeline will turn yellow, and you can save the trimmed clip in addition to the original.
Plan, if you can
In the end, it all comes down to planning. You don’t need a huge production, or even a to-do list. Just take a moment to think about what you want to film, before just hitting the record button and capturing what’s in front of you.
In fact, even without all the apps and gadgets above, you can shoot amazing videos with the iPhone, as long as you give it a little thought first. You see something that you want to film, but what exactly is it that you like about the scene before you? You can almost guarantee that it’s not “the whole scene.” So, work out what it is and concentrate on that element, or group of elements. That might mean getting in closer. It might mean framing the shot to remove any distractions, or just to emphasize the main subject.
If you’re far away, consider how the clip will sound when recorded.
Then, when you know exactly what you want, frame it, and shoot it. Afterwards, remove any extra footage by editing. In short, remove as much as you can, while still leaving in everything you need. Easy.
While most smartphones these days take great video, the iPhone is the camera to beat. Recent models like the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro shoot in 4K resolution from every camera, and even a budget device like the iPhone SE delivers an excellent 4K image from the rear shooter. That said, if you haven’t touched your camera settings since taking it out of the box, you’re likely missing out.
Every model since the iPhone 6 S is capable of shooting 4K video (2160p), but Apple insists on setting the default resolution to 1080p HD. That’s still high-definition, just not the maximum quality your iPhone is capable of shooting in. Unless you’re worried about storage space (4K video can take up a lot of room, and even more with HDR enabled), you should be focused on recording the best video possible.
Method 1: Switch to 4K from the Camera App
If you’re running iOS 14 on the iPhone 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro, or 12 Pro Max, or any iPhone model that supports the software, or iOS 13.2 or later on an iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, or SE (2nd generation), you can change your video resolution right in the Camera app.
Just tap on the “HD” that appears in the toolbar, which signifies 1080p mode. When you do, your iPhone should switch to 4K, without you needing to backtrack over to Settings. If you already see “4K,” that means your iPhone is already shooting at the highest quality possible. However, if you’re using the front camera instead of the rear, only the iPhone 11 series and iPhone 12 series models can choose 4K recordings.
At this point, you can also tap the “24,” “30,” or “60” that’s next to 4K to change the frame rate too. The 24 will make your video look choppier, like film; 30 will look like standard video; 60 will make captured motion look very smooth. The iPhone 8 and later can use any of those frame rates with the rear camera, while older devices are limited to “30” frames per second (fps). The iPhone 11 series and iPhone 12 series models can switch frame rates on the front camera too.
Just know that any changes you make directly in Camera will only affect that shooting session. If you close the app, Camera will return to the default resolution and frame rate (see Method 2 for info on that) when you open it back up. “Preserve Settings” does not lock it in place either.
What if It’s Not Switching Between Resolutions?
If nothing happens when you tap on “HD” in the toolbar, it may not be activated on your iPhone yet. So, you’ll need to head to Settings –> Camera –> Record Video, then toggle on the “Video Format Control” switch. Not every iPhone will have this setting, so if you don’t see it, it’s on by default, and you can’t turn it off.
Method 2: Switch to 4K from the Settings App
On any iPhone model or iOS version, open Settings, then head to “Camera.” From here, tap “Record Video,” then choose any of the 4K options. Changing it here will switch it in the Camera app immediately.
Just like in Method 1, which frame rate you choose is up to you. To reiterate, 24 fps will make your video look choppier, like film; 30 fps will look like standard video; 60 fps will make captured motion look very smooth. If it helps, the Apple default is 30 fps. Whichever option you choose will apply to the rear and front camera, though, if the front camera does not support your preferred resolution, it will use the next best one.
Whatever resolution settings you choose here will be your defaults going forward. So, let’s say you select 4K at 60 fps, but you change it to 4K at 24 fps using Method 1. When the Camera closes or times out, when you go back to record video, it’ll be back at 4K and 60 fps, your defaults.
Your Frame Rate May Change in Dimly Lit Environments
Now, there’s something to be said about shooting in dark areas. Whenever “Auto FPS” on the iPhone 12 series models is activated, in dimly lit environments, your iPhone will automatically switch from 60 fps or 30 fps to 24 fps since 24 fps keeps the shutter open longer, which lets in more light.
On older iPhone models, it does the same whenever “Auto Low Light FPS” is enabled, only it will switch to 24 fps when shooting at 30 fps, not both 30 fps and 60 fps. The indicator in the Camera app never changes when it does this, so you won’t know until you look at the footage.
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Your clip of a rat schlepping a quesadilla has the power to out-hype a summer blockbuster. Do it right.
YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo display videos in widescreen format, so get with the program. A simple rotation of your phone to horizontal allows you to fill 100 percent of a web player. It’s also the same shape as a TV screen, so when your viral video makes the news, it won’t look like amateur hour.
Kill the Shakes
Invest in a mini tripod or, even better, a camera-stabilizing gimbal. If you’re panning a handheld shot, place your hips in the direction of the point where your shot finishes. And here’s a dirty little secret: If you’re on your own but want a smooth third-person point-of-view shot of yourself, buy a selfie stick. You can edit out the snickers of onlookers later.
Watch the Light
Record video with the sun at your back to keep your subject fully lit. Most video-capture apps let you toggle the exposure when the actor is backlit, but you’ll always risk blowing out the rest of your scene. When indoors, arrange standing lamps to create a simple three-point light setup—move them around until you eliminate harsh shadows.
Director Sean Baker produced an entire feature film, Tangerine, using the iPhone 5s. He opted for an anamorphic lens adapter made by Moondog Labs. “You aren’t going to get the shallow depth of field usually associated with a cinematic film,” Baker says, “but once you accept that your entire scene will be in focus, it becomes a big part of the film. I wanted people to see parts of LA that they don’t usually see.” Pro tip from Baker: If you’re using a gimbal, make sure it can counterbalance the weight of your lens adapter.
So you’ve invested in a lens and maybe a tripod, now don’t skimp on sound. There are several directional mic adapters designed specifically for smartphones. If you need to use multiple mics, record sound separately and drop it in during the edit.
Fix It in Post
Many filmmakers who work with iPhones use Filmic Pro ($10) to record their video and then dump the footage onto a computer for editing. If you’re itching to get your clips online now, skip the desktop and edit in iMovie for iOS. On Android, try PowerDirector. Laying text over the image is currently all the rage in web video. For graphics wordplay on iOS, Gravie ($2) is all you need; for Android, use the app VideoShow.
Embrace the Phone
It must be asked: Why not just buy a DSLR? The phone is an attractive tool for reasons beyond its pocketability. For Baker, the inconspicuous presence helps: “I work with a lot of nonprofessional actors, and because they are used to having phones around all the time, they feel relaxed and act natural while we’re filming.”
Paula Chowles (@paulachowles) is a video producer at WIRED.
Looking to get into iOS moviemaking? All you need is an iPhone or iPad, a tripod, the right software, and a bit of creativity. Here’s how to get started.
King Kong. Jason and the Argonauts. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. These are just a few classic films made via stop motion technology. In such movies, the filmmaker gives life to inanimate objects by shooting a few frames at a time while moving objects in between shots in order to mimic life. In the finished film, objects appear to move on their own.
You can make your own stop motion films; all you need is an iPhone or iPad, a tripod, the right software, and a bit of creativity. Let’s look at how to create stop motion movies via your iPhone or iPad.
Find the Right Tripod
You can shoot stop motion films with just about any iPhone or iPad. I prefer to use an iPhone, since it’s smaller, easier to maneuver, and fits better on most tripods. The result is the same, though.
Your first stop should be to a retailer to find a good tripod. You can check out Best Buy or other brick-and-mortar stores or browse the virtual aisles of online retailers. I scoured Amazon for tripods with legs that could shrink or bend significantly so I could shoot on the floor, if necessary. And I wanted one with a remote control so I wouldn’t have to touch the iPhone each time I wanted to shoot. I finally purchased this one.
Finding the Right Software
Next, you want to find the right software to help you shoot your stop motion pictures. You can get by using the built-in camera features for Photo or Video mode, but the results will be uneven. Your best bet is to use an app specifically designed for stop motion shooting.
A few different apps in the App Store offer the ability to shoot stop motion footage, but I use Stop Motion Studio because you can control the frame rate at which you shoot, adjust the lighting and other conditions, and spruce up your video with themes and other effects. The basic app is free; for $4.99 you can add a feature pack with themes, special effects, and 4K ultra high-definition video.
If you own an iPhone, you already have what you need to make professional-looking videos. Whether you’re just dabbling or a video wizard, you can shoot videos so good-looking that people won’t believe you used a phone. Here’s how.
How Can I Shoot Better Video On My Smartphone?
Dear Lifehacker, I’m by no means an aspiring film director, but I’ve never been happy with the…
You probably already know that iPhones (or any smartphone for that matter) are capable of shooting awesome videos, but I wonder if you truly get just how awesome. Here take a moment to watch this trailer for Tangerine, a full-length, 87-minute movie that premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.
Looks great, right? It was shot entirely on an iPhone 5S. Tangerine is proof that you don’t need a big Hollywood budget to create a quality cinematic experience. However, we can’t overlook the creativity and skill of the film’s creators either. While you can use any smartphone to shoot great-looking video, the extras and features we’re about to discuss are mostly for the iPhone.
Understand Filmmaking Basics and Your iPhone’s Features
Even top-of-the-line equipment is still only as good as the person who uses it. It’s crucial to learn basic filmmaking techniques, including the principles behind camera angles, capturing movement , and lighting .
Lighting, in particular, is important for creating mood and emphasizing certain details. Your iPhone’s video looks best with ample natural lighting. If your budget allows, you should get and learn to use a good lighting kit , like this one by StudioPRO . Alternatively, you can make your own for less than $100 . Here are other tips to take note of:
- Always shoot in landscape mode. This is the most basic tip, since portrait mode gives you those ugly black borders in your final video clip.
- Clean your camera lens regularly. Wiping dust or grease away with a microfiber cloth takes literally 10 seconds and doesn’t hurt to do.
- Don’t use the zoom function. The zoom on your iPhone is digital zoom, not optical zoom, which is no good for detail or image quality. Using it will likely make your video look grainy. If you have the iPhone 7 Plus, however, its dual camera lens lets you zoom in a bit more without compromising quality.
- Use the exposure lock. The iPhone automatically focuses on the subject in your shot and adjusts to the proper amount of lighting your camera “lets in” , or exposure. If you’re shooting a video with someone talking, the constant automatic adjustments can make the footage choppy. Use your Auto Exposure/Auto Focus (AE/AF) lock feature by tapping on the screen and holding it until AE/AF box appears. Once it does, the focus is locked and you can adjust exposure by dragging your finger up or down. Both of these keep the video looking consistently sharp.
- Put your phone in Airplane mode. This is to avoid getting unnecessary interruptions and sounds from notifications while you’re shooting. You can do that in Settings or by swiping up on your screen to bring up the Control Center and hitting the airplane symbol.
- Mix it up with lens attachments. Many third-party companies make lenses that you can physically attach to your iPhone to distort the look of your photo or video . For example, you can get a fisheye or wide-angle lens for added flair. You don’t need these, but they do expand the creative and stylistic possibilities. You could look into something like a multi-lens kit like olloclip .
- Take advantage of time-lapse and slow-motion video features. In addition to normal video, you can take time-lapses and slow-motion sequences, which are built into the iPhone’s Camera app. When you open Camera, scroll to the left to find these options. When you record a time-lapse or slow-motion video, it’s important to hold your camera still on a tripod (or this DIY phone holder made out of empty toilet paper rolls ) to avoid choppy-looking sequence.