Shooting video with an iPhone is increasingly becoming a topic for professionals as well. This article explains what to look out for if you want the results of your work to be indistinguishable from a professional film. In this guide you will find all the important tips and tricks explained simply and understandably.
I’m also a video camera…. The iPhone can always do more. New applications are added daily. The question is always the same: can a tool that can do almost everything do everything only in average quality or really well? Like, record a video?
Shoot perfect videos with iPhone
The answer to the question of how to shoot the perfect video with iPhone in the
best picture quality is less simple than you might think. Sure, just shoot a shaky video, anyone can do that. But what about when you want the quality of your iPhone video to be professional?
Can the smartphone keep up with professional video equipment? The answer: Yes, it is possible. Provided you know the strengths and weaknesses of the iPhone’s built-in video camera. And it complements with external software and accessories like light. Then the camera plays in a league that can also be seen in the literal sense. Also for social videos or video testimonials.
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Why shoot an iPhone video?
If you shoot your movies with a DSLR video camera instead of an iPhone, you don’t just need the camera. But also an edit station. Whether PC or Apple, DSLR or GoPro action cam: the film is recorded with the camera unit (image and sound). And then edited and edited on the desktop or laptop. For this purpose, data transfer is required and different storage media are in use. The iPhone video shoot is different.
- The workflow, at least theoretically, can be done without any other equipment.
- Provided the necessary apps, the iPhone is and can do everything. From the recording of image and sound to video editing and uploading to YouTube. This makes the film production fast and uncomplicated.
- If you already have a professional infrastructure for image editing and sound processing, you should ideally use the iPhone only for image recording and sound recording. Because even in this way, the iPhone can perfectly bring all its advantages (such as mobility, simplicity and unobtrusiveness) into the field.
- First, a smartphone is unobtrusive as a camera (important for discreet or hidden shots).
- Secondly, as an inexperienced interview partner, you can get nervous when you are positioned in front of several kilograms of camera and then have to deliver your statement flawlessly. The smartphone is different. It doesn’t intimidate anyone and gives the other person enough room to breathe.
From the random filmmaker’s point of view, the best film camera is the one you have with you when you need it. Often, that’s a smartphone. For clients and professional video providers, other criteria apply. Here quality and price-performance ratio determine the choice of camera.
What do I need for professional iPhone videos?
To be able to shoot professionally with the iPhone, you have a whole range of apps and tools at your disposal. This overview shows where updates and additional equipment are required.
|Shoot an iPhone video professionally: Overview of what you need to do|
|Camera||Mandatory: professional picture quality (bitrate) and sound quality||App (Software)|
|Image||Optional: professional quality image through external camera lenses||Additional part|
|Light||Optional: Perception quality = professional lighting equipment||Additional part|
|Audio||Mandatory: professional sound quality = external microphone||Additional part /App (Software)|
|Stability||Mandatory: professional craft = handle (gimbal) / tripod||Additional part|
|Battery||Optional: Increase operating time with spare battery(ies)||Additional part|
|Memory||Optional: Increase memory capacity = longer recording time||Additional part /App (Software)|
Source: filmpulse.info, for details see points 1 to 8 below.
Of course, even with iPhone video shooting, you’ll need a modicum of filmmaking knowledge, experience working with moving images, and the requisite amount of talent. These three things, regardless of whether you have the iPhone or an Alexa or Panaflex in your hands, remain unchanged.
1 Maximum picture quality when shooting iPhone video
Apple’s image capture app is geared towards the masses of users. An average bit rate of 24.0 Mbit/second is sufficient here. As with all digital multimedia formats, the amount of data output per unit of time is nothing more than a measure of quality.
A separate article on the subject of sound recording with the iPhone will follow soon, written by Filmpuls expert Neil Raouf.
|Shoot iPhone video: Software / Apps for technical quality enhancement|
|FilMic Pro||FilMic Pro is currently probably the most widely used app for professional filming with the iPhone. The software is also available in German. The app turns the iPhone into a movie camera by not only adding important functionality, but also displaying all the important information for the filmmaker on the phone’s screen while shooting. (More on that later in this article in the battery, storage, and sound topics. With FilMic Pro, recordings can be made at up to 50.0 MBit per second and thus in professional quality.||Guide price: 12.- €|
|Per Cam||Pro Cam also expands the cinematic possibilities for iPhone video shooting: Image resolution and frame rate are adjustable, additionally there is (as with FilMic Pro) a fade-in line grid for aligning the images, a zoom function (where we as professionals put a question mark) and a night recording mode. Since version 3 Pro Cam is also available in a German language version.||4.90 €|
|MAVIS – Pro Camera||Mavis Pro is characterized by an intuitively usable, simple user interface. Here you can choose between different full screen views and visualizations of focus and exposure in real time during shooting. Whether useful or not, almost all functions can be changed while recording is in progress. This also includes the aperture. An amplifier function can be activated for the sound and the level can be measured and controlled with different tools. The recording quality is freely selectable and goes up to 4K and 100 MBit per second, which is double the maximum of FilMic Pro, for example.||18,99 €|
|Movie Pro is used by over 1 million people worldwide, according to the manufacturer. For professional users, that may be part of the reason why they prefer other solutions to this software, which has five years of experience under its belt but doesn’t make as much of a splash today as it did when it launched in 2012.||4,10 €|
Source: App Store, Google Play and Internet
Conclusion: If you want to increase the bitrate for video recordings on your iPhone, you can do this easily, but you will have to pay around € 12. FilMic Pro’s app, available on the Apple Store or Google Play, for example, allows you to shoot at up to 50.0 Mbps. This allows you to create competitive recordings in 4K.
The options for professional enhancement for iPhone video shooting go beyond the apps for enhancing the camera’s own software. The built-in lens can also be expanded with external attachments. However, though unnoticed by most users, iPhones starting from version 7 Plus already have two built-in lenses and not just a digital zoom.
Optical zoom is always preferable to digital zoom because it changes the focal length without compromising image quality. Conversely, a digital zoom always means a data reduction (reduction of pixels) and thus reduces the quality of the images. Switching between digital and optical zoom is easily done manually with the 2x button on any new design iPhone.
|Shoot iPhone video: Camera lenses (lenses)|
|Zeiss Exolens wide angle attachment||Zeiss is a well-known quality manufacturer of professional lenses. The wide-angle attachment specially developed for the iPhone turns the focal length of 29 millimeters into a new focal length of 18 millimeters, which corresponds to a wide-angle lens. Mounted as an attachment on the smartphone, the camera can thus work with lower ISO values (sensitivity) or slightly shorter exposure times under the same lighting conditions.||Indicative price: 250.- €|
|The 4-IN-1 camera attachment from Olloclip is a compact clip-on solution in a small format. It fits in any pocket. The lens attachment for the iPhone contains, as the name suggests, four relatively sophisticated optical lenses. They include a fisheye (deliberate, strong barrel distortion of the shot), a wide-angle lens, a 10x macro, and a 15x macro. With the macros it is also possible to take pictures at close range. The attachment, it may be useful for special applications such as selfies, can be attached to the front camera (main camera), but also on the rear camera (selfies).||100 €|
|Moment Lens Wide||Moment Lens Wide also widens the angle of view and perspective to a considerable extent. The wide-angle lens doubles the image detail by almost a factor of 2, which can spice up many boring subjects.||from €45|
Our favorite and therefore our recommendation: the combination of FilMic Pro with the Zeiss wide-angle attachment and the abandonment of digital zooms.
2 Improve quality of perception = optimise lighting conditions
A video is only as good as what happens in front of the camera. This rule also applies to lighting conditions. You determine the result of the iPhone video shoot to a considerable extent.
In practice, professional cameramen (who are always jointly responsible for the lighting on location) often work according to the three-point principle of image illumination for testimonials and videos.
- Three point lighting is the name of this preferred method of setting light because it usually requires light from three different directions in order to create an image cleanly and with the right accents while avoiding unattractive shadows.
- In the 3-point system, a distinction is made between Key Light (leading light), Fill Light (brightener) and Back Light (so-called tip, = a light source which sets accents).
- The guide light provides the basic brightness and is usually positioned to the side of the camera. To prevent the Key Light from creating unwanted shadows, a brightener is positioned on the other side of the object (or person).
- Because every good film composition consciously deals with foreground, middle ground and background, a spatial separation of the picture planes is often desired by the cinematographer.
- The Back Light is therefore positioned diagonally behind the subject. It is positioned on the same axis as the guide light and ensures that the contours are emphasised with a light beam. This gives the video image the necessary depth.
- Key Light (guide light), Fill Light (brightener) and Back Light place different demands on the lighting equipment.
If you want to shoot professional videos with an iPhone camera, you have to pay special attention to the lighting. Because in the handling of the film light (similar to the sound and the camera work) the difference between the narrow-gauge filmmaker and the expert becomes particularly clear:
|Shoot iPhone video: Lighting equipment for professional film lighting|
|Softbox||Softboxes generate a soft light. Because they have a fixed luminous intensity, they are only suitable to a limited extent as key light and fill light. On the other hand, they can be combined with daylight and provide a soft light that does not dazzle the interviewer. If you have little experience with film lighting, you can rely on soft shadows with a softbox. However, this requires the light source to be uncomfortably close to the face during interviews. With it the softbox comes gladly once with into the picture.||Guide price: from 75.- €|
|LED panel||LEDs are dimmable. This simply makes atmospheric moments possible. However, an LED panel generates harder light and can therefore cause unsightly reflections in front of the camera for people wearing glasses. The more LEDs a panel has, the brighter it is. LEDs require more experience in lighting design. When purchasing, it is important to pay attention to whether and how the panels are cooled. Depending on the design of the ventilation, these cause noise. Perfect sound recordings are thus impossible!||from €100|
|Spotlight||Spots are particularly suitable for spotlighting. Their color temperature can be adjusted with foils that are clamped in front of the headlights. Spots, like the softbox, require a power connection and can usually not be operated mobile with a battery set, like LEDs. On the other hand, spots, like LEDs, are uncomplicated and quick to set up (unlike the softbox).||from €70|
Source: Web, Wiki
Every lighting situation is different. If you want to shoot iPhone videos professionally, you can’t avoid getting familiar with lighting and purchasing different mobile lighting sources including accessories.
3 White balance, sharpness and aperture
Almost everything iPhone does is automatic. Nevertheless, it is recommended to keep an eye on the white balance, sharpness and aperture when shooting iPhone video.
|Shoot iPhone video: Operate camera settings professionally|
|White balance||In order for photographs to match our natural sensation, white balance is required. This tells the camera what corresponds to a white area in the current lighting situation (light can be warmer or colder). For this purpose, a white sheet of paper is held in front of the camera. All other colors are then aligned to this value accordingly. Many apps, including FilMic Pro, automatically determine the white balance. Optionally, in-app options can be purchased that allow an individual color profile and custom color temperatures already during shooting. Professionals will mostly want to do the color corrections after editing (using tools like Premiere, DaVinci, etc.) Important: What image information is not on the shot material cannot always be reconstructed and fixed afterwards during image processing. Therefore, always create a white balance during shooting. This is part of the craft and distinguishes the amateur from the professional.||Indicative price: depending on app|
|Sharpness and aperture||Apps like FilMic Pro make it easy for the filmmaker: two large icons in the center of the frame show focus (left side) and iris (right side). Your setting can be saved as a preset and then recalled on location at the touch of a button. Likewise, the area to be in focus in the image can be selected directly by simply tapping on it. The app shows with a red image frame that it fixes the focus consistently. A second tap allows the marker frame (which thus changes from red to white) to be placed at a new location.||Indicative price: depending on app|
4 Stability and camera movements when shooting iPhone video
There’s nothing worse than a shaky movie picture! Combine that with the unsteadiness, shaking and swaying on a large flat screen and it makes watching a video almost impossible. No wonder, there is a whole range of electronic tools that promise effortless image stabilization.
It is advisable to get to the root of the problem and avoid shakiness at the beginning of the recording process. Either a tripod or at least a fixed mounting of the camera helps. Or else a special carrying handle for the iPhone when the camera needs to be moved.
|iPhone video shoot: Stabilizers & Carriers|
|DJI Osmo Mobile||The manufacturer DJI Osmo is known for its mounting systems for cameras for drones. The DJI Osmo Mobile one-hand camera system benefits from this knowledge and the stabilizers necessary for stable camera movement. It is a one-handed small steadycam for shake-free handheld video recording. An app is also available as an accessory for the grip system, which can be used to create time-lapse recordings and stop-motion videos (also with a moving camera), among other things.||Guide price: 115 €|
Of course, the rules for camera movements also apply to iPhone video shooting. If you hold your iPhone camera in portrait mode (instead of horizontal), you’d rather shoot cat videos with it than professional videos.
|Shoot iPhone video: Image stabilization software|
|Emulsio||If for whatever reason you haven’t managed to keep your camera stable, you can stabilize your shots with Emulsio’s app. The software has a before and after mode. This allows the corrections to be compared directly with the original material. Like almost without exception every app for iPhone cameras, Emulsio can also be used to determine the beginning and end of the image directly in the smartphone.||free of charge, with in-app upgrade|
|StableCam is an app that specializes not only in image stabilization, but especially in smooth slow motion recording.||n.d.|
|Deshake talks about desktop-quality stabilization. Thus, the software is only conditionally suitable for videos that want to be more than a home video for the Internet and should be.||Guide price: 2,40 €|
Source: Apple, Google, Internet
If you shoot with your iPhone and need to stabilize your shots, you won’t save yourself and your pictures with image stabilization apps, but only with professional tools. However, their use can quickly cost as much as the planned overall project. That’s why we repeat our pro tip again here:
Do not polish up image wobbles when shooting on the iPhone afterwards, but actively prevent them during the recording and from the outset!
5 Battery power and memory
There’s not much more unprofessional than running out of battery or memory in the middle of a perfect iPhone shot. Replacement batteries, so-called powerbanks and memory expansions help against this:
|iPhone video shoot: Powerbanks for more battery life|
|Anker PowerCore 2 20000mAh||This external battery has a sufficient power of 20,000 mAh. This makes it particularly suitable for video shooting with iPhones.||Guide price: 40 €|
|EasyAcc Mini 6700mAh||The EasyAcc Mini 6700mAh (MT67002B) is one of the best rated powerbanks of its size and best selling models in its size category on Amazon Germany.||16 €|
|AUKEY PB-N15 20000mAh||The Aukey PB-N15 offers 20,000 mAh of power, putting it in the same class as the Anker PowerCore 2. According to the manufacturer, the powerbank can withstand more than 500 charging cycles without losing power. Includes 2 built-in USB ports and integrated LED flashlight||23 €|
|15,600 mAh powerbank from Coolreall offers large capacity and two external ports.||17 €|
|Fuze Case||The Fuze Case gives the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus back its headphone jack for audio (3.5MM). At the same time, the case is not only a protective cover, but also an additional battery that doubles the runtime.||69 €|
Details: Manufacturer / Web
While shooting iPhone video, the mobile phone belongs in flight mode. Not only does this prevent a call or message from sabotaging the recording, but it also saves a significant amount of battery. That’s the only way iPhone doesn’t constantly check networks, Wi-Fi, and phone networks and consume power to exchange the associated information.
|Shoot iPhone video: Memory Extensions for iPhone|
|Mophie Space Pack||The Space Pack is available in three variants: with 16 GB memory for around 150 euro, with 32 GB memory for around 180 euro and with 64 GB memory for just under 250 euro. Customers also have a choice of colors when purchasing.||Guide price: 150 – 250 €|
|SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick||SanDisk takes a different approach than Mophie with the Connect Wireless Stick. The great strength of the Connect Wireless Stick is its compatibility. Users can insert the stick into the USB slot of their Mac or Windows computer. This way, they get up to 128 GB of additional memory. However, the Connect Wireless Stick also has a Wi-Fi antenna. Through the antenna, users can connect their iPhone, iPad, Android device or Kindle Fire to the stick and then access the stored data or stream movies directly from the Connect Wireless Stick. The battery of the Connect Wireless Stick lasts about 4.5 hours in streaming mode. The prices vary between 35 Euro and 100 Euro, depending on how large the memory of the stick is. There are 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB versions to choose from. The Connect Wireless Stick from SanDisk will be available in Germany from 10 August.||35 – 100 €|
|iFlashDrive HD||PhotoFast’s iFlashDrive HD memory stick plugs into the iPhone or iPad’s Lightning port. Then, depending on the version, iPhone users will get 8GB, 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of additional storage.||n.d.|
|Callstel 5in1||1The Callstel 5in1 does not have its own memory. Instead, the Callstel 5in1 offers users the ability to connect various storage devices to their iPad. On the one hand, the Callstel 5in1 has a Lightning connector that connects the adapter to the iOS device. On the other side, there’s a USB port, SD card reader, and microSD card slot. Users can switch between SD/microSD card mode and USB mode with a switch. Furthermore, not only storage media but also an external keyboard can be connected via the USB port.||n.d.|
|Cloud||Depending on the carrier, users of iPhones have several GB of free storage available in a cloud storage service. However, if you need more than just a few extra GB of storage, you’ll have to sign up for a monthly subscription. While most cloud storage services have reasonably secure encryption of data. In addition, if WLAN is not available, the data volume is capped and requires the iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular.||69 €|
Details: Manufacturer / Web n.a. = at the time of writing no information available
6 Sound quality: good sound is half the battle
For decades, film was referred to as audiovisualfor a reason. Audio means sound – and sound is half the battle. Satisfactory sound recording with the iPhone requires additional knowledge, combined with the right tips and tricks. Conversely, they’re also the easiest and cheapest way to give a smartphone-recorded video a professional feel.
- Sound recording with iPhone or iPad: the ultimate guide
- The best microphones for recording sound with your iPhone or iPad
- Microphones for iPhone and tablets: The best apps for you in a practical test
- Røde SmartLav+ Microphone: Test for iPhone and iPad
- Røde VideoMicro in the expert test
- Røde iXLR for iPhone: Practice test
- Zoom iQ6: Microphone for iPhone in test
7 Image editing and effects
Image editing and effects on the iPhone tend not to be an option for professionals who rarely travel without a laptop. Unlike image quality, the scissors are still painfully wide open when it comes to image editing and sound processing on the iPhone.
|Shoot iPhone video: Editing images and sound|
|iMovie||The classic from Apple. Picture-in-picture editing or voice-over. Continuous optics. Ready-to-use effects, graphics and music are included.||Guide price: 12 €|
|Clips Video Editor||In addition to the timeline, which is displayed horizontally, clips are displayed one after the other with thumbnails. Transitions can be selected for each clip.Clips can also straighten videos accidentally filmed on edge. In November 2015, the developers were bought by Google – probably why the app is free.||free|
|Videoshop||Videoshop allows you to capture images directly from the app. Alternatively, recordings can be imported into the app. In addition to the beginning and end of the image (cut function), text and sound recordings (off-commentary) can also be superimposed on the original image.||2 €|
|Splice||Splice comes from the house of action cam manufacturer GoPro. The app automatically merges photos and footage into a video. When a piece of music is specified, the edit follows the beat of the sound. The specific image sections and their length are determined by an algorithm and referred to as “highlights” by the manufacturer.||n.d.|
Source: Internet / Manufacturer
What has to be said for picture editing and sound editing applies for the time being even more to picture effects:
|Shoot iPhone video: Image effects|
|Movie FX||Action Movie FX not only delivers computer generated images like explosions, but also the matching sound effects. A nice gimmick.||from 1.- €|
|Stop Motion Studio||The heart of Stop Motion Studio is a frame-by-frame editor: it shows the previous frame with the live image of the camera superimposed in a semi-transparent way. This makes it easy to monitor the changes from image to image like an onion skin effect.||from 1 €|
Source: Internet / Manufacturer
8 Shoot iPhone video with remote shutter release
If you want to be sure that your iPhone is actually recording an image signal, you can’t get around remote control of the camera. A small mirror attached to the back of the smartphone provides a makeshift solution for checking. More professionally, you can use an app to display the functions on your laptop or iPad.
|Shoot iPhone video: Remote apps|
|FiLMiC Remote||FiLMiC Remote offers a dedicated app for remote control and real-time monitoring of recordings. For this purpose, FiLMiC Remote integrates other iOS devices into the production process. Remote v3 offers three different working modes: Control, Monitor and Director.||Guide price: 8 €|
|MoviePro Remote||With the MoviePro Remote App, all camera functions can be controlled from another IOS device.||6 €|
Source: Manufacturer, App Store, Google Play
Start and stop of a smartphone camera can be remotely controlled in a simple way and without an app: with the volume control on the headset, the camera can be triggered and stopped on almost all iPhone models without exception.
Feature film, shot with iPhone: “Tangerine”
“Tangerine” is a feature film shot entirely with the iPhone and the app Filmic Pro. The feature film made a splash at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. If you watch the trailer, you’ll be amazed at the quality, even though the technology has already advanced massively again in the last two years. This proves: iPhone videos can look really good.
Director Sean Baker explained in an interview about his work that shooting iPhone video was exceedingly beneficial to the subject, because it meant the film crew wasn’t even recognized as such on set: “Everybody’s shooting video of some sort with iPhones everywhere every day.”
Keep the following points in mind for your iPhone / smartphone shoot so you get the best possible results with minimal effort:
How do I shoot good iPhone videos?
- You can improve the technical quality of your recordings with specially designed apps.
- To increase the optical quality you use an external camera lens.
- For professional sound recording you need an additional microphone.
- There are special camera grips (gimbals) so that you can hold the camera steady and guide it in a targeted manner.
- The standard built-in batteries and memory for image data are not sufficient for professional use. That’s why you need an external power pack and additional external memory cards to shoot professionally with your iPhone.
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