Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Quickly shooting video on the iPhone

Recently, I've been looking into doing more first reponder filming; capturing footage that doesn't need huge amounts of prep time or kit; video that can be quickly uploaded onto YouTube after being shot, distributed an hour or so after being filmed.

As it's connected to my hip anyway, my iPhone5 seemed a good a place as any to start.

But, while it's got a fairly decent camera Yodaing it up on the back, filming on the iPhone has always produced awful footage; more shaky wedding video where the wedding has a free bar and you've had a couple of beers and you sort of need the toilet but don't want to miss the first dance than slick corporate video.

 With this in mind, and kindly sponsored by my lovely employers Delineo, I've been trying out a few bits of kit to see if I can capture video without too much dicking around (industry term), both on-site and back in the office.

Firstly, there's the shaky-cam issue. Obviously, handheld video is always going to get a bit wobbly; arms get tired, legs fidget, you get distracted by a bumblebee.

In the end, I settled on a fairly nice solution in the shape of a smartphone grip for my mini tripod; a pincer that holds the phone in place during filming. It does the job well. Your smartphone isn't going to plummet to the ground and your footage stays strictly on the horizon.*

 Secondly, there's the issue of sound. In my experience, the iPhone does fine and dandy with recording audio if it's fairly close to the source of the noise. It's alright for talking heads and the like, but not so much with anything else.

I picked up this microphone for a tenner. It's nothing special, but it's lightweight and produces much better audio than the iPhone can manage on its own. There are also two settings - wide and narrow - depending on how close you are to the source. I've not really played around with it as much as I should have, and I suspect it might fall over at any great distance, but it does the job so far.

Editing and uploading is fairly easy via the iMovie app. I put together the video below for an event I was helping to run for Didsbury Arts Festival, compiling multiple videos, in a couple of hours. Uploading it to YouTube took about fifteen minutes over WiFi, which wasn't too shabby for a two minute, high-res video. I probably wouldn't want to do it over 3G though.


 Keep in mind a couple of things though:

 Storage. My phone is a 16GB iPhone5. It's full of apps and I only managed to capture about an hour of footage before it started getting fat with files.

Battery. You'll need an external battery. As a starter, this one has worked out well for me, so I'd probably begin the search here.

Quality. At the end of the day, you're shooting on a smartphone. Light, sound and picture quality are always going to be a little on the rough side. Just bear it in mind before promising the world.

 Happy shooting.

 *As an aside, ALWAYS film horizontally, unless you like attractive black borders around your video on YouTube.

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