Join Ashley Kennedy for an in-depth discussion in this video An introduction to mobile filmmaking equipment, part of Making Video 2: Teach Something.
- Mobile filmmaking with smartphones is a very new and very exciting craft. Until recently, smartphone video cameras simply weren't capable of recording a high-enough-quality image to make mobile filmmaking worthwhile. But now, it's definitely come to the point where most of us truly have an incredible video camera right in our pockets. With a bit of enhancement in terms of audio, lighting, stability, lenses, as well as some additional internal camera control, the phone can become a dynamic and professional filmmaking powerhouse.
So in this movie, we'll cover the basics of some useful mobile filmmaking equipment, and in the next movie, I'll show you a really great video camera app called Filmic Pro, which can give us all of that extra camera control we need in terms of adjusting our exposure, focus, color balance, and more. All right. So as you can see, I have a fair amount of equipment here. Before I start, I just want to mention that most of this comes from a company called iOgrapher, which specializes in doing exactly what I just mentioned: turning smartphones into mobile filmmaking powerhouses.
At the end of this video, I'll tell you about an educational discount that you can use if you'd like. So I start with the phone itself, which is the center of everything. I then give it a home. And there are many options, but I'll show you one solution, which is the iOgrapher case. This is for two main things: to offer stability and to act as a hub for accessories. In terms of stability, it's great. The phone securely pops into the case like so.
And this happens to be an iPhone, which is iOgrapher's specialty as of this recording, but they're able to release a great Android solution very soon. At any rate, you can see that you've got these handles that provide a lot of great control for hand-held shooting. And there are quite a few sizes of iOgraphers. Here you can see I have a larger version that fits the 7+ and 8+ phones. Here's another solution for stability. It's called the Glif Mount. It basically fits any small device in either landscape or portrait orientation.
You simply connect it like so, and you have the ability to add lots of accessories to this as well. At the end of this movie, I'll show you the Glif Mount decked out in gear. For now, I'd like to start building the video rig with the iOgrapher case. The first thing I want to do is add even more stability in the form of a tripod. At the bottom base of the iOgrapher case is a 1/4-20 jack that will fit most tripods, and I've got several different solutions here. Here you can see that I have a standard extendable tripod, which is great for interviews and getting those tripod-mounted shots.
I've also got something called an ActionPod PRO, which has a flexible neck and a clamp. And this is really great for just attaching it to any sturdy surface and shooting in any angle that you like. Finally, I just have a simple mini tabletop tripod. It has flexible legs that can basically wrap around anything, which can be useful. For now, I'll just go ahead and set the iOgrapher case up on it so we can begin building our video rig.
Okay. So in addition to the 1/4-20 jack on the bottom of the case, the iOgrapher has two cold shoe mounts on top. A cold shoe mount is simply a slot where various accessories can attach. A hot shoe has electrical interfaces and can do things like trigger a flash or interface with microphones and lights. So that's not what these are. They don't have electronics built in. I'll start with audio. Even though the on-board microphones of the phone are pretty decent, it's really a good idea to work with an external mic if you want much better-sounding audio.
I want to start by talking about mini shotgun mics. There are quite a few options out there, and as you remember from the previous movie on audio terms and concepts, we talked about how a shotgun mic's pickup pattern is directed to whatever it's pointed at, and it minimizes sound from anywhere not in front of the mic. And then, just to connect it to the phone, you attach it to the cold shoe mount and secure it like so. All right. And then you need to basically interface it directly to the phone.
There are a couple of cables that you need. I have an adapter cable. This is a lightning port, and we go to mini-jack. So I'm going to plug that in like so. All right. And then we also have a patch cable. This is called an SC7 TRS to TRSS patch cable. So I'm just going to put the black end into the microphone and the gray end goes into the adapter here. All right. And if you're shooting outside and you want to reduce wind noise, you can add a fur windshield, commonly called a dead kitten, you can see that that attaches right to the mic like so.
That can be useful as well. If you're shooting interviews, it's often a great idea to use a lavalier, which we also talked about in the previous movie. This also just plugs right into that adapter. So I'll unplug this for now and plug the lavalier in. All right. There is one problem here in that I'm basically using the only access for a headphone jack. So there's a hub for that that can solve that problem.
I'm going to unplug this and attach the hub. And here you can see that this allows me to plug in two different mics and my headphones. So I can put that in like so and my headphones can attach here. This allows me to monitor my audio as I record, which is very important. I also have an extension cable. This is 20 feet long, so if I wanted to use my lavalier but get quite a bit further away from my subject, I can do that.
I'm just going to clean things up here a little bit. Let's un-attach the headphones, and we don't need two microphones, so I'll un-attach the lavalier for now. And we'll attach the mini-shotgun again. All right. Next I want to talk about lenses. When you zoom in on a smartphone, you're likely going to be accessing digital zoom, which is simply a form of image processing by enlarging pixels.
Therefore, if you zoom in a lot, the image quality suffers. However, if you use actual lenses, that's optical zoom, which enlarges the view and keeps the image pristine. There are many different lenses that you can attach to your camera, and many of the higher-end lenses can help you capture some truly beautiful images and let you achieve some great depth of field. I just have a couple of basic lenses here. Let's see. I have a 2x telephoto lens, so I can get a little closer to my subject without having to activate the digital zoom, and I also have a wide-angle lens, which lets me capture more of the scene in the view.
Here's a sample of what a scene looks like with and without the telephoto lens, and here's with and without the wide-angle lens. One extra advantage of the wide-angle lens is that if you unscrew it, it actually converts to a macro lens, which allows you to shoot very close to your subject. To attach the lens to the iOgrapher case, it's just simply a clip-on, and I attach it right over the camera like so.
Finally, I want to talk about light. Most of the shooting you do with your mobile filmmaking set up will likely be natural light. Here and there, you may want to add practical lights, like house lamps and other sources of illumination to your scene to provide the right look. However, when you're shooting relatively up close, you may want to add a light right on to your mobile filmmaking rig. There are some really nice options out there if you're willing to spend a bit more, and there are lots of filters and other things that you can add to the lights.
I just have a basic four-intensity LED light, which can add that extra pop that you may need in some interviews, or it can provide some bright, even illumination in some closer shots like when we shot this stop-motion video. This also clips on, so you can just attach it to your mobile filmmaking rig like so. All right. So that is a bit of a crash course on some mobile filmmaking equipment. There's so much more out there, so definitely check it out.
I chose to team up with iOgrapher here because I think they make some great products and they very clearly care about education. And Dave Basulto, the CEO of iOgrapher, is extending a 10% educational discount for people who take this course, and you can activate that by entering "10LYNDA" at checkout at iOgrapher.com. In the pre-production documents folder within the exercise files of this course I've listed all of the equipment along with links in case that's helpful to you. Definitely feel free to check out other equipment options as well.
Here's some of the photos of the Glif Mount that I showed you earlier, with many of the stability, audio, lights, and other accessories attached to it. Okay. So now that we have a good foundation in mobile filmmaking equipment, let's take a look at the Filmic Pro app, which will give us some really nice camera control.
- Video workflow and techniques
- Teaching on camera
- Writing the script
- Shooting on location
- Editing video in HitFilm Express
- Adding music and graphics