Smartphones make snapping quick pictures and shooting quick films easy. But what about shooting good films? How is it possible to get the very best out of the relatively limited software on offer by Apple and Android phones? We’ve put together this brief overview of some smartphone filmmaking tips to help you shoot the best films you possibly can.
Specialist apps can give you far more control over your pictures and videos
The camera on an iPhone isn’t half bad considering the phone’s small size. But the app that comes included with iPhones that determine the control you have over your shot isn’t so great. You can’t manually adjust focus or contrast, for a start. This really puts a damper on your efforts if you want to make beautiful films with just an iPhone.
But with a whole host of professional grade apps, you can completely transform your film to the point where people might not even realise it was filmed on a smartphone. Cinescope, for instance, can be used to shoot in any aspect ratio you like. Adobe Premiere Clip gives you the ability to edit films on your phone. And Filmic Pro can adjust lighting, contrast, and colour. With apps like these, smartphone filmmaking is easier than ever.
Tripods and mounts can help you get a steady shot
Hardware is just as important as software, and not much more expensive either. With a cheap, basic tripod or handheld mount you can turn your smartphone films into steady shots. It’s almost a tradition now that anything filmed on a smartphone is 1) in portrait, and 2) filmed so shakily that it’s reminiscent of Blair Witch Project-style found footage. Even if you do your best to keep your camera still, you can always tell it was filmed by hand.
Some full height tripods are designed to fit both cameras and smartphones, and the very basic entries can be found on eBay or Amazon for two or three pounds- so you won’t be breaking into the piggy bank. But for such a small investment, they can help your filmmaking come on leaps and bounds.
All the rules of composition still apply
Just because you’re filming on a smartphone, that doesn’t change what makes a good shot good, and a bad shot bad. Even when using the smartphone filmmaking tips above, bear in mind that fancy equipment and some cheap apps can’t replace the basic skills and knowledge of filmmaking.
The rule of thirds, for instance still applies whether you’re filmmaking on a £10,000 camcorder or a smartphone. The 180 degree rule still applies, and lighting and angle are still just as important as they always have been. It’s these skills in combination with the equipment above that can help you make standout films on just an iPhone or Android.