It might have seemed laughable a few years ago, but with each new generation of smartphones, it feels slightly more plausible that your smartphone might one day replace your DSLR. Filming with a phone still has its drawbacks, but with a few simple hacks, you can create a cinematic masterpiece with the camera without the need for much – if any – extra kit.
Presenting at this year's Adobe Max 2020 conference, video editor and Adobe Premiere Pro Master Instructor Luisa Winters shared her top tips for shooting awesome videos on the go. All you need is a smartphone (you can't go wrong with one of the best camera phones) and a video editing app – Winters recommends Adobe Premiere Rush.
"I have owned several high-end cameras throughout my life," Winters says, "But nowadays I find myself shooting more on my phone. The main advantage is that you always have it with you."
Here are some of the most common problems you might encounter while shooting on your phone, and Winters' top tips for overcoming them.
Being handheld devices, smartphones are prone to shooting unsteady footage. Of course, you can invest in a tripod or even a steadycam holder, but these aren't exactly going to fit in your pocket along with your phone.
"The further away you hold your phone from your body," Winters says, the shakier it will be. "But if you hold it close to your core, it will be much steadier – effectively turning your body into a tripod." By the same logic, you should also try rotating your whole body instead of your arms for a much smoother pan.
02. Poor audio quality
While the video quality of many smartphones is nothing short of incredible these days, one area in which they all come up short is audio quality. "Truth be told," Winters says, "we all know that the microphone on your phone or tablet will be less than ideal." And here, her advice is simple: get an external mic.
Luckily, there are lots of compact and affordable external mics available that can connect simply to your smartphone, and dramatically increase the audio quality. Check out some of the best deals below.
03. Bad lighting
While you can find portable lighting rigs, let's be honest – you're unlikely to be carrying one around with your phone. But with a little creativity, you can create perfect lighting with the help of a few household items. "If you need a reflector, you can use anything that can reflect white, from a white towel to a piece of paper," Winters says.
And with a little planning, you can make the sun's natural light work with you. Shooting at noon isn't a great idea, Winters suggests, because it can lead to harsh shadows on faces. Choosing to shoot earlier or later in the day can help to avoid this.
04. Horizontal or vertical?
"Isn't that the question of the decade?" Winters laughs. While many filmmakers might scoff at portrait, there's no denying its place in the world of social media. Indeed, for some outlets, vertical can be preferable, whereas horizontal works for others.
"A thin waterfall could work better in vertical, while a sunset at the beach works better in horizontal," says Winters. "You know which one you need. But the problem is when you need both."
This is where Adobe Premiere Rush comes in. Whether you shoot in portrait or landscape, the app can export a single video in both formats – and you can choose how each version is cropped. This way, your cinematic masterpiece is ready for both YouTube and TikTok. For more mobile shooting tips from Adobe MAX 2020, check out these 5 easy ways to shake up your social media videos.