Create professional-looking videos with your smartphone today

by Haadi Bakar
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Whether you want to start a school film project or produce a marketing video for your startup, your smartphone is probably all you need for the job these days.

The fact that you can shoot high quality video with our smartphones today is nothing short of remarkable. New advancements in smartphone video recording such as the ability to shoot in 4K resolution and digital stabilisation allow you to take breathtaking shots anytime and anywhere.

And as smartphone manufacturers continue to push new technologies on their cameras, it just makes more sense financially to upgrade to a new phone rather than splurging on expensive professional gear.

Videographers around the world are already embracing mobile videography for their work, and with the right tools and technique, you too can start creating your own professional-looking videos and impress your followers online.

 

First things first

If you want to take professional filmmaking seriously, you have to start getting used to shooting your entire videos in landscape orientation.

Aside from making your video seem more aesthetically pleasing, it’ll also be more enjoyable to watch on your living room television.

https://youtu.be/Bt9zSfinwFA

You’d also want to avoid zooming. As I’ve mentioned countless times in my previous articles, digital zooms on smartphones are horrible: they’re nothing more than software tricks that’ll make your subject appear closer but with extreme pixelation.

Instead , get closer to the subject, or move the camera slowly to create the zooming effect.

Most importantly, frame your shot just like you would when taking photos. Stay still and record smoothly to avoid camera shake.

 

Tripods

A tripod should be the first piece of accessory you need to purchase if you want to take better videos.

A tripod is every photographers and filmmakers best friend. It helps eliminate camera shake, and it’s really handy when you want to record yourself talking in your very own Youtube show.

Tripods are really easy to get and aren’t that expensive so you don’t have to go all out. Even a cheap and pocketable mini-tripod can go a long way.

My personal favourite is the Gorillapod from Joby, which is highly versatile and can be mounted on any rough surface or even latch on a pole thanks to its flexible, rubberised legs.

You can also use monopods and selfie sticks to steady your shot, or even make your own smartphone holder out of a business card or paper cup.

 

Stabilisers

A smartphone mounted on the Osmo Mobile stabiliser. Image courtesy of DJI

Notice those cool panning and moving shots in movies or wedding videos? You don’t really need expensive gear to achieve that.

This technique is made possible with the use of stabilisers. They help prevent shaking in your moving shots and create a dramatic effect on your videos.

Many videographers and action cam enthusiasts swear by it, and now even smartphone users can join the fun.

There are many kinds of stabilisers on the market designed specifically for smartphones today, from the Steadycam Smoothee to the motorised Osmo Mobile.

They are quite pricey, but well worth the money. Again, there are DIY solutions and hacks which you can learn from online. Even a simple monopod can be used as a stabiliser for motion shots.

 

Lens mount and other accessories

You don’t have to buy a pricey dSLR to shoot video. There are countless accessories available for your smartphone from creative lens add-ons like Moment lenses and the Olloclip to smartphone mounting systems such as the Beastgrip Pro.

Check out kickstarter.com where you’ll see new inventions being made to improve smartphone videography. On

Another device you’ll need most is a power bank, as a long day of video shoot can really drain your phone battery.

Also make sure your phone is covered with a highly durable case. Your phone is more susceptible to damage from the outdoor video shoot activities.

 

Lighting

Considering that smartphone cameras have smaller image sensors and lenses, it always help to have good lighting when shooting video.

Shooting in brightly lit areas or on bright sunny day always guarantees a good shot, but in dimly lit areas, you might want to compensate that with some external lighting accessories, especially if you plan on shooting a video blog.

You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot on lighting rigs to make it work. Even standing next to a natural light source such as a window or lamp can get the job done.

 

Audio matters

Bad audio quality can instantly ruin even the most impressive looking video.

Unfortunately, the built-in microphone in most smartphones is not good enough to capture the best quality sound, and is very common to catch unnecessary environmental noise and wind that will drown any important audio.

Consider getting an external microphone if you want to record the subject’s voice and lessen ambient noise.

You can easily get one of those inexpensive lav mics which you can hook to a shirt and connect to the phone’s audio jack.

You can also add an audio track of your choice in post-production, to help set the mood of your shot.

 

Editing

If you really want to get your hands dirty on filmmaking, then you need to learn to edit your videos.

For the longest time, video editing, or post-production, is mainly carried out with the use of video-editing software on the PC. But now, there are readily available  apps for your smartphone so you can edit your videos on the fly.

Apple’s iMovie for iOS. Image courtesy of Apple

The iPhone comes bundled with the easy-to-use iMovie, while Android users can download a wide selection of apps such as PowerDirector, KineMaster and VivaVideo.

Of course, you can’t beat the power and flexibility of video-editing apps on the computer, such as Final Cut (if you’re using a Mac), Sony Vegas and Adobe Premiere. It’s also a lot easier to work on a mouse and keyboard as opposed to the touchscreen on a small display.

Editing your videos is a surefire way to impress your audience. It may be more time consuming, but the end result is always more satisfying than uploading straight off the Instagram or Snapchat app.

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