We post fairly regularly about various tricks for getting better photos with your phone. Rarely, though, is there a focus on video. Lately, though, it seems that video is a more common occurrence with our phones than stills. You don’t need a bunch of fancy expensive rigs and lenses to make the most of it, though.
This video from Kai Wong, brings us 10 inexpensive tricks and hacks for getting better video with our mobile devices. So, get your egg timers and spring clamps ready, and have a watch of this.
1. Good Audio
Remember that video is comprised of two parts. There’s the visual and then there’s the audio. People will happily watch a video with good audio and bad visuals, but you could have the most beautifully shot footage in the world with horrible sound and they’ll tune out in 5 seconds. So, Kai’s first tip is about the audio.
Kai uses a Rode VideoMic Me and a Rode smartLav+. While you can use the phone’s internal microphone, you’re never going to get the sound quality you’ll get with an external microphone. If you spend on only just one thing, an external microphone has got to be it. When I replaced my iPhone 4S with an upgrade a few years ago, it went to live in a drawer. Now it’s become my go-to low budget, low weight audio recorder along with the smartLav+. A great little microphone.
2. Shoot closeups
Don’t feel that you need to spend a fortune on lenses. Sure, Zeiss make some excellent ones, as do many other 3rd parties. But you don’t need fancy lenses. You just need to get creative.
3. Shoot with adequate lighting
Phones have teeny tiny sensors. So their low light performance isn’t that great. There are reviews online that make some look really good, but in the real world, it just isn’t going to happen. So, shoot somewhere that gets some good natural light, or pick up some artificial lights. With small ringlights for only $5.99 each, they’re really not all that expensive.
4. ND Sunglasses (Polariser, too!)
Getting your shutter speed slow is often far more important for video than it is for stills. It’s super fast shutter speeds that give the game away with low budget video. Use sunglasses to cut some of the light from hitting the sensor outdoors. Bonus points if they’re polarised shades!
5. Enable stabilisation
Most smartphones today have some form of stabilisation built in. For most phones it’s electronic, but for a few it’s optical. Don’t be afraid to use it to help steady your shots while handholding. It’s a lot cheaper than using a gimbal. Although, it won’t quite give you the same look as a gimbal.
6. Clamp, stick or suck your phone to things
Spring clamps are fantastic things. They’ll allow you to attach your phone to things you never thought possible before. You can attach your phone to a shopping trolley, a shelf, a branch, anything.
If you don’t fancy clamping, the easiest way to get your camera up high is to simply tape it to a wall or a window. Tape is cheap, we’ve all got some form of it or another in our homes. So, break it out and use it. As long as it’ snot covering the lens, you’re good.
Suction mounts are another option that is really cheap now. There are basic ones, designed for holding your phone, typically used when your phone is acting as a GPS which are very inexpensive. But even more robust ones aren’t that expensive. Those triple ones will even hold a DSLR with a stronger ball head.
They’re fantastic for sticking at the top of windows to get a high vantage point. Or, attach them to the inside or outside of your car for a driving timelapse.
7. Use headphones as a remote trigger
This is a well known trick for stills. Hit the volume up button on your headphones and your camera app takes a photo. Well, it’ll work for video with a lot of apps, too. Click it once to start recording. Click it again to stop.
8. Box Slider
There’s no need to spend a bunch of money on a slider for your phone. There are many situations where a humble cardboard box on a clean smooth flat surface will do the job just as well.
9. Egg Timer Timelapse
Timelapses are always best with some motion. Fancy motion control systems are expensive, though. Fortunately, with phones being as light as they are, an inexpensive egg timer can easily rotate them. In comes those clamps again to hold one to the other.
10. Repurpose those useless Fidget Spinners
These can make great, very loose pan heads for a phone. Simply tape a lens mount cap to the top of it, attach a phone clamp, and you’re good to go.
So, there’s a bunch of low budget tips to help give you some new ideas for your mobile videos. The microphone one might be a little expensive, but sound really is the most important part of shooting video. There are lower budget microphones out there. I’ve tried a few of them myself, and it really was worth getting the smartLav+.
I’d also suggest looking into getting a copy of FiLMiC Pro if you want to get more serious about your mobile video.