10 ways to turn your iPhone into a real video camera

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Everyone knows iPhones and other smartphones have good video capability. But most people don’t come even close to using them to their true potential.

Here at SmartVideo, we love shooting video and do it with a range of devices: iPhones, DSLRs and professional video cameras.

With the right knowledge, your humble iPhone can be transformed into a powerful tool for making video.

This can range from near-broadcast quality standard to the kind of wacky viral video that’s eating up YouTube and Facebook.

Broadcast standard? Yes. Did you know the UK’s BBC and Ireland’s RTE – both state-owned broadcasters – have started using iPhones for news-gathering – and it’s not just online news, but for TV bulletins as well.

In the right hands, the iPhone can even be made to shoot movies – check out acclaimed Spanish iPhone moviemaker Conrad Mess if you don’t believe me.

There are so many ways that shooting your own video can enrich your life. For instance:

* Video marketing for your own business

* Enhancing your own personal brand

* Recording those special moments in the lives of those around you

* Making a video diary of your own life

* Uploading wacky videos to social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo and Instagram

But – and it’s a big one – if you’re using video in any way that might connect, even in the most indirect way, with your professional life, it’s critical to get it right. Poor quality, terrible sound and wind noise will all reflect on your own abilities.

You could damage your own personal brand by producing bad video.

So how do you avoid that? Here are SmartVideo’s top 10 tips:

1. Get a tripod. Tripods can cost from a few pounds to thousands of pounds for a serious pro version. But the key thing is to stabilse your shooting. Image stabilisation software is a good thing, but it’s no match for actually having a stable camera.

2. If you have a tripod, you’ll need a mount to attach your iPhone to it. Even cheap ones can be effective. But make sure some basics are covered: for example, it shouldn’t block the phone’s buttons or be overtight, but should be easy to insert and remove. And the locking nut or other method of securing it needs to be compatible with your tripod.

3. Never use digital zoom, it’s terrible. Zoom with your feet – in other words, walk in closer.

4. Pros hardly ever pan – and you shouldn’t. Repeated panning is the mark of an amateur.

5. Learn the Rule of Thirds. Picture composition is very important. Rules are made to be broken, of course – but before you do that you should fundamentally understand how to compose visual images.

6. Understand sound. Sometimes the audio is trickier than the actual image. Swot up on the basics. If you want to read much deeper, start here.

7. Get a microphone. Onboard mics are getting better, but they are still poor in noisy environments. Invest in an external microphone – choose between a lavalier clip mic, a hand-held mic or a radio mic. Lavs are the cheapest.

8. Avoid wind noise like the plague. Nothing screams amateur like irritating wind noise. Even external mics can suffer from it if you don’t have a proper wind cover. You can also buy plug-in micro muffs to help stop the onboard mic from picking up wind.

9. Buy mobile lenses to magnify things, allow you to shoot close-ups of small things or to add filters. Olloclip make good ones.

10. Learn to use editing software, either on your phone or desktop. I’d recommend iMovie on your phone/iPad or Mac, which is free and incredibly intuitive. Then graduate to Final Cut Pro X (pronounced ten, although everybody calls it ‘X’). For PC users, think Adobe, Coral or Pinnacle.

Of course, these 10 tips just scratch the surface of the wonderful world of smartphone video. But they are enough to get you going. Happy shooting – or alternatively, contact SmartVideo: we can shoot, edit and publish for you!


* Paul Connolly is managing director of SmartVideo, a NI-based video production and marketing company. www.smartvideo.media
03 December 2016