The best settings to create cinematic footage on your mobile phone

Dec 28, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

The best settings to create cinematic footage on your mobile phone

Dec 28, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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For some, the humble mobile phone is their weapon fo choice when it comes to shooting video. For others, it’s simply what they have with them at the time. But regardless of which category we fall into, we want to get the best footage we can. A phone’s only ever going to be so good, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make the effort. In this video from the folks over at Moment Lenses, we see how best to use Filmic Pro to get the most cinematic footage out of our phones.

YouTube video

Sometimes I use my phone out of necessity. I see something and it’s all that I’ve got with me. But I’ll often use it as part of a production with mirrorless and DSLR cameras. It can be great on a gimbal like the Smooth-C to grab some quick b-roll or 120fps slow motion. I’ve been a user and big fan of Filmic Pro myself for a number of years. I use it with both iOS and Android devices, and it never fails to beat out the default apps that come with each. It’s also way better than most of the alternatives out there.

But there are things you need to bear in mind, which are covered in the video. And you’ll want to run through a checklist of settings to get nice smooth and cinematic footage.

  • Resolution
  • Bitrate
  • Frame rate
  • White balance

Personally I always go manual exposure, too. I try to keep my shutter speed as close to 1/50th of a second as possible (if I’m shooting at 24fps) and adjust exposure with ISO. This can be difficult with a mobile device, especially in bright light. They often have fairly wide apertures of between f/1.8 and f/2.8, and even if they go down to ISO25, that only helps so much. If you find you can’t get your shutter slow enough, ND filters can help.

One thing touched on in the video is slow motion. They do stress that the simple act of going slow motion doesn’t just make a clip cinematic. There’s a lot more to it than that, and even slow motion can look not very good if it’s done badly.

And, of course, they suggest trying to break out of the default focal length of your phone by using external lens attachments. Naturally, they recommend Moment lenses, but there are others out there, even from companies like Zeiss.

Definitely do try Filmic Pro, though, if you’ve not been happy with the video you get out of your phone. It’s well worth it.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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