Filmmaking today is more and more accessible to anyone. DSLRs have turned into tools of the trade for people involved in productions of all levels, and now even smartphones can produce video of high-enough quality to be considered alternatives that can come in handy under certain circumstances. Creating videos with your smartphone has its limitations, though, so below we list 5 useful tips and tricks to get the most potential out of your phone on set.
How to Create Cinematic Smartphone Film
Tape your Phone to Anything to Get a New Point of View
We all know how hard it can be to work around certain space constraints when we want to get a cool shot. In those cases where a DSLR is too bulky and you still need to get the shot, a smartphone can be a lifesaver. For instance, pinning your phone to the door can help you get the swinging door perspective from it opening and closing as your subject walks through it, something that would otherwise be a bit more difficult to achieve.
Flip phone to Make Easy and Smooth Transitions
Making swift transitions and clean cuts is one of the simplest things to do, yet one of the hardest things to truly get right and refine. With smartphones, the inevitable main obstacle to overcome is image stabilization, particularly to avoid blurry and choppy transitions. One way to create smooth transitions easily is to grab one end of your phone and drop it so it swings down. The motion is quick enough that it allows you to cut and create a transition using the same technique in reverse.
Color your flash to balance your light
The flash on your phone is white or yellowish, and often very hard on subjects in front of the camera. You can easily adjust this using a marker or a piece of colored paper and then taping it on top of your flash. Doing this will diffuse the intensity of the flash to some degree, and depending on the color you paint your flash, it might work best to suit the skin tone of your characters or to set up the mood of the scene.
Use String to Create a Cinematic Lens Flare
There are tips that translate roughly the same way from DSLR filmmaking to smartphone videography. You can tape a string across the camera lens of your phone to obtain the same effect you would using an anamorphic lens on a regular camera. The light being “split” by the string causes a lens flare that some people consider a cool cinematic effect, so knowing you can replicate it in your smartphone with a very low budget is quite useful.
Use Clay as a Stabilizer for Your Phone
Finally, an accessible material like clay can serve as a stabilizer for your smartphone if you have either static or moving shots. You just need to shape your clay into a dough-like consistency and place your phone on it so it holds it still. For tracking shots and other camera movements, you can try placing your phone and clay on top of other things that roll smoothly like a sheet of paper or a towel as you pull or push the end opposite to where your phone is.