September 29, 2016

How to: Shooting sexy, pro video on mobile

To kick off the “Get Reel” video series, we’re beginning with the most ubiquitous and accessible medium available: mobile.

There are more and more videographers choosing to shoot high quality, commercial grade video with their phones these days. And why not? You can get good image quality with fantastic colours in bright light. Your phone is always kicking around, so you rarely run the risk of missing that perfect video opportunity. You can get great image stabilization and time-lapse applications. And there are countless Apps to help with exceptional capture and processing — all with your little digital pocket buddy of good times.

There are, however, weaknesses inherent in using your phone to shoot video. But with some tweaking and expertise, you can avoid phone pitfalls and shoot impressively professional grade stock video.

Shot with Filmic Pro on iPhone 6 and graded with Chromic. Video by Kynan Tait on Stocksy United.

Light is Key

Smartphone cameras have smaller image sensors and lenses so lighting variations have a huge impact on the quality of your video.

Try as much as possible to shoot in brightly lit areas. Highlights will blow easily, so experiment with underexposing slightly in high contrast scenes.

On the other end of the spectrum, avoid shooting into strong light sources as smartphone lenses are highly prone to flare.

You can also try using the “touch focus” option when shooting so your phone will hold focus and be less likely to flare up in changes of light.

If you want to just have at her and shoot, try using an app, like our favourite — Filmic Pro. It will give you manual control over exposure to help with tricky lighting and expertly resolve the issues listed above.

Shot with Filmic Pro on iPhone 6 using a Olloclip telephoto and a DJI Osmo Mobile. Video by Kynan Tait on Stocksy United.

Steady As She Goes

Unless it’s an intended, well-executed artistic decision — shaky video sucks. If you don’t want your video footage to accidentally come out distorted, blurred, or affected by rolling shutter, keep your phone steady.

Most often, your silly humanoid arms and hands won’t do the job — cameras can pick up variations caused by your bloody heartbeat. You’ll likely need to add stabilizers, tripods and camera cages to your arsenal to get even footage. Iographer carries a pretty extensive line of stabilizers and videography bundles. DJI also just released the best looking gimbal for your phone.

Phone contract coming up any time soon? New jeans have giant, oversized pockets? The 6s Plus and 7 feature an optical image stabilizer not available in the standard 6s.

Shot with Filmic Pro on iPhone 6 using a DJI Osmo Mobile. Video by Kynan Tait on Stocksy United.

Don't be a victim to Vertical Video Syndrome (VVS)

Many will warn you to never ever, ever, ever shoot video in upright ‘portrait’ orientation — meaning if you hold your phone vertically, videos played back on any other screen will get chopped and choked out by the black bars of dead space.

That being said, shooting in portrait orientation can create a really unique effect. Videographers are experimenting with upright mobile shots and getting some beautiful results.

If you feel like being creative and pushing some envelopes, start playing with portrait mode — just be sure it’s intentional and doesn’t end up like your Aunt Margaret’s video of the squirrels in her backyard.

Vertical video shot with Filmic Pro on an iPhone 6 using a Olloclip telephoto. Video by Kynan Tait on Stocksy United

Vertical video shot with Hyperlapse for image stabilization. Video by Stalman & Boniecka on Stocksy United

Embrace the Future

You can now shoot 4k on most newer phones which is equally exciting and plain crazy.

4k is a video specification that literally just refers to a horizontal resolution of approximately 4,000 pixels.

Even the best quality, 1080p HD footage is only 1920 pixels across. 4k is significantly more detailed, since it has twice as many pixels horizontally, and four times as many pixels in total.

What does this mean for you? You can shoot crystal clear, smoking hot video from your pants computer whenever you want. So long as you haven’t junked up your memory with photos of your cat.

Juice Up and Get Your Story Straight

Speaking of storage, before you step out the door to go shoot, make sure your phone is fully juiced and that you have enough memory available to store the footage – HD and 4k video files can get large and will drain the shit out of your battery. Better yet, bring an external battery if you’re shooting all day. Anker makes premium portable batteries with the capacity to charge the iPhone 6 ten times and 75% faster than a regular charger.

To avoid potential battery disasters, get your storyboard, actors, and all props organized and ready to go prior to shoot day. Aside from potentially wasting precious battery life, willy-nillying a video shot can greatly increase the probability of your eyeballs evaporating while weeding through 10+ hours of footage — that’s a lot of visine for a 30-second clip.

Finish it With an App

The standard camera app on your phone is generally okay for random Snapchat snippets but if you want to take your shoots to the next level, acquiring an app or two can make a magnificent difference. Some are free and will improve filming capabilities, but if you choose to shell out a few bucks, your video shooting and editing qualities will skyrocket exponentially.

Here’s a list of our favourites right now:

6 Stand Out Video Filming and Editing Apps

  2. iMOVIE (iOS)
  3. CHROMIC (iOS)
  4. KINEMASTER (Android)
  5. SPLICE by GoPro (iOS)
  6. MAGISTO (iOS & Android)

Ready? Action!

With the rapidly advancing image capturing technology in mobile devices, shooting high quality video is becoming easier and more accessible than ever. If you’ve been considering shooting some reels on your smartphone, take her for a spin. Follow some simple guidelines, get yourself some gadgets and get filming.

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