It is often said that the best camera is the camera in your pocket.
Ok!, maybe it’s not the exact quote, but it aligns perfectly with this article.
Because, in this article, we are going to talk about how to create cinematic videos right on your mobile phone.
Creating cinematic videos on a mobile phone requires a bit of understanding of what cinematic videos really are.
There are many criteria for a video to look cinematic. In a general sense, it is videos that are trying to reveal something or put the focus on the visuals to give the viewer an immersive experience.
A good part of it is done in the post-production inside a video editor, but, it is equally important you know how to take cinematic shots using your mobile camera.
When this article we are going to talk about how to take cinematic shots using your mobile camera and then how to turn into cinematic videos by editing them.
How to take cinematic shots using your mobile camera
We need two features that your smartphone camera should have, it is optional but is going to enhance your videos to the next level.
1. Your smartphone camera should be able to record videos in higher FPS, at least 60fps.
A standard cinematic video is shot in 24fps. Mostly all the smartphone cameras have a standard 30fps capability.
Smartphones that are on the more expensive side, offer higher frame rates as well.
For your understanding, iPhones and Samsung Galaxy smartphones offer 60fps to 120fps.
This will be important when you try to slow down the video by 0.5x, which can be useful in highlighting a particular scene because the slow motion is one important element of cinematic videos.
When you slow down a 60fps video, it would still have 30 frames per second, which makes it look normal, else it looks a little odd when you try to 0.5x a video recorded at 30fps.
Also, try recording in the highest quality possible. Mostly all the smartphones offer 1080p recording capability. If there’s 4K recording available, and your mobile has storage, try that as well.
2. Your Smartphone camera should have some kind of Image Stabilization for recording videos.
Again, the iPhones and Samsung Galaxy series have optical image stabilization, but there are many smartphones that are recently launching have got electronic image stabilization.
This feature can also be really good for taking videos without any shakes and jerks.
However, there is a way to stabilize the videos after you have recorded them, it is useful if your smartphone camera does not offer optical image stabilization feature.
Coming back to the technique……
Keep your camera moving…..slowly.
Don’t put something in a frame and hold your camera to show it for long, as if it’s a photograph. When you try to show something in the video try moving your camera towards the subject.
You can start from either left or right or from the bottom or up, and start planning your camera towards the subjects slowly.
If you can buy Mobile Gimbals, you should invest in it. The smartphone gimbals of a great stabilization to the videos, and make Panning and Zooming better than handheld. Zhiyun Smooth Gimbals are pretty nice and affordable.
Take Shorter Shots
Cinematic is also about changing the angle frequently. If you’re trying to cover something in your video.
For example, food if getting served, don’t try taking the entire process in a single shot, try taking different shots from different angles.
You should not worry about missing a step or two of the process your shooting, the viewers can figure it out. What important is, to show the process from different angles, so the user doesn’t get bored.
While taking smaller shots of a process, you might say to yourself, that what you are doing is a stupid idea, and you should simply shoot the entire process from one angle, so that your viewers can understand what’s going on.
But, when you will put all these different shorter clips in your video editor, you will be amazed to look at the results.
And, this is where shooting in higher frame rates can come in handy, you can actually fasten (2x or 4x) some part of a video clip, and slow down the crucial parts to make them look dramatic.
Follow the subject
If it’s one person that you are showing the story of, or it’s a street scene with people walking around, you can try walking with the camera making sure you keep it stable to get a smoother video.
Optical image stabilization should come in handy in this situation, and also the higher frame rate video so that you can slow down in post-production to get an amazing result.
So, these are some basic things you should keep in mind and try to practice them if you want to take cinematic shots from your mobile camera.
Remember, taking cinematic shots from your mobile is just one part of the game, the rest of the magic is done inside a video editor.
How to edit videos on your mobile to make them look cinematic
It is always suggested to use a video editor on PC because they are more powerful and have got more features, but thanks to the availability of few excellent video editors for Android, it can be done on a mobile phone as well.
If you have read the above section and know how to take cinematic shots, the job is going to become easier.
What we mostly require from a full-fledged video editor, is to stabilize the videos, do colour correction, and fake some shots to look like slow motion.
So, if you have already taken care of that while shooting the video on your mobile phone, the rest of the things can be done easily with any mobile video editor.
There are two best mobile video editors currently available for Android.
1. Powder Director (Play Store)
2. KineMaster (Play Store | App Store)
It is pointless to use the free versions since they will add their self-branding as a watermark on the videos, thankfully there a lot cheaper in comparison to the PC based video editors.
The power director can be purchased by paying $8, while Kinemaster will cost you $30-$35/ yearly (there is also a monthly subscription).
The KineMaster Video editor is certainly more expensive than Power Director, but, it also offers more features, especially the colour filters, transitions, and the easier user interface makes it worth paying that money.
However, both the video editors will work for normal video editing. Both the video editors also behave similarly with the magnetic timeline but require some time to know and use the software comfortably.
Add the videos you have shot on your mobile phone to the video editor of your choice, arrange them accordingly and go to every clip to cut and delete the portion that you don’t want.
You have the option to mute individual clips in case you do not want the audio from these videos.
You can check out these articles to get copyright free music for your videos. The sources will offer a lot of cinematic sounds that you can use for your project.
Using the video editor of your choice, you can cut the video clips to speed them up or slow them down accordingly and cut them in a way that scenes changed are in sync with the music beats.
It looks nice when you edit videos to the beat.
Here is an easier way to edit videos to the music beat faster
By using another video editor called AdobePremierer Clip. It doesn’t offer a lot of features, but it is a wonderful app to create cinematic sequences faster. The output also looks nice.
Learn how to use Adobe Premiere Clip to Edit Videos to Music Beats on Mobile
If you feel editing videos to the music beat are tough in Power Director or Kinemaster, you can use the Premier Clip app to make cinematic sequences and then add them to the video editor of your choice for other enhancements, such as colour filter and cinematic bars.
Adding Cinematic Bars to the Videos.
You might have seen black bars on the top and the bottom of the movies, this is because the movie is a shot in a different aspect ratio (mostly 21:9) than other videos we watch, YouTube or TV Shows etc are 16:9.
This is why the black bars appear when we watch them on our 16:9 aspect ratio screens.
What you can do is, add the black bar to the videos and get the cinematic look, you can do a Google image search for ‘cinematic black borders png‘ to get a transparent black border, that can be downloaded to your mobile phone.
Once you have downloaded it you can add the image on the top of your video in a new layer (both, power director and KineMaster support layers) and then zoom eat to fit into your video. You can expand the image to cover the entire video.
After previewing your result, you can export the video to the highest quality option available, both the app gives you the option to export full HD resolution videos.
This cinematic sequence I have shot using the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and editing it in Kinemaster.
I hope you find this guide useful for learning how to create cinematic videos on your mobile phone.