Tools for filming on iPhone
It’s pretty amazing the kind of video quality you can get from a simple iPhone. With the iPhone 4 you can film in 720P and with the iPhone 4S you get up to 1080P! But to get the optimal quality, you are going to need some tools to help you. The first example I found was when the iPhone 4 was released some guys made this film, all made with the iPhone, including the editing. Soon after the release of the iPhone 4S, this example showed up on Vimeo. This is also a good example of the kind of quality you can achieve with just good lighting and some creativity.
But to be able to get good quality out of your phone, you need some tools to help you.
First off, try to get a tripod to get steady video. Everyone hates shaky videos (except Bruckheimer but we all know he’s shite). Getting handheld video to look good is difficult. The problem with rolling shutter makes it even worse with digital cameras. This doesn’t mean you have to get a big mofo tripod, remember, the iPhone is light an very portable so a small one goes a long way. There’s a plethora of choices to choose from. GorillaMobile for iPhone 4 is a great one, because you can wrap it around almost anything. I already have a small foldable tripod so I got the GLIF that also works as a stand for the phone when writing or watching movies. And for special effects there’s also the trusty old gaffer tape so you can tape it to anything (see train sequence above).
There’s a reason you find a lot of nicely filmed films on sites like Vimeo that have excellent video quality but only a music soundtrack. One of the hardest things to get right is sound. The build in microphone on the iPhone works great for calling, but for video there’s some cheap gadgets to improve sound quality. This one is called Brando Workshop Flexible Mini Capsule Microphone for iPhone/iPad and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
This microphone boosts the audio signal that makes for a less noisy audio. It has the added benefit of being able to swivel towards the source, for even better sound. It’s very cheap, so it’s a great value for money. Because of it’s small size it’s easy to always have it with you. Great for recording meetings and lectures as well.
Here’s the iPhone with both the GLIF and the microphone mounted.
To get more control over focus, exposure, frame rate and white-balance there is an app with more features than the standard photo app in iOS. The app is called Filmic Pro. It’s cheap and well worth the money.
Remember to put your iPhone in airplane mode to minimize interference from the 3G and wifi network, or even that annoying call from your boss in the middle of filming!
Hopefully you now have got some pointers to start filming with better quality. This will not get you pro video-audio quality, but it will improve your films for a small sum of money. And if you find that you create some good stuff, you can always start spending money on a Canon 5D Mark II and go nuts. There is no end of what you can buy when it comes to video.
In our next installment we’ll take a closer look at Filmic Pro and how we can improve the quality using this app.