Tips

The Ultimate Guide To Shooting Manual Video on Mobile

July 17, 2018
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Gorgeous mobile filmmaking is more than just swiping up into the native app and hitting record. Really understanding your manual settings will affect the final output of your video. By conceptualizing manual settings like frames per second, resolution, shutter speed, and more. — you’ll be shooting movies on your phone like a true pro in no time. Download the Moment Pro Camera App to unlock full manual controls on your mobile device.

Below is everything you need to know for getting the best possible video on your mobile device.


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Frame Rate

A frame rate is the frequency at which motion video sequences are displayed. The higher frame rate (120 FPS) is supposed to make fast action scenes look smoother when put in slow motion, while a slower frame rate (24FPS) allows the footage to appear more cinematic. Depending upon how slow or fast the frame rate is crucial to figuring how life-like the motion appears. A too slow of frame rate will look jagged and awkward, while a fast life-action movie filmed at an unnecessary 48 FPS will mimic a soap-opera quality that audiences tend to dislike.

If you’re shooting a normalized scene at a life-like speed, but are still aiming for a cinematic spice, then shoot at either 24ps or 30fps.

For slow-motion with buttery movements, switch to either 60fps 120fps to add production quality to your film.


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Resolution

A big topic of conversation is the major differences are when shooting in 1080p vs 4K. To put these in simple, technical terms — 4K resolution is exactly 3840 x 2160 pixels, whilst 1080P consists of 1920 x 1080 pixels. So, yeah. 4K is the ultimate resolution setting for ultra high definition outputs.

Truth is, if you have enough storage space on your phone then always shoot your video in 4K. Although each video file is massive in size, you’ll be able to tell the difference in quality between the two variants. At an aspect ratio of 16:9, 4K contains almost four times the number of pixels on a screen compared with 1080P technology — more than eight million pixels for 4K and just two million pixels for 1080P, according to Filmora Wondershare.

Your smartphone’s native app won’t have the ability to independently control these settings, that’s why our Moment camera app comes in handy when wanting to control how each scene is portrayed.


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Shutter Speed

Defined at its most basic level, the “shutter speed” refers to the amount of time the camera’s shutter is open. Think of it as the length of time that your image sensor ‘sees’ the scene you’re attempting to capture in motion.

Most filmmakers follow what’s coined as the “180 rule”. With your camera’s physical shutter, 180 means it's open for half of the exposure and closed for the other half. So at 24fps, you'd have an effective exposure of 1/48. At 50fps, it would be 1/100. At 100fps, it would be 1/200. So on and so forth. Of course, you’re more than welcome to utilize a higher shutter speed, although that is never generally recommended as it will look more haggard.

In many cinema cameras, there’s something called the 180º shutter angle rule; which, if you set it to 180º, it will automatically adjust the shutter speed for you. Granted, some cinematographers like to switch up the shutter speed or shutter angle based on stylistic preference.


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ND Filters

If you’re wanting to create a shallow depth of field in your shot by using a wide aperture, but are struggling to find proper exposure, using a neutral density (ND) filter will dramatically improve your chances at catching your shot correctly. ND filters make it possible to maintain your desired exposure settings, while still reducing the amount of motion blur being produced by a slow shutter speed.

Using these little guys can be especially helpful for shooting timelapses or buttery slow motion that require additional tools to perfect the shot. Adjusting each control setting on your phone (such as shutter speed, exposure value, etc.) is made easy on the ND filter.


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ISO

ISO is the level of your camera’s sensitivity to available light in the scene. The lower the ISO number, the less sensitive it is to the light, while a higher ISO number increases the sensitivity of your camera.  Always begin with an ISO at the lowest possible number. This will introduce the least amount of noise into the frame, which is crucial for producing an overall high-quality video. High noise levels produced with a high ISO is extremely noticeable in video and can be uncomfortable to stare at for long periods of time.

If you are wanting to shoot in low light – how far can you bump up your ISO without making it look terrible? You’re safe for anything under an ISO of 600, but anything over may either require a tripod or external lighting systems.


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White Balance

Not all light is created equal – so it’s imperative to understand the basic essentials of what white balance is how we can adjust it accordingly.

Light sources emit a range of colorful sources known as “kelvin”. No, not the terrible Instagram filter from 2012 (though I see why they got the name), but a colorful spectrum that runs from white/blue to yellow/orange. The cooler the image, the more blue in tone and the warmer the image, the more yellow in tone. Simple, no?

One of the best ways to ensure you’re in the correct white balance setting is holding up a white piece of paper in front of the sensor. Adjust the kelvin setting to a higher number (cool) or a lower number (warm) until the piece of paper looks like white to your naked eye.



BONUS: The Gear We Love

Shooting with just your phone is cool, but using extra goodies for extra cinematic goodness is even cooler. Gear like gimbals and counterweights add an extra spin on mobile filmmaking that will really make your work stand out from the crowd.

It’d be impossible to showcase all of the fantastic tools and resource made available for mobile filmmakers, but some of our favorites are:

  1. Rode VideoMicro
  2. Filter Mount (62mm)
  3. Hoya 3 Stop & 6 Stop ND
  4. Universal Gimbal Counterweight
  5. ROV Mobile Traveler Slider
  6. Freefly Movi
  7. Anamorphic Lens


Understanding the importance of manually controlling each setting will drastically improve your mobile filmmaking skills. Creativity is more than just hitting the green button on a camera, true art forms from the mechanics of your tools. We hope these tips inspire you to create some cinematic magic, folks.

Download the Moment Pro Camera App to unlock your full potential. Happy filming!