Making Videos with an iPhone? (Here’s what I learned..)

I’ll speak plainly. You just saw me in a mankini, so at this stage of our relationship, there’s no reason to tiptoe around the truth:

I absolutely LOATHED the idea of shooting Video Genesis Part 2 on an iPhone.

Then, I saw the images. Especially how it treats skin, and the rich colors it captures. Plus, ya know – all of the sudden everyone can be a cameraperson – at one point, between Mike and I, Sassy, and some friends visiting during the shoot, we could have shot 6 different angles simultaneously. So, there’s that…

If you have a newer-ish generation smart phone, don’t go get a video camera, yet. Experiment with the camera you have with you until you’re ready to step up to something from the profits your iPhone Marketing Videos make.

So, here’s tips that I learned using an iPhone to make a marketing video:

Couple things first – Video 2 was shot in 2 days. It’s a 30 minute video, so I’m pretty proud of that. And I have to say, using the iPhone made that possible. It IS very easy to use, but be warned, you need to take a couple of preliminary planning steps before you use it.

1 – Get the app called FilMicPro

FilMic Pro

FilMicPro is ESSENTIAL if you want any kind of control over what your iPhone captures. It lets you control Frame Rate (I like to capture video at 24 frames per second – makes it feel more like film). It lets you lock off focus so the camera doesn’t hunt around in low light looking for stuff to focus on. And, it lets you control exposure, so you can shoot bright scenes without having the subject you’re shooting go into silhouette. It’s like $5.00. Get it.

2 – LOTS of Light.

vg-bounce“A $500 camera will look better than a $5,000 camera if it’s got the right light.” ~ Sassy Dazzle, Cinematographer

In my humble opinion, “the right light” is a LOT of it, when it comes to shooting on a SmartPhone. If you don’t have Lighting Gear, shoot outside. Get some “Bounce Cards” and “Reflector Boards” from your local Photography store or Amazon to bounce the Sun into the face of your subject. The point is, the images that an iPhone shoots in good light rival all of my other cameras (Including my RED Dragon – $35,000) when it comes to web video. LIGHT IT!

3 – Tripod and Handheld Support

vg-stableThe WORST thing about shooting on an iPhone is the micro-jitters your hands impart to the camera when you’re shooting – causing it to look like you’re shooting in an Earthquake. And the internal stabilization is for chumps, don’t trust it. Grab a $20 tripod adaptor from Amazon and put that phone on the tripod. If you have to shoot handheld, get a handheld adaptor from Zacuto to smooth out the jitters.

4 – Lens Kits

There are lots of aftermarket lens kits you can attach to the lens of your iPhone to get super-wide angle or even telephoto. Use with caution. All of them I used introduced something called Chromatic Aberration and Vignetting. My advice is, if you can, don’t use them unless it’s absolutely necessary.

vg-cables5 – Audio

Props to all current generation smart phones. Their audio recording hardware is clean and noise-free. It’s plenty good for web applications.

Grab yourself a wired lapel microphone…(Rode Smartlav Lavalier Microphone or Audio Technica ATR 3350 Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone) or a wireless mic (If that’s how you roll) PLUS – you need this to make the audio signal recognized by the iPhone – Pro Recording Headphones.

6 – Head Slapping Stuff

A – Put your phone in airplane mode. Any wireless signal has a tendency to cause audio interference. PLUS, incoming text messages and voice calls have crashed my video recording application.

B – Have lots of storage available on your INTERNAL phone. Clean off all of your naughty images, iTunes movies, etc. and leave lots of room for your recordings. NOTE: Some additional storage that you can add to other brands of smart phones (i.e. Samsung Galaxy S-series) are NOT fast enough to record full 1080p HD. You want your internal storage freed up to capture your stuff.

C – Seeing what you’re shooting. If you’re shooting in bright light outdoors, it’s gonna be hard to see what’s on the screen. Bring a little towel that you can put over your head and the top of the phone to lower the ambient light so you can zero in on focus and exposure without the glare of the sun screwing up your visual.

D – TEST! Before we shot, we ran the iPhone through a bunch of test shoots to gauge things like battery life, shooting duration, how it reacted to bright light, low light, the audio, etc. Spend 30 minutes doing the same thing, throw the files into your editing program and look for issues.

YAY! Hope that helps y’all! Seriously, the quality these little pocket devices produce would have cost thousands of dollars just a few years ago. If you own one, there is absolutely no reason you can’t use it to make some real nice looking stuff.


Andy and Mike

video genesis

P.S. Video 3 is in Production – I’ll ping ya when it’s ready. We’re gonna focus on how to use videos to GTMâ„¢ in this one.