With the surge of the newest technological advancements, cinematography has managed to ride the wave in the last couple of years. Back then, the only equipment you can film is with a 35 mm film camera, DSLR, or a traditional camcorder. But now, any aspiring filmmaker has a vast array of choices of more convenient and cheaper alternatives like filmmaking with an iPhone.
Filming with an iPhone has become more common in the industry as it allows both beginners and professionals to explore the wonders of filmmaking through a compact smartphone. This means that anyone can record, edit, and share their masterpiece by merely filming with their own phones. In fact, there are marketing materials by big brands, music videos of popstars, blockbuster movies, and popular vlogs that were filmed using an iPhone. That’s how powerful an iPhone is.
Knowing that even the best of filmmakers use the iPhone to create beautiful pieces of art, there’s nothing to stop you from picking up your smartphone and starting to shoot that scenic view you always wanted to capture. Once you’ve captured the footage of your dreams, check out our online video editing courses, to perfect your masterpiece.
Aside from the convenience, the recent releases of the iPhone provide you with tons of other powerful features that can keep up or even win over the average film cameras.Why the iPhone is a good filmmaking device
The most apparent reason for convenience is the iPhone’s portability. You can bring it anywhere sans the hassle of carrying a heavy-duty camera and other equipment. This allows you to shoot easily in the busiest or skimpiest crowd while maintaining high-quality videos. Its compactness lets you explore all possible angles with ease.
Built-in stabilization feature
The iPhone has an in-built stabilization feature that minimizes the sudden jerks and movements you incur while shooting. The iPhone is pretty small, making it difficult to maintain stability as you go. But the good news is, the iPhone figured out this drawback, so it is now built with a stabilization feature to control shaky movements.
High-resolution of 4k
4k is the standard resolution from models 6s and up. This high-resolution paves the way for a better quality video that can compete with an actual clip captured with a high-end camera. With full HD resolution at 1080p, iPhone provides a high-quality video that viewers will enjoy. Even the front camera of the new releases such as the iPhone 11 Pro captures at 4k resolution.
Crisp image quality
iPhones have pretty impressive upgraded lenses that record much more sharp and crisp videos. For example, the iPhone 11 has dual-lens with a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens (26mm focal length and f/1.8) and 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens (13 mm focal length and f/2.4). For every release, the iPhone keeps changing the game by upgrading its already competitive lenses.
Adjustable frames per second (fps)
A significant component of filmmaking is having the right fps for your project. The iPhone can record videos up to 60 fps. iPhone allows you to tweak what fps you want to use from 24 up to 60. This count creates a big difference in the quality of your videos.
The iPhone 11 series features A13 Bionic chip, an ARM-based processor that allows the phone to perform just like a supercomputer. It is once dubbed as the fastest chip ever to be embedded in a smartphone. This was the ultimate game-changer for the newly released iPhone 11 series as it is built to have the fastest GPU performance while holding longer battery life.
The fast processor and longer battery life will make any filmmaking such a breeze.
Several filmmaking apps
Filming with the iPhone is so much more convenient through the use of various filmmaking apps available. Perfect for amateurs, these apps ease the process of adding filters, tweaking the exposure triangle, color grading, and even altering some corrections. Popular iPhone filmmaking apps include Filmic Pro, MoviePro, Mavis, iMovie, Moment, Procam, and Adobe Premiere Rush.
Low-end versions are still fine
You don’t have to own the latest iPhone model just to start filming with it. Even groundbreaking films used earlier iPhone models such as the iPhone 4, iPhone 6, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7 plus. These movies are enough to convince you that filmmaking is possible with the iPhone. It’s up to your preference to use a newer model to keep up with the latest technology.
The drawbacks of filmmaking with an iPhone
Despite all the positives you can get from filming with an iPhone, there are some drawbacks. iPhone filmmaking has its limitations, and you should familiarize yourself with them before you start shooting. Here are some disadvantages you should know before filming with an iPhone.
Difficult to stabilize
Being small, the iPhone makes it harder to control the movements since it’s handheld and so compact. But since it has a built-in feature for stabilization, it controls unnecessary movements for you. However, using a gimbal or a tripod will double the job of ensuring stabilization and comfortability while filming.
Sensitive to low light
Having low light and high ISO is the perfect recipe for a grainy video. Even with a wide aperture, the video quality might appear grainy and noisy since it will have a hard time adapting to certain conditions. What will help you avoid this is having the correct lighting equipment to go together with your subjects.
Fixed wide-angle format
The lenses of an iPhone are mostly not adjustable. This gives you a fixed wide-angle format while zooming in creates a pixelated quality. You will have to move closer to your subject since there is little to no depth of field.
Shooting with high resolution takes up tons of memory of your iPhone. If you decide to film 4k resolution at 60 fps, every minute can eat up to 400Mb. This limitation in the storage will cause you to upgrade ROM to accommodate such big clips you are going to store.
Compromised audio recording
While an iPhone has a built-in microphone that comes in handy in recording the audio while filming, you will need some more equipment to ensure clarity of recordings. Taking a video on iPhone will automatically use its noise-canceling feature. Still, it is not as effective if you are using a supplementary mic in the background like a directional mic.
You can attach directional mics onto your iPhone, or have an external boom mic set up for clear audio recordings.
Tips to improve your iPhone filmmaking experience
You can easily overcome the cons of iPhone filmmaking by doing some adjustments and applying a few tweaks to your filming process. Here are some tips that you can do to improve your iPhone filmmaking experience.
Use a filmmaking app
An iPhone filmmaking app sets your films apart from ordinary video captures from your iPhone’s built-in recorder. Filmmaking apps like Filmic Pro, Procam, and MoviePro give you all the settings you need such as ISo, aperture and shutter speed under your control. If you have control over these settings, you can manipulate how your footage looks because you have control over light.
Shoot over good light
iPhones are known to capture good images even under poor lighting conditions. Still, it cannot match the quality of a high-end video camera lens. And if you want to capture sharp and clear images as much as you can, providing optimal lighting is the best way you can do so with an iPhone. Try to shoot away from the source of light and use reflectors to minimize any excessive contrast which could compromise your video quality.
If you find that you have no choice but to shoot in low light, you can place your phone in a case with a mounted light.
Use a stabilizer
A shaky film is not the most professional-looking capture. To make your iPhone filmmaking experience more seamless and pro-looking, investing in a stabilizer or gimbal for your phone is a great idea.
There are three popular gimbal brands among iPhone filmmakers: the DJI, Zhiyun, and Freefly. For only a few hundred bucks, you can transform your videos from amateurish to professional. Your captures will be so smooth and so seamless that it will look as if they were shot by an entire film crew.
Use a microphone
As stated above, even though iPhones come with built-in microphones, they are too tiny and cannot properly capture sound as a good microphone would. The only remedy to this is to get in as close as you can to the subject (which may compromise your video) or get a separate microphone to capture sound. Alternatively, you can also add the sound after the filming process by doing a voice-over.
Another thing you could do to make your iPhone films look more cinematic is to do color correction. Color correction is the process of ensuring that the colors present as they should. You can also opt to color-grade your entire video if you want to give it a more artistic vibe, or you can do color-correction to manually change, add, or remove colors of certain aspects of the film.
Edit on a computer
Even though you’ve managed to film the entire thing on your iPhone, it is still recommended that you edit the finished product on a computer. A computer with film-editing software is still more comprehensive and more advanced than the available settings on an iPhone app. This way, you can make the final touches on your film with more detail and finesse.
All in all, the iPhone is undeniably an excellent alternative for high-end film cameras when filming a project of yours. It might come with some drawbacks, but all these are easy to mediate. Even professional filmmakers have proven quality films using the iPhone, so there is nothing to worry about.
Want to dive into a more in-depth tutorial on how you can start filmmaking with your iPhone? Here’s an online mastery course to get you started: Introduction to Filmmaking Using an iPhone. It teaches you all you need to know to capture exceptional films using only your iPhone. The course is presented by a globally-awarded director and is completely beginner-friendly.