• Aurélie

Filming with a Smartphone

Updated: Jun 7, 2021

woman recording video with smartphone
Read the tips to create better videos with your smartphone

Here are some tips for making the best videos with yoursmartphone, with good advice from a specialist, Tony Johnston

Nowadays, more and more people are filming with their smartphones. The quality of cameras on smartphones is more and more efficient. A practical and mobile device, the smartphone can be very advantageous for the spontaneity it allows, and also because it enables you to film without having to buy an additional camera. However, it also has its limits: the quality is lower than with a professional camera, the sensitivity is poor due to the small size of the sensor, the depth of field is large and does not allow background blur, and this device does not have a great dynamic range. In addition, its lightness and small size, which can be an advantage at times, can also be a problem because the device isn’t as stable. As smartphones don’t have optical zooms, but rather digital zooms, your image will also lose quality if you zoom in.

But if you want to film with your smartphone, there are a few ways to get around these drawbacks: by equipping your device with additional equipment, for example, and by filming with an application other than the basic application of your smartphone, which will allow you to play with more settings.

Before embarking on making a video with your smartphone, there are a few essential concepts to understand, as well as certain settings that will guarantee you optimal results. First of all, you will need to check the battery level and storage space of your device in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises. An error that we sometimes see, and which makes some laugh, is the orientation of the device: the videos are turned horizontally!

Some devices offer more advanced settings. If this is the case for your device, here are our recommendations:

· ISO: choose the lowest ISO value (without pushing the image too dark);

· Shutterspeed: 1 / 50s if your smartphone films in 25 frames per second (fps); 1/60 if shooting in 30fps: 1/100 in 50fps, and so on.

· Autofocus: AF-C focus that will allow the camera to focus continuously.

Tony Johnston is a producer and videographer with a video production company specializing in corporate videos, animation and podcasts. It also offers video narration courses on smartphones. He kindly agreed to answer my questions in order to share some advice on this rapidly expanding means of production.

Here are his responses:

For what type of production will it be advantageous to film with your smartphone?

" Smartphone video is excellent for employee-generated content. Quick 'run & gun' short interviews with colleagues, internal communications updates to embed in newsletters or press releases and 'Behind the scenes' insights of company events and activities. It can be a lot of fun and the key is to practice, practice, practice and experiment with smart phone video features."

What are the main advantages and disadvantages of smartphone video?

" There is an old saying, that 'the best camera, is the one you have with you.' People have their smart phones with them most of the time, so when a spontaneous opportunity arises to create a short piece of content, the smartphone is ideal as both a high-quality stills and video camera. The main advantages of smartphone video are the portability, immediacy and relatively lower cost to create semi-professional video content quickly and easily. One of the biggest disadvantages for me, is the average audio quality. The built-in microphones are not good for professional quality audio recording and require additional external microphones to achieve better sound quality. "

Do you use a specific application for filming or the basic smartphone application?

" 'iMovie' for IOS devices is my go-to app, for easy mobile editing. 'FilmicPro' is the industry standard App for recording high-quality video on a smartphone and 'Luma Fusion' is excellent for in-App editing. "

Is it essential to invest in additional equipment to be "grafted" onto the smartphone?

"Yes, additional equipment will give your smartphone video a higher-end look and feel. A small tripod or gimbal is advisable for stable shots (cold shoe mounts on the tripod can also allow you attach extra gear), an external professional microphone and adapters to connect to the phone and a small portable light can be useful. Smartphone video accessories have become very popular and you can now buy anything that you can get for larger professional cameras, for mobile video devices. I've even got a small motorised 'slider' for my phone, to get nice, smooth shots just like they use on large TV commercial and film shoots! "

Regarding the gear to add: do you have any to recommend? Brands, models in particular? About how much does it cost to equip yourself well?

"Additional equipment can be readily purchased online and for less than $200, you could purchase a basic accessories kit. Of course, you can spend much more and I have spent more on accessories than the cost of the phone, to achieve higher-quality video. 'Joby' and 'Manfredo' brands have excellent tripods for smart devices and I like 'Rode' microphones. "

What about the files? What quality?

"Depending on the project, I try to film in 4K quality. 1080p is also acceptable and some smart phone video Apps will only allow 1080p for certain functions. For file transfers, I use cloud storage Apps on the phone, to transfer the video files directly from the phone and upload for further editing or file hosting on desktop computers, if required."

Tony Johnston is a Swiss-based journalist and content producer, with over 30 years of broadcast media experience. You can visit his website here.

As you can see by reading this short interview, filming with a smartphone allows many possibilities and the guarantee of a satisfactory result, provided you have certain knowledge and a minimum of additional material.

However, good technical equipment does not always equate to good video. Even for spontaneous shots, it is just as important to work on the concept of your video as well as the framing and the overall way of filming. This is learned with experience and by watching other videos for inspiration. Now you have a few key tips to get started in smartphone video production. If you prefer to leave this mission to professionals, do not hesitate to contact SmartCuts for the production of high-end videos.

SmartCuts is a well-established creative video company based in the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland.

We provide a comprehensive creative communication service, including:

· Digital solutions and services - website, mobile apps, email and social media marketing

· Brand marketing - design, identity, graphic charter, logos, brand content and more

· Video marketing - corporate video production, teasers, social media videos, promotions

· Graphic design

· Animation - 2D, 3D, hand drawn, whiteboard, animation

· Documentary production

· Interactive video

· Live events

· Virtual and hybrid events

· Live streaming solutions

· Drone filming

· 360 ° green screen production studio

· Photography

· Virtual and augmented reality

· Management of video resources

· Video strategy

· Training in video production