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How to shoot a professional video on a smartphone

Have you ever thought you might like to try your hand at film directing? While big budget blockbusters and dizzying special effects still draw in huge crowds of cinema-goers, there could be a far more accessible way for budding Scorsese’s to get their names up in lights.

The humble smartphone now contains such advanced technology it can produce high-quality cinematic images. Good enough to get the attention of international film festivals and A-list stars like Sir Ian McKellen and Kristen Stewart.

With famous film directors like Steven Soderbergh and Paolo Sorrentino saying smartphones are heralding a new age for cinema, could it be time to shoot a future classic on your phone?

But while it’s no longer a question of being able to secure a big movie deal, you still need vision, talent and to really know your way around a smartphone camera.

With that in mind we’ve put together this handy ‘how to’ guide to some of the basics you need to follow to give your smartphone movie that star quality.

When you’ve gone to all this effort you don’t want to be let down by inappropriate iPhone insurance that leaves you without cover if the worst should happen. Speak to our helpful team today to make sure you’ve got something to celebrate when the director says ‘it’s a wrap!’.

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Top tips for terrific video

Billions of videos are being watched on YouTube and Facebook every single day. So being able to produce a professional video in super-quick time is becoming a key skill in both personal and professional lives. But while smartphone technology has developed to such an extent that professional quality is available at the touch of a button, the skills of phone users hasn’t necessarily kept pace.

From thinking about the right lighting to investing in the most helpful accessories, here are some top tips to help you create professional videos using your smartphone in no time.

Film in landscape

An obvious common mistake when starting out is to use portrait orientation when recording video footage. Unless you really want those two black vertical bars down both sides of your video, turn your phone to landscape orientation while filming.

This will make your video much more pleasurable to watch when viewed on widescreen or television. It also means you'll tend to capture more action in the video – very useful if you’re filming a group or crowd of people. Whether corporate events or school theatre productions you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck!

Don’t forget composition and framing

We’ve all seen footage of directors racing around sets using their fingers to quickly frame and compose shots. And if it’s good enough for them then it’s good enough for you. Fortunately, most smartphone camera software gives you the option to enable gridlines. This means that when shooting you’ll be able to see vertical and horizontal grids on the screen.

Using the popular 'rule of thirds', with a bit of practice you’ll soon be able to use the lines to balance the composition of the shot and perfect that professional look. Just play around and see what looks best. Who says you need years of film school to create beautiful cinematography?

Zoom sparingly, if at all

When videos zoom in and out too much it can quickly leave a viewer feeling seasick. To avoid creating feelings of nausea, either move closer to your subject or else invest in a clip-on telephoto lens to help.

If you do decide to zoom then always use your smartphone’s optical zoom (if it has one) rather than digital zoom. Digital zoom is avoided by any videographer worth their salt owing to increased pixelation and the rapid drop in quality of the image.

Thankfully, most of the top-of-the-range smartphones now come with optical zoom, which lets you zoom in without losing any of that crisp, vivid detail. So, if you’re really wanting to zoom in on grandma’s wrinkles then you now know how!

Take care of lighting

No matter how great the setting and how well composed the shot, countless numbers of smartphone photos and videos have been ruined by poor lighting. And when it comes to low light there are few smartphones out there that will continue to shoot great footage in such conditions.

Obviously, the best (and most flattering) choice is always to use natural light, but this isn’t always possible. Thankfully you can pick up relatively cheap ring lights and kits which will do a much better lighting job than your phone’s LED flash!

It’s also worth looking through the whole variety of tips and tricks that filmmakers use to get the right look. From using your phone’s flashlight to create a backlight to cool tricks for creating the right mood there’s bound to be someone with a neat and nifty technique that’s worth trying!

Get smooth footage with image stabilization

Even just a few short years ago a video shot on your phone’s camera would easily end up looking like something from an 80s B-movie – or worse. This was due to handshake and other vibrations when shooting. However, the arrival of electronic and optical image stabilisation in recent years has led to a fantastic smoothing out of smartphone videos. That’s why image optimization has become pretty much standard on any decent smartphone.

Add some special effects

Putting together an exciting, effects-filled video is not just for Hollywood movie moguls. Even everyday consumers now have the power to shoot quality visual effects right on their phones.

Whether you’re a user of Snapchat, Instagram or any number of other video sharing apps, exploring the range of special effects, sounds, filters and lenses they have on offer could totally change the way you shoot video. There are also a huge number of video editing apps worth downloading on both iPhone and Android phones.

Check the sound quality

Professional videos not only need to look good, but also need to sound good, too! So, always remember to try to shoot your videos in a quiet location so viewers can hear the audio clearly.

Pack these accessories to get that cinema look and sound

We love our smartphones but, if we’re being honest, we know they don’t always quite measure up to professional kit made by Canon, Nikon or Sony. So, if you want to take your smartphone video skills to the next level, without having to buy an expensive DSLR, you’ll want to consider buying some accessories to up your camera’s capabilities. Add these to your to-buy list and you’ll soon be shooting movies like a pro.

  • Tripod - A tripod helps to reduce the chance of any movement ruining your shot and lets you easily adjust the height and position of your camera. Helping create a much more professional-looking video.
  • Creative lens kits - Fisheye and macro lenses, as well as wide-angle, super wide-angle and telephoto lenses all create a vast number of possibilities you can explore with a simple lens kit. Some require a special case to attach the lens to your phone while others simply clip on.
  • Gimbal - If you're moving to follow a subject or using the camera to pan or orbit around an object or person, you’ll need something extra to keep that professional vibe flowing. Your best bet is getting a physical gimbal that works with your phone to give you a clean, cinematic look you'd struggle to get shooting handheld.
  • Microphone - The built-in microphone in your smartphone might do the job for calls and quick voice memos, but it will lack the quality needed for professional video. So, improve your video clips with one quick fix, buy yourself an external microphone.
  • LED lighting panel - Filming is all about light, and if you’re shooting on the go and need some extra help in dark environments then a portable mini LED light will allow you to get better results.
  • Microfibre - cleaning cloth Cheap and oh-so-useful accessories indeed. Smartphones and their camera lenses will soon get dirty and oily. This results in blurry or smudged images, so make sure to keep the lens clean with a microfibre cleaning cloth. A corner of your T-shirt simply won’t do!
  • Portable battery pack - If you’re shooting high-definition videos throughout the day a portable battery pack will be your best friend. You don’t want a dead phone just when you’ve got the perfect take!
  • Case and screen protector - A no-brainer really. When you’re shooting great video content it’s easy to become distracted and end up dropping your beautiful phone. A decent screen protector and case are the bare minimum to protect your tech from harm.

Accessories, and particularly those made specially for iPhones, can be a substantial investment. If you have iPhone insurance from Gadget Cover then these can be covered (up to £150) if they’re lost, stolen or damaged at the same time as your handset. Give our team a call to check your coverage.

Cooking Video

Download the right video editing software

Even the greatest creative geniuses don’t always get it right the first time. Once shooting has finished there’s still a lot of work to be completed in post-production. So, to give any video that truly professional sheen you’ll need some video editing software in your smartphone armoury.

Fortunately it’s no longer necessary to invest in fancy desktop software to get that Hollywood feel. You can do some pretty intense editing right there on your smartphone as well!

Both iOS and Android phones pack some great video-editing options straight out of the box. From basic trimming to adding transitions, titles, and effects, it’s all so simple when you get to grips with your phone’s remarkable capabilities.

If you’re an Apple enthusiast then start off with Apple’s own home-grown iMovie which includes lots of simple and easy-to-use editing tools including titles and transitions, picture-in-picture, split screen, and slow-motion effects.

If you’re looking for more advanced video editing software then you might need to explore other apps such as Final Cut Pro or LumaFusion. LumaFusion is a great budget option at £28.99 while Final Cut Pro gives you more professional features for £299.99!

For Android users the best current video editing app seems to be KineMaster. But note that the free version adds a watermark to videos, which you have to take out a subscription to remove. If you don’t fancy that then take a look at the FilmoraGo app. 

Best phones for filmmakers

With more and more people reaching for their smartphones to shoot video, we need to know which smartphones boast the best shooting capabilities. After much consideration, we’ve picked out three of the best options currently out there.

  1. Sony Xperia 1 II – An excellent smartphone for video shooting, it really shows what these pocket-sized wonders are capable of. It can shoot in 4K resolution, demonstrates stunning colour contrast and you can even video in slow motion.
  2. iPhone 12 Pro Max – Undoubtedly one of the most versatile phones on the market perfect for any budding videographer. Very highly rated phone with proper wow-factor.
  3. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – One of the most highly rated smartphones of the moment it’s no surprise to find that it’s also one of the best phones for video.

Get iPhone insurance through Gadget Cover

One of the first things that many new iPhone owners do is to use their purchase to take some video.

It really is the perfect way to get to know your new phone, but you still need insurance protection. That’s why the team at Gadget Cover are always searching for iPhone insurance policies suitable for every device, requirement and budget.

The policies we offer include protection against accidental damage, liquid damage, theft, breakdown and unauthorised usage as standard. And for an extra premium, your iPhone will be covered against loss, too.

Additional benefits include family cover to extend protection to your immediate family, worldwide cover to include use of your iPhone anywhere in the world, and e-Wallet cover up to £500.

Get a quick quote for iPhone insurance from Gadget Cover today.

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.

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