Mobile Filmmaking 101: Ultimate Guide for Your Smartphone

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Over the last decade, filming on a smartphone device has become increasingly popular as the quality has been refined. Although films and short videos have traditionally been made usinghigh-quality mirrorless, DSLR, or other professional-grade camera rigs — the smartphone industry has revolutionized our creative process. Because our smartphones’ camera lenses and in-house applications are so advanced, you can produce quality videos without the need for expensive camera equipment.

If you’re an aspiring beginner with little experience or knowledge of glossary terms, check out our article to learn about mobile filmmaking basics, such as ISO, shutter speed, focus peaking, and more.

But if you understand how manual settings work and want to take your footage to the next level with unique tricks, gear recommendations, or editing apps, read below for our ultimate guide to mobile filmmakers on your smartphone.

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1. Adjust Manual Settings

When it comes to crafting captivating films, whether it's on your trusty smartphone or a professional camera, there are a few key elements that you absolutely need to understand: ISO, frame rate, aperture, and shutter speed. These manual settings can shape your footage’s visual aesthetics and overall mood and will take your lackluster-looking phone footage into something much more impressive.

Achieve all the tools you need and more in the Moment Pro Camera App. It’s beyond what your smartphone’s native app provides, and it’s easy to learn. A few basic settings to become familiar with are listed below:

ISO - ISO values are typically represented as numbers, such as ISO 100, ISO 400, or ISO 3200. A lower ISO, such as ISO 100, is less light-sensitive and is commonly used in well-lit environments or when a filmmaker wants to achieve a clean and noise-free image. However, it may require more light or longer exposure times to achieve proper exposure.

Shutter Speed - In filmmaking, shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second, such as 1/60, 1/120, or 1/1000. A faster shutter speed, such as 1/1000, captures less light and freezes motion, resulting in sharper images with minimal motion blur. This is ideal for capturing fast-paced action sequences or creating a dramatic effect.

Frame Rate - The most common frame rates in video production are 24, 25, and 30 frames per second (fps). A higher frame rate, such as 60 or 120 fps, can result in smoother motion. Choosing the appropriate frame rate depends on the desired visual effect and the intended use of the video. A lower frame rate, like 24 fps, is often preferred for its cinematic look. It is commonly used in narrative films and provides a slightly more "filmic" and natural motion.

Aperture - In filmmaking, the aperture is measured in f-numbers or f-stops, such as f/2.8, f/4, or f/16. A lower f-number, like f/2.8, indicates a broader aperture opening, allowing more light to enter the lens. This results in a shallow depth of field, where the subject appears sharply focused while the background is blurred.

But there’s so much more. We have a comprehensive article detailing these manual settings, more basic tricks, and mobile filmmaking courses that will be your one-stop shop for everything you need.

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Mobile Filmmaking 101

Moment

Join Dewey in an hour-long mobile filmmaking course and unleash your creativity. Discover storytelling techniques, master framing, lighting, and audio, and create stunning films using just your smartp...

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2. Find a Way To Stabilize Your Camera

Smartphones have become powerhouses in packing advanced features into their compact size, making them remarkable tools for cinematography. However, their small form factor makes them susceptible to camera shake, especially during moving shots. This is where gimbals play a crucial role by providing the necessary stability and enabling filmmakers to capture smooth, professional-looking footage. Using a smartphone gimbal, you can elevate your videos from good to great, and really nail the professional vibe.

Although new gimbals are introduced every year, the advancements moving forward are expected to be incremental compared to the exceptional features already present in the top smartphone gimbals available today.

After extensively testing numerous gimbals, it became evident that only a handful of brands consistently deliver the hardware and software quality required for reliable shooting. Among these options are the highly acclaimed Osmo Mobile 6 from DJI and the Smooth 5S from Zhiyun. Read more on the details of our favorite smartphone gimbals here.

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Osmo Mobile 6

DJI

Osmo Mobile 6 is an intelligent smartphone stabilizer packed with creative features. It's not only compact and easily foldable to fit in your palm, but also launches automatically once unfolded to cap...

Add for $149
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3. Lenses For Mobile Phones

Adding high-quality mobile lenses to your smartphone arsenal can significantly elevate the visual capabilities of your films. Simply twist, and voila — better and even more unique-looking footage with real glass, no A.I tricks.

We offer M-Series lenses (for phones made before 2022) and T-Series lenses (for phones newer than 2022). Our T-Series is ideal for the new generation of Apple or Android phones, but our M-series is still a wonderful choice for older devices. We'll continue to make M-Series drop-in mounts for as long as they work, but T-Series is the new standard.

Our fan-favorite mobile Anamorphic lens is perfect for serious mobile creators wanting to create cinematic scenes similar to Blockbuster hits. It offers those classic black bars, a profound depth of field, and a smooth, almost buttery-like picture that’s difficult to replicate in post-production.

While our lenses may be priced at a premium compared to competitors, their outstanding optical performance, build quality, and durability make them a worthwhile investment for serious mobile filmmakers.

4. Mobile Filters

Filters play a crucial role in filmmaking by modifying the light entering the camera lens, resulting in various artistic effects and practical advantages. They are essential for controlling exposure, enhancing colors, reducing glare, and achieving specific visual aesthetics. Regarding mobile filmmaking, filters remain just as important for smartphone creators who aspire to capture high-quality videos.

One particular filter that mobile creators can significantly benefit from is the Variable Neutral Density (VND) filter. The VND filter is a versatile tool that allows users to adjust the amount of light entering the lens by rotating the filter ring, thereby enabling precise control over exposure settings. This filter is particularly valuable when shooting videos with a smartphone for several reasons. By incorporating a VND filter, mobile creators can overcome this limitation and achieve more balanced and professional-looking footage, even in challenging lighting conditions.

Whether shooting in bright outdoor environments or capturing low-light scenes, the VND filter enables fine adjustments to prevent overexposure or underexposure, resulting in well-exposed and visually appealing videos.

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5. Lighting 101

While I’m a fan of natural light, it’s essential to understand the fundamentals of external light sources and how they can improve your footage during low-light scenarios or during studio interviews or talking heads.

Brands like ring lights for vertical TikTok mayhem, most of these products come under an excellent $100 accessible price point.

For more detailed information, check out an article by our beloved creator, Audre Larrow, detailing which studio lights are best for your project, spanning both beginner and high-end picks.

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6. Enhancing Audio for Your Smartphone

Audio is the most important component of a good short film or video, if we’re being honest. While audio equipment isn’t the sexiest thing to discuss (and can sometimes seem pretty complicated if you’re new to this skillset), it makes your video work more compelling if you use high-quality mobile microphones or on-camera shotguns for your interview sections, talking heads, or voice-overs.

Because while smartphones have built-in microphones, they often struggle to capture clear and professional-grade audio. Investing in dedicated audio gear is highly recommended to elevate your mobile filmmaking — like the JOBY Wavo Plus. This compact and affordable shotgun microphone attaches directly to your phone and provides super crisp sound made easy with no added steps or applications to operate.

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7. Editing Apps

Once you have your footage shot, it’s time to get to the fun part: editing! Here are a few essential techniques to learn if you choose in-app software like CapCut or Adobe Premiere.

  1. Trim and Cut: Streamline your video's flow by removing unnecessary footage. Maintain a deliberate pace to captivate your audience.
  2. Transitions: Thoughtfully employ transitions to connect clips or scenes seamlessly. Avoid excessive and distracting transitions.
  3. Color Correction: Enhance the visual appeal of your video by adjusting brightness, contrast, and saturation. Consistent color grading creates a cohesive style.
  4. Text and Titles: Utilize text and titles to provide context, introduce new sections, or convey important information. Maintain a professional look through consistent fonts and colors.
  5. Music and Sound Effects: Elevate the mood and ambiance of your video with appropriate music and sound effects. Balance audio levels to ensure clear dialogue.

Now that you have familiarized yourself with editing apps and fundamental techniques, it's time to apply your newfound skills. Experiment with various editing styles to discover what best suits your content and personal preferences. You’re ready to rock and roll.

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