Smartphone Filmmaking : Inexpensive Tips to Make your Film look Cinematic

The introduction of High-Definition videos on smartphones changed the game for the cellphones completely. Today, it is a potent camera for shooting videos. Any novice can create good quality videos out of it. Video creators too shunned their DSLRs and took to smartphones to create high visual content. Slowly, the smartphone is spreading its wings from video creators to filmmakers.

Many young filmmakers are adopting smartphone filmmaking for their features. Due to HD 4k output, they no more flinch making their films with smartphones. It is good camera alternative and is the most inexpensive way of filming if you smartly use your resources and don’t go for fancy gear.

The most significant challenge for a filmmaker is that his film should not look like an amateur fiddling with his camera phone. What makes a good filmmaker standout from a layperson is the quality and the professional look to his imagery.Hollywood Filmmakers like Steven Soderbergh is filming his latest film ‘ Unsane’ with his iPhone.It all started with a film called ‘Tangerine’ which rocked the Sundance Film Festival 2015 when the director Sean Baker revealed that the film was shot on iPhone 5s.

Smartphone filmmaking can be quite tricky as you may not be able to create a good movie without a comprehensive knowledge of filmmaking techniques. Each tool has its area of competence.So, identifying the limitations and overcoming them to realize your vision is of primary importance.

Reasons why you must shoot with Smartphones:

1- Handy:

You don’t have to hang that heavy camera equipment every time you feel the need to film. Smartphones are great for inexpensive candid shoots. It is omnipresent on all occasions, and you don’t have to curse yourself, not to carry your camera when a cinematic moment or visual springs before you.

Smartphones don’t need enough space to film and can fit smoothly into the most difficult and confined places. They are lighter and hassle-free for inexpensive guerilla filmmaking.

2- Affordable:

You can avoid the paraphernalia if you use smartphones smartly. A lot of great techniques can be applied for free or with very little money to simulate eye candy shots. If you keep your mind open, you can get rid of rigs and gimbals that a DSLR or a film camera demands.

3- Visual Quality:

Now you can shoot 4K which is the basic requirement for a film quality visual. Some smartphones offer the .1920 x 1080 dpi which is great. So, now you are not compromising on the visual quality if you shoot with smartphones.

4- Apps:

The Apple iOS and the Google Android offers a lot of sophisticated applications on the phones. You not only can shoot but also edit and manipulate the imagery. There is no dearth of third-party apps available to stabilize, add effects and improve the visual makeup of your film shots.

Smartphone nowadays presents itself as a one-stop shop for any newbie filmmaker. It is a magnificent film tool which is available to you round the clock.

Inexpensive Tips to make your smartphone film look cinematic:

The first thing to know before the shoot is to know your phone’s ability to achieve the output you desire for your movie. You can start small by testing few clips which you feel are essential to enhance the visual quality. A lot depends on the operating software, the lenses, the resolution, frame rates and the storage it offers. Power consumption, Audio recording and the size of phone matters too. So, you should test this small to troubleshoot your way to get an excellent output. Check the five inexpensive tips to get the cinematic look from your smartphone.

1- Achieve Great Visual Quality:

One of the biggest challenge when you are starting or short of funds. The best way to economize on your shoot is to shoot under the sun. It is a free source. However, never shoot when the sun is on the top. Always try to capture your visuals during the sunrise and the sunsets. The light quality is fantastic, and the results you get is comparable to a high-quality film.
If you are shooting against the source, the exposure may not be constant in a digital camera. You can use your aviator sunglasses to filter the sun and get the polaroid effect.

For indoors, try to shoot near the window. Use the daylight as your primary source and bounce the light using the reflectors. You can also use low-cost lights and LED or Neons to light the indoors. Smartphones capture them quite well.

2- Disadvantage of a Digital Zoom:

Smartphones use the digital zooms which should not be preferred when shooting a subject. Digital Zooms will hamper the resolution of the video and can pixellate in some cases. Instead go close to the actors and shoot. Also, keep in mind that the focus is on the subject. Use manual focus instead as it will avoid the shifting of focus.
A good understanding of framing a shot also enhances the visual quality. A well composed, well-lit shot can make the film. Always shoot the movie using the landscape or the horizontal layout else, it will look unprofessional.

3- Stabilize the shakeups:

The lighter the camera, the more the shake-ups. It would not be advisable to go after expensive gear which will add up to a cost and will be similar to a professional camera. So you should find ways to stabilize the jerks.
You can use the long household clips which can clamp the phone to any object. Similarly, you can use things like rubber bands and stick tapes to grip the phone tightly to avoid shakes.
There are also inexpensive gimbals and tripods for smartphones you can utilize. Also, You can use the chairs, tables, low friction boxes to do smooth dollies and tracking.

4- Audio and Sound:

So, with your hard work, you can achieve excellent results on the video; However, the audio recording has its shortcomings when it comes to smartphones. Without proper audio, your film can look crappy and is the toughest part to crack in smartphone filmmaking. The existing phones have poor quality recorders that catch a lot of ambient noise.
There are some ways to correct this. Choose quiet locations.Also, try to shoot indoors. Use directional and lav microphones to record better audio.
If you have to sound professional, pick decent quality sound recorders or shoot without sound and then lay sound effects and dubbed audio under the video timeline. It can be a good option till, in the near future, the cell phone companies come with high-quality sound recording on their phones.

5- Filmmaking Apps:

There are many third party filmmaking apps for Android and iOS which provide manual controls like exposure, white balance, etc. of like any professional cameras. Filmic Pro is one such favorite iPhone app. There are other apps which edit, add video effects and music apps. But, I prefer to get the postproduction done on the laptop. On the smartphone, it seems too far-fetched.

Smartphone filmmaking is an excellent solution for newbie filmmakers. It is a perfect launchpad for any aspirant to learn the tricks to become a good filmmaker.

Leave a Comment