Smartphones take away a lot of limitations creative filmmakers can find themselves in. From shooting videos in too crowded situations to putting the camera in extremely tight places, smartphones are pretty capable in this matter.
With the advancement in the Smartphone market, you have the Ultimate camera in your pocket,
That has got a battery that can last for several hours,
That has brought a microphone of excellent quality,
That has got all the frame rates and resolutions you would want,
That has stabilization that frees you from spending money on expensive rigs and trained cameraperson to operate it.
And heck, it has even got a video editing software to put together all your clips and create your video from anywhere in the world.
This movie was shot on a Mobile Phone, in 2017.
Which smartphone to choose for shooting your videos?
Before 2020 I would have suggested you opt for a this inexpensive under $70 martphone Gimbal. I even wrote an article suggesting some affordable options.
The reason is Optical Image Stabilization, when works together with Electronic Image Stabilization, can give some fantastic output if you are talented and have got stable hands.
But as of 2020, smartphones with optical image stabilization have gone out of reach as they are only found in flagship smartphones that are now about $1000.
But the good thing is, mid-range smartphones have got improved camera performance, even though they do not have Optical Image Stabilization, the Electronic Image Stabilization is pretty amazing and when you take an affordable smartphone Gimbal, which will still be a lot cheaper than buying a flagship smartphone with Optical Image Stabilization.
My favorite pic would be this inexpensive under $70 martphone Gimbal that’s also pretty tiny to carry in your second pocket.
If you still want me to name a few smartphones, you can check out this list of my favorite mid-range smartphones to create videos.
Which accessories should I opt for my smartphone for creating videos?
As I mentioned in the article above, I would suggest anyone going for a Smartphone Gimbal if you are not already spending more than a thousand dollars on a flagship smartphone.
But if you already have decided on a smartphone and do not want to go for a Gimbal, you should buy a Mini Tripod. My favorite is this cheap tripod / selfie stick that I purchased for just under $20.
The selfie stick has got itself a bad name because of the overuse and the availability of cheap quality selfie sticks. But they are pretty impressive, especially for getting some unique angles.
If you have a selfie stick, you can extend it to a folder and then mimic some fantastic shots like a crane shot that starts from the bottom and Rises, or vice versa. Or some low-angle shots, shots from where your hands couldn’t reach otherwise.
Then it is also pretty helpful in doing a vlogging style video where you are the one who is recording yourself and does not want to look like a fool in public, stretching your arms to the max.
The other crucial accessory for your smartphone for video production I would suggest is to get a microphone. I’ve already stated that the microphones on mobile phones are pretty awesome, but the subject is closer to the camera when you are indoors.
If you want to record film-style videos where the subject would be away from the camera, it would be nice to have a microphone closer to them.
If you are on a budget, you can go for a lapel microphone, something like Boya M1, that would cost you under $15.
It gives you a 20 feet long cable, which is quite enough to do many different kinds of videos. You can even use it as a boom mic if you wrap it around a stick play sit on the top of your subject, outside of the frame.
But having a wireless solution would be an excellent investment for any video. A $250 rode wireless go would be the best solution. The audio quality is fantastic. The range is impressive; it doesn’t have any interference issues with other wireless frequencies.
Which frame rate and resolution on how to opt for mobile videos
Smartphones offer different frame rates, such as 30fps, 60fps, and even 120fps and 240 fps for Slo-Mo. My suggestion would be to use 30fps for non-sporty videos.
For example, if you are recording a video by just sitting and talking into the camera, using 60fps for your video would waste resources.
But if you are trying to capture some action, it is better to record what we do in a higher frame because you will have the option to Slow it Down for a slow-motion effect.
Recording videos in 60fps works best when there is a fair amount of light available, for example, outdoors in the daytime.
120fps or 240fps is quite gimmicky and does not at all work indoors. It is better to avoid them because even a 60fps video will give you a pretty nice slow motion, up to 50% when creating a project with 30 FPS and up to 40% when starting a project with 24 FPS.
Many smartphones now offer 4K resolution, but these are usually the flagship smartphones that can capture 4K pretty nicely. I am yet to see a mid-range smartphone that captures 4K that does make a difference.
Also, for recording 4K videos, you need to have a smartphone with ample storage with 128 GB or 256 GB.
Unless you have a flagship smartphone, you should stick to 1080p videos because it’s a standard. However, if you plan to upload your videos on YouTube, most people will watch your videos in full HD.
Also, mobile filmmaking is meant to lift the barrier of having an expensive video rig and gain the audience’s attention from the video’s content.
Which editing software to use for editing mobile videos
Suppose you already have a computer and are only limited to create videos because of the lack of a camera. In that case, you can still transfer your footage from your mobile camera to your computer and then use your existing video editing software on your computer.
I use AirDroid to drop the video footage recorded from my Android mobile to my laptop. This is a pretty excellent wireless solution that works nicely.
The wired and no fuss solution would be to have an external SSD. The benefit is that it can be connected directly to a smartphone with a USB Type C (mostly all the smartphones did in 2020).
You can move all your footage to the SSD and then connect it to your computer and edit those videos without having to move them to your computer.
Suppose you do not have a powerful computer that is not sufficient to edit videos (we are talking about 1080p videos). In that case, you can take advantage of another fantastic feature of your smartphone: the ability to run apps.
You can install a video editing app on your mobile phone and then directly cut your video.
It takes a little longer to edit videos on a mobile phone because of the limiting screen size and lack of a keyboard, but you are also saving time moving all the footage from your mobile phone to your computer.
Another factor in your favor is that mobile phones can run even 4K videos pretty smoothly. And the fact that they have got batteries, you don’t need to be connected to a power socket when you are editing your video, which means you can edit from anywhere.
So it might take you some time to get used to editing videos on a mobile phone, but you will eventually get accustomed to the ease of editing on a mobile phone.
Once you are done with your edit, you can directly upload it from your mobile phone to YouTube.
I have written a detailed article talking about different video editing software for mobile phones.
But if you are not interested in reading another article, my favorite video editing app for mobile phones would be the Kinemaster app. It’s available for both Android and iOS and was pretty similar on both platforms.
Kinemaster is my favorite because it supports different frame rate projects. For example, if you want to make cinematic kinds of videos, you can select to export your videos in 24fps, which means if you’re going to slow down your 60fps videos on your mobile phone, you can slow it down 40% and still get a smooth video.
Another great thing about the kinemaster app is that it supports multiple layers, which means you can also add overlays to your videos. There are different effects also available to Spice up your videos.
You have to use the app and use it more and more to discover its true potential. However, there is a lot of things that you can do with the kinemaster app.
Lastly, you can follow this tag for all the collections of articles under the mobile filmmaking series.