Taking Steps to Better iPhone Video - Part 2

Put that phone to work capturing great video!

In Part 1 we covered a few of the basics: avoiding the digital zoom, holding our iPhone in landscape mode, and stabilizing our shots with handy add-ons like the iOgrapher. Let’s continue with a few more handy pointers, and get that iPhone shooting it’s best.

Step 4. Think audio!

No video is complete without decent audio, and the smartphone introduces a couple of challenges when it comes to recording clean, crisp sound.

To start, the microphone picks up just about everything around it, so isolating a voice or particular sound can be tricky. Much like our advice in Part 1 about physically moving closer to a subject to avoid using the digital zoom, the best bet for clean audio - if you’re using the iPhone microphone - is to get that microphone as close to what you’re capturing. You’ll have the best chance at hearing what you want to hear.

If clean audio is too important to chance on the phone's built-in microphone, there are a number of great, affordable, portable mics on the market that can improve sound quality immensely. Depending on the type of recording you’re after, there are a few types of microphones worth looking at.

Lapel microphones - also called lavaliere microphones - clip onto a lapel, and provide great audio by sitting close to the speaker’s mouth. Wired and wireless options are both available, and there are options to fit most budgets.

The most popular microphone type for casual shooting is what’s called a shotgun microphone. Offering superior quality and a recording directionally - capturing based on what’s it’s pointed at instead of simply capturing everything - the shotgun mic is a plug-in-and-go option. Just keep in mind that there’s a special cable needed to connect external microphones to the iPhone’s headphone jack.

Step 5. Just add light!

Just as adding a better quality microphone makes your video sound better, there are great ways to get your video looking better. You know how Hollywood cinematographers light a scene? Well, just like them the rest of us need to keep lighting at the top of our mind when shooting video. Small, inexpensive lights for video can make a huge difference in the quality of the image we capture. Many offer options to adjust the light color to suit a scene, or adjust light intensity.

Even though many are fancy, it’s not necessary to spend a bundle to see improvement with lighting. Inexpensive LED camping lights, work lights from a home improvement store, or even the lamps in the room can make a huge difference in how a final image looks.

If there aren’t any lights to put to use, it’s ok to use what’s already in the room. Sun coming through a window, moonlight, a candle…you name it, and it can make a difference. Reflective surfaces such as a baking sheet covered in foil, or a store-bought photo-video reflector can bounce whatever light happens to be in the room into the place you need it most.

There are many other tips and tricks we will cover in the coming weeks to improve mobile video results, but these tips will get you off to a good start.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that all of these pointers apply to most video efforts. Stable, well-lit shots with great audio are the goal each and every time we lift a camera, but the hardware and software limitations of the iPhone - as well as it’s incredible potential as a capture device - make it a particularly fun and enjoyable challenge to shoot with.