The best camera is the one you always have with you. With apps such as Vine and Instagram video, mobile cinematography is taking off. And while taking video using your smartphone is simple, a few tips and tricks can help yours stand out from the pack.
Latest phones are great for video
Bigger screens and the ability to shoot high-res 1080p video have been a boon to mobile videographers. The HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 set a new standard for video phones with 4.7- and 5-inch screens, 1080p display and full HD video recording. IPhone screens don't have the resolution to show all that detail, but you will see it when sharing to other sites and watching on your TV.
Zoom is particularly important for adding variety to video. Most smartphones offer only digital zoom, which can make your shots appear grainy. Instead, try a snap-on telephoto lens.
Smartphone filming basics
Before turning to apps, remember that no fancy filter can compensate for poorly shot video. So keep these basic rules in mind:
- When outdoors, shoot with the sun behind you. Better yet, film on cloudy days whenever possible for less glare.
- Use a tripod for smoother tilts and pans and to record most types of events. No tripod? Keep your phone as close to your body as possible where it will be the most steady — and hold your breath.
- For panoramas (without a tripod), don't use your arms to move the camera from side to side, as that causes jitters, Instead, try this: Stand with your toes pointing toward where the shot will end and then twist your body in the opposite direction, holding the camera close to your face. Begin filming and slowly turn your body back to your starting position.
- Most smartphone cameras don't perform well in dim light, but turning on the flash can result in overexposed footage, resulting in your friends looking like ghosts. Take a test shot and look for ways to add additional light — can you move toward a window or reposition a lamp?
- Don't be afraid to move around: shoot high, shoot low, get in close on the action.
- Taking a cue from filmmakers, shoot opening and closing sequences that establish location or the mood for your video. Remember, every good video has a beginning, a middle and an end — even if it's just six seconds long.