Your phone can take you to Cannes, and we don’t mean by us­ing the Qan­tas app


Some smart­phones are pack­ing high-end video fea­tures that are good enough for film­mak­ers – Sun­dance fes­ti­val hit Tan­ger­ine and Steven Soder­bergh’s Un­sane were both shot on iPhone. There was, of course, a ta­lented pro­duc­tion team also in­volved in mak­ing those movies. How­ever, if there’s just you, a few mates and a hunger for film­mak­ing, some well-cho­sen kit and a lit­tle know-how will en­able you to cre­ate your own film. Or even just a stel­lar home movie.

When it comes to gear, there are some es­sen­tials: you’ll need a DJI OSMO Mo­bile 2 to sta­bilise footage, a Rode VideoMi­cro to cap­ture au­dio, Manfrotto’s Lumimuse LED light to il­lu­mi­nate your ac­tors, and the Filmic Pro app (from $18.99) to boost your phone’s film­mak­ing po­ten­tial. These are just the ba­sics and all are rel­a­tively in­ex­pen­sive. You can also add ex­tras such as the Ol­lo­clip Filmer’s kit, which gives you a range of lens op­tions for ex­tra style.

Next, con­sider the video res­o­lu­tion. You have a choice of 4K or 1080p on most cur­rent phones, but how do you de­cide? You should def­i­nitely film in 4K if you can, but cre­ate your fi­nal ver­sion in 1080p Full HD. Do­ing it this way gives you ex­tra flex­i­bil­ity so that you can re­com­pose the scene post-shoot­ing by crop­ping into the high­er­res video. If no crop­ping is re­quired, gain bet­ter-qual­ity video turn­ing 4K into 1080p through a process called ‘over­sam­pling’. Ba­si­cally, each pixel in the fi­nal 1080p vid will have four pix­els of 4K video in­for­ma­tion to draw from, so you get sharper de­tail and more re­al­is­tic colours.

Al­though iOS and An­droid come with video apps, these are pretty ba­sic. Equip your phone in­stead with an app that has more clout. Filmic Pro is fea­ture packed and en­ables you to in­crease the bit-rate at which video is cap­tured, equat­ing to lit­er­ally more data per frame – and the more data you cap­ture, the more de­tail the video can con­tain.

With the foun­da­tions taken care of, we can now look at the han­dling of your smart­phone as a su­per-portable film rig. To avoid shaky footage, in­vest in a sta­biliser. The DJI OSMO Mo­bile 2 is a gim­bal and grip that sup­ports you in hold­ing the cam­era com­fort­ably and ab­sorb­ing your nat­u­ral hand twitches to make move­ment smoother.

Due to the way video com­pres­sion works, hav­ing sta­ble footage helps with the over­all de­tail and qual­ity. To save data, videos re­use as much of the frame as they can, so new data is only used for ar­eas that change. If your footage wob­bles, each frame re­quires more in­for­ma­tion about what has changed. There is an up­per limit, though, so de­tail has to be binned to catch all of the move­ment. Less un­nec­es­sary move­ment means more de­tail.

Al­though au­dio is often over­looked, it can el­e­vate the qual­ity of your film. The Rode VideoMi­cro can help here and is easy to use – plug it in and the mic han­dles the rest.

Light­ing is an es­sen­tial el­e­ment, and the Manfrotto Lumimuse is an ex­cel­lent choice for this. When us­ing it to il­lu­mi­nate a sub­ject, only in­crease the bright­ness of the LEDs so that they just start to brighten the face or scene. You want light­ing to lift the scene, not drown it in un­nat­u­ral light. Re­mem­ber: some shad­ows are good be­cause they help to cre­ate struc­ture and depth.

And that’s it! Now that you have learned about the es­sen­tial kit and the ba­sics of film­mak­ing, the next part is down to you and your cre­ativ­ity.

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