Filmmaking with a Mobile Device - Edmonton Short Film Festival

Mobile Device
A great camera isn’t a necessity to tell a thrilling tale but if you are looking for clean, sharp images these phones are superior according to TechRadar, Digital Camera World, CNET, and Tech Advisor for 2019. Unanimously agreed across all publications, the best camera phone is Huawei P30 Pro for 2019. The unanimous runner-up was the Google Pixel 3, with the iPhone XS, Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus, and the Huawei Mate 20 Pro following.  Honorable mention went to Sony Xperia XZ3 for its videography capabilities.

A mobile device may also be in the form of a tablet or laptop. Given laptops have a keyboard attached, they may not be reasonable for shooting photos and video, although, they are more helpful for editing. A tablet strikes a balance between a laptop and smartphone. According to Nootin Kumar of and Tech Radar, some of the best tablets of 2019 are the iPad Pro 12.9, Lenovo Yoga Pro 3, Samsung Galaxy S4, and Huawei MediaPad M5. Both publications agreed the iPad Pro 12.9 was the best tablet of 2019 but there are older versions to compensate for the price. Aside from the zoom capability, 12MP rear camera, and video stabilization it has four microphones, a feature that can be surpassed with external sound units.

How does one get great shots with a mobile device camera, and a movie-like feel? Part of that answer is altering your mindset. You aren’t a pedestrian capturing an arsonist on Whyte Avenue, you are a filmmaker! Shoot horizontally so nothing is cropped out and more action is captured. Try not to use the zoom features on your camera phone, as they usually blur the higher the zoom. If you can, simply go towards the object. The great thing about mobile filmmaking is portability, so go for some creative angles. Try to be as stable as possible as you shoot, a trick is to hold your breath for the shot and release your breath after the image is captured.

It is recommended for the most part to shoot with a stabilizer, which is an object that holds a device in place. The most common, and widely available is a selfie stick. If you do have a tripod, use a fluid head or gimbal, and purchase a mount to attach your device to a tripod. Whether your mount is for a tablet or a mobile phone it usually retails under $50.

Once you have the mechanics of the shot down it is important to use a camera application that will allow you to control camera settings. Make sure to use the same camera settings, such as frame rate, exposure, and white balance, while shooting the entire video. Shutter speed should be double the frame rate or close. You can alter footage in the post-production process, but it is important to maintain flow and consistency during shooting.

Try to use an external sound microphone. If you are shooting an action scene in multiple angles, your sound may become choppy, as the actors move and shift quickly. These usually start for around $100, some budget sound recording devices include the BOYA by-M1 3.5mm Electret Condenser Microphone and the Rode VideoMic Me Boom  Microphone for Smart Phones.

For interviews and one person dialogue  the PoP Voice Professional #1 Best Lavalier Lapel Microphone  for $15.00 works great. For ambient sound  the AmazonBasics Condenser Microphone for Smartphones is under $40.00 and works very well.

Use sound that is not copyrighted as much as possible. Some free resources for sound are listed below.

Free trials are available on most software, also, if you are a post-secondary student you may have access to the software through the institution’s devices. Some free video editing software includes Movavi, HitFilm 4 Express, DaVinci Resolve, and iMovie.

Checkout Smartphone Film Pro for further information on mobile device filmmaking and good luck! The future is here to help make anyone with a good story a movie maker.