5 Tips for Shooting Videos Using Smartphones
In just a span of 10 years, the quality of photos and videos delivered by phones have already made a huge jump from the VGA main shooters of 2007 to creamy bokehs of today’s selfies. Smartphones now are equipped with really capable sensors and they produce quality videos as well. This is why we can now simply bring our phones to document a trip, for example, and leave our dedicated point-and-shoot video cameras behind. With that in mind, here are five tips to consider when shooting using only your handsets.
Use Manual Mode
Most smartphones that focus on imaging (like the LG V20 or ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom) have manual controls so that the user can fine-tune the settings of the camera for a specific shot. With this feature, you can manually tweak the shutter speed, ISO, white balance, and exposure before hitting the record button. Doing so will avoid shooting a series of video clips with differing settings like fluctuating white balance or exposure and, in turn, produce a more consistent footage.
Focus is also among the settings that you can control manually and it greatly helps as an added variation for your shots. For example, instead of just showing your subject as is, you can begin your scene with only the background focused and slowly shift the focus to your subject. This will add a bit of depth to the shot and slowly guide your viewers’ attention to whatever it is you’re focusing on.
Using manual mode while shooting videos will also let you apply specific effects like a slow shutter that works best if you want to trace movements such as passing cars at night or playing with long exposure shots.
Use Basic Accessories
There are numerous accessories to check out if you want to improve your smartphone videography. Although of course, there are basic ones that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. You can start by getting a small tripod and a smartphone mount which will altogether cost around less than Php1K. Getting a tripod for your smartphone will also allow you to perform smooth pans and tilts. If you want to try out shooting time lapse videos, a tripod is of utmost importance to keep the phone steady.
You may check out some of Joby’s smartphone accessories which we previously unboxed. They make decent quality tripods and mounts but they are a bit more expensive than other third party manufacturers.
Expand Your Gear if Necessary
If you want to do more movements while shooting using your smartphone, then you might want to invest in better gear. Do take note that we used the word ‘invest’ since you need to shell out more for these equipment unlike the small tripod for the handset. For doing smooth handheld shots, you may want to check out 3-axis gimbal mounts that you can attach your phone onto. This is a stabilizer that compensates for the shake and movement when you shoot while walking or running, therefore, producing smoother footage. There are different brands that offer this but if you want to go for quality, you may want to check out Zhiyun Z1 Smooth or DJI’s Osmo Mobile.
DJI Osmo Mobile
I personally own one although it’s a different Chinese brand called Smooth-C. It works the same way and produces decent video. I used a smartphone with the Smooth-C to shoot the entire Mazda3 Review below so you can check it out for performance.
Compose Each Shot
For those starting out on basic videography — whether using a simple smartphone or a full-fledged video camera, you should always compose your shot before filming. Remember that videography is basically a moving photo in which you have to plan and arrange the elements/subjects prior to shooting them. This is where the Rule of Thirds apply where you draw an imaginary grid on the scene and place your subjects at the intersecting points to make it look more interesting and aesthetically pleasing.
It’s a rule of thumb to avoid placing your subject right smack in the middle where it could appear boring. Of course, there are exceptions, but it’s wiser to follow the Rule of Thirds when you start dabbling with videography.
This would be a great photo if only the horizon is straight.
While on the subject of composition, keep your eyes peeled in keeping your horizon straight. It may sound like a simple and unimportant thing to keep in mind but you’d be surprised at how much it makes your shot more appealing.
Select a good video editing app
Finally, after shooting, you’ll need to use a video editing app to stitch your video clips if you want to tell a story of sorts. Again, there are different video editing apps out there and it’s up to you which are you comfortable to use. But if we’re to recommend an app, it’s the Adobe Premiere Clip.
The app is free to download for both iOS and Android and is pretty straightforward to use. Users can choose to let the app do either a quick automatic edit or fully take over the project and trim/lengthen your video to make it more personalized. It’s almost a complete package with picture adjustments, using your own music, and applying different filters. You can even transfer to your PC, run Adobe Premiere Pro, and continue working on your project.