Gear doesn’t matter: here’s how to shoot a high-quality movie with your smartphone

Aug 2, 2017

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Gear doesn’t matter: here’s how to shoot a high-quality movie with your smartphone

Aug 2, 2017

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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“Gear doesn’t matter.” You may agree with this statement or not, but it’s definitely the case if you have a good idea and an engaging story to tell with your photos or films. Sure, expensive gear can make the job easier, but what if you don’t have a high budget? Well, in that case – just shoot with what you have in your pockets – a smartphone.

Ryan Connolly of Film Riot gives you some guidelines how to shoot a high-quality video using nothing but your smartphone camera. He gives his own example of a very file-looking sketch he filmed with an iPhone, along with the advantages and challenges you’ll have with this approach.

YouTube video

Ryan says that the app you use for shooting is a very important part of the process. In his case, he uses Filmic Pro. It’s available for both Android and iOS, so you can use it if you don’t use an iPhone. It lets you choose various shooting settings, such as quality, frame rate, audio, focus, exposure and so on. You can lock focus and exposure, and from what I see – it seems intuitive and easy to use. He sets the quality to 4K, and many modern smartphones have this option.

You should also provide proper stabilization. Ryan uses DJI Osmo gimbal, which you can synch with Filmic Pro app. When you’re done with the shooting, it’s good to know that you can fix a lot of issues in After Effects or the editor of your choice. It won’t be all sunshine and roses to shoot with a phone, so you’ll need to spend some time in post. And while we’re at it, let’s see some of the challenges you’ll be facing.

Challenges

You can certainly get great results on a smartphone, but of course – it will take you more time. Expensive gear isn’t essential for storytelling, but it does save you a lot of trouble when it comes to technical aspects of filming.

As for the iPhone, in Ryan’s case, it happened that it produced shots a with different exposure, quality, and color profile, even though he set everything up and locked the exposure and focus. At the same time, it was difficult to see the screen in the bright sunlight, which made it harder to see whether the settings were correct. If you plan to shoot with a smartphone, these are some of the issues you may face as well.

Another problem is overheating. When iPhone overheats, it just switches off. If this happens in the middle of shooting, you’ll lose the footage you’ve been filming. This can be a source of frustration, but keep it in mind so you can prevent the phone from overheating.

Basically, Ryan did the shooting without preparation to see how intuitive it would be to shoot with a smartphone. If you rely on his experience, prepare well and take the measures against overheating, you may spend less time shooting and post-processing the footage.

Conclusion

Frankly, I can’t say gear isn’t important. Professional equipment gives you stellar image quality and saves you time, because it’s easier to work with. But, if the lack of pro gear stops you from expressing yourself and your ideas – that’s what you need to overcome. If you have good ideas and not so good gear, who cares? Express yourself and shoot away, even if it’s just with your smartphone. If you invest some time and skill in it, it will sure turn out great.

[How to contact and book a photoshoot with a model | Film Riot]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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13 responses to “Gear doesn’t matter: here’s how to shoot a high-quality movie with your smartphone”

  1. KC Avatar
    KC

    To a degree, it does. The cost of rigging a phone with the add-ons can surpass a dedicated video camera. A dedicated camera also has a zoom lens. On the plus side, a smartphone makes for a great mobile broadcast rig.

  2. Chris Lapointe Avatar
    Chris Lapointe

    Gear doesn’t matter. Shot on iPhone.

    1. Dunja Đuđić Avatar
      Dunja Đuđić

      Haha. :) Some videos are shot this way, too, but the one in the article was just iPhone and gimbal. And some tinfoil to help with overheating :D

    2. Chris Lapointe Avatar
      Chris Lapointe

      Dunja Đuđić hehe! I’m definitely over exaggerating!! ???

  3. Laurent Roy Avatar
    Laurent Roy

    DIYPhotography I have a question : what is the cost of all the other gear used to make this clip ?

    1. Dunja Đuđić Avatar
      Dunja Đuđić

      Judging from the video, they only used an iPhone, a DJI Osmo gimbal, the Filmic Pro app and the After Effects. And a whole lot of time, I guess. Although, yeah, often a lot of additional gear is used alongside with smartphones to get good shots.

    2. Laurent Roy Avatar
      Laurent Roy

      Looking back at the video, you’re forgetting the huge tripod, the lighting gear, the sound recording gear, softwares…
      So, I’m still waiting for DIYPhotography answer…

  4. Alexandre Bettencourt Avatar
    Alexandre Bettencourt

    These days creativity is limited by nothing. There has never been an age where professional results were so attainable with all the tools and resources that are out there. I’m sure George Lucas would have killed to have an inexpensive lighting kit and chroma key screen just to shoot the Millenium Falcon. Technically speaking, it’s a remarkable era. Now it’s just up to the creator to deliver.

    1. Dunja Đuđić Avatar
      Dunja Đuđić

      Well said! :)

    2. Alexandre Bettencourt Avatar
      Alexandre Bettencourt

      Dunja Đuđić It just dawned on me that George Lucas actually helped create the non-linear editing system we grew accustomed to. Like the one Film Riot and so many other editors like myself end up using. Interesting coincidence :)

  5. cdmphoto Avatar
    cdmphoto

    Thanks DIY photography for taking the time to write an article and not just copy and paste a video like other websites usually do. Some of us still like to read not to watch a video

  6. Todd Sipes Avatar
    Todd Sipes

    DIYPhotography please stop telling me that my smartphone is “good enough.” You’re wrong on many levels.

  7. Ole Wolf Avatar
    Ole Wolf

    Shouldn’t software apps be considered part of your gear?