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How to shoot cinematic videos with just your phone

In the past decade, smartphones have revolutionized the way we capture, edit, and share videos. The days of relying on expensive equipment and extensive technical knowledge are long gone. Nowadays, most smartphones come equipped with decent cameras and a plethora of tools that allow you to create high-quality, professional video content. However, skill and knowledge are still essential for producing top-notch videos. Read on for our comprehensive guide on shooting epic videos with your phone, complete with valuable tips and tricks.


1. Manually Control Your Phone Camera for great cinematic videos



To make the most of your smartphone camera, it's crucial to have control over the settings. Professional camera operators are distinguished not by the equipment they use but by their ability to adjust the settings to suit any shot and environment. Fortunately, many smart devices offer manual control options in their camera settings. Additionally, you can download free camera apps for iOS and Android that provide these essential settings.


Resolution

When it comes to resolution options, many phones offer a range from 720p to 4K. For online video content, 1080p is the recommended choice since it aligns with the resolution most people use to watch videos online. If your camera supports 4K, you can opt for that option, but keep in mind that it may consume storage space and battery life more quickly.


 

An elegant Sierra Blue iPhone 13 Pro Max with 256GB of storage capacity
iPhone 13 Pro Max, 256GB, Sierra Blue

iPhone 13 Pro Max, 256GB, Sierra Blue.





 

Frame Rate/Shutter Speed

The most common frame rate for most shots is 24 fps. Higher frame rates create a surreal effect by compressing more images into a given time frame, which is ideal for slow-motion shots. However, for general shots, a frame rate of 24 fps is recommended. As for the shutter speed, it's generally advised to set it around twice the frame rate. For instance, if your frame rate is 24 fps, your shutter speed should be around 1/50 to achieve smoother and fluid movements.


ISO/White Balance

The ISO and white balance settings should be adjusted according to the filming environment. While mobile editing tools offer color grading and filter options, it's best to establish proper settings during filming.


2. Try Cinematic Camera Angles



Creating a cinematic videos look doesn't depend on the equipment you use; it's all about creativity and attention to detail. With your phone, you can achieve many angles and movements similar to those captured with a professional film camera, often with greater accessibility.


Use Your Phone for Camera Movements

One advantage of using a phone for filming is its lightweight and easy maneuverability, allowing for greater flexibility in creating shots. Even the slightest movements can result in stunning effects such as push-ins, orbiting, tracking, and panning motions. While there are various stabilizers available for mobile devices, such as selfie sticks and motorized gimbals like the DJI Osmo, you can still achieve impressive effects with handheld shots.


For optimal results, hold your phone securely with one hand and use your other hand to support your camera arm. Keep your knees bent and use your legs for movement. Twisting at the waist enables panning, shifting your weight from one foot to the other facilitates small tracking movements, and walking at a constant speed allows for longer tracking shots.


Top Tip: Brandon Li has created an incredible video detailing how to achieve stable and fluid movement with handheld footage, which is highly recommended.


Utilize Slow Motion

Most smartphones now offer slow-motion settings that can reach up to 960 fps while maintaining 1080p resolution. Introducing well-placed slow-motion shots can emphasize crucial moments in your videos and add variety to your shot types. However, it's important to use slow-motion sparingly to prevent audience boredom.


Strategically sprinkle slow-motion shots throughout your videos to make them stand out. Additionally, ensure you have good lighting when shooting at higher frame rates, as daylight offers the best results.


Wide Lens

Recent advancements in smartphone cameras include dual lenses, offering medium and wide-angle options. Similar to slow-motion shots, it's advisable to use the wide-angle lens purposefully and sparingly. Wide angles are particularly effective for establishing shots and capturing scenic landscapes, replicating the impact achieved with professional film cameras.


3. Edit on Your Phone



Editing videos on a phone presents certain challenges compared to working on a computer. The smaller screen size makes navigation and reviewing edits more challenging, and using your fingers instead of a precise cursor can lead to slightly cumbersome workflows. However, for editing short social media updates or stories, the convenience of filming and editing on the same device can outweigh the limitations of screen size.


Editing Apps

Numerous free editing apps are available for Android and iOS devices, such as Cap Cut, InShot, and VM Video Editor. For the purpose of this guide, we will focus on Adobe Premiere Rush.


Premiere Rush is a paid app, but it is included in your subscription if you already use Adobe Creative Suite. One significant advantage of using Adobe Rush is its familiar interface, which shares navigation and interface options with the industry-standard counterpart.


Tools

Mobile editing apps offer a range of essential editing tools suitable for beginners and professionals alike. While you won't have access to advanced features like Keyframing tools, Blend Modes, and Scopes available in desktop suites, you can still perform basic editing tasks.


 

A professional-grade Hohem iSteady M6 Kit gimbal stabilizer designed for smartphones
hohem iSteady M6 Kit Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone
hohem iSteady M6 Kit Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone, 2023 Upgraded 3-Axis Phone Gimbal, AI Tracker w/CCT/RGB Fill Light, Gimbal for iPhone 14 Pro Max & Android, Phone Stabilizer for Video Recording

 




These tools are user-friendly and often come with helpful walkthroughs and tutorials to guide you through the software. Whether you need to trim and combine clips, apply transitions, or add titles, mobile editing apps provide the necessary functionality.


Music

A video is incomplete without a fitting soundtrack. Most mobile editing apps allow you to easily upload tracks stored on your device. However, it's essential to consider copyright and licensing restrictions when choosing music. Artist offers a vast library of tracks available under a single subscription, allowing you to download directly to your smartphone and use them in your videos.


While smartphones provide the technology to produce high-quality content, it still requires practice and patience. Filmmakers spend years honing their craft, constantly seeking ways to improve their shots, camera work, and editing skills. By mastering these fundamental skills, you'll be well on your way to creating compelling and visually stunning stories. If you're looking to enhance your videos on a budget under $100, check out our recommended guide.


Remember, great videos are not solely determined by the equipment you use, but by the creativity and expertise you bring to the process. With your smartphone as a versatile tool, the possibilities are endless.



 

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