You’ve decided you need to make short videos for your social media, and you have a great smartphone with a high-quality camera – so what’s next?
What are the essential pieces of equipment you should invest in to make that phone a super video production tool?
Here are the essentials I believe you need to take your video-making to the next level.
They won’t cost you a fortune, and by taking good care of them, they will last you a long time and really make a difference to the quality of videos you can produce.
In all examples, I have tried to choose items that are not overly expensive; neither are they the cheapest you can get. I do find that the cheapest is not always the best or most long-lasting.
Good sound is one of the most important elements of a video. If you can’t hear the person speaking properly, then you’ve lost your audience. I know you can do subtitles (more on that later), but once you capture people’s attention, they will want to hear your or your subject’s vo
ice- properly. Of course you can also record on your phone, but if the subject is more than arm’s length away, it is not the best. For that you need a decent microphone.
1. Hide the lead.
2. Enable the speaker to move around.
3. Enable the recordist to move back a good distance if necessary.
The microphone also comes with a very effective windshield which reduces wind noise when outside to practically zero. This is the least expensive option of the Rode lavalier mics.
If you want to go wireless, there are 2 options: the Rode Wireless Go system, which is a receiver and transmitter system, attachable to the smartphone or existing Smartlav Plus. This system is also suitable for DSLR cameras.
If you want a wireless that’s designed only for smartphones or
mobile gadgets, there’s the Rode Wireless ME, which again is a receiver and transmitter, with windshields, and appropriate cables. Cheaper than the Wireless Go, but similar. Very compact, ideal for recording with a smartphone for high quality stereo sound.
Tripods are an essential piece of kit for those who are making video interviews in a static environment, e.g. interviews in an office, or in a location where there is not much movement going on.
A decent tripod with a suitable clamp for the phone is perfect for recording someone at their eye level when they are sitting o
r standing, as it enables you to adapt the height to that of the speaker.
I often use a tripod with the legs extended just one section on a table or office desk to enable me to record someone who is standing. A tripod gives you totally steady and level recording, and hands-free too. The tripod we recommend is both lightweight but also solid and tall enough for most people – the Manfrotto check which one they have on camerakit.ie
Or the shoulderpod T1 which I haven’t tried yet, but looks amazing as it also doubles as a stabiliser and therefore no gimbal needed.
CLAMP & HANDHELD TRIPOD
The Shoulderpod range has some super stuff including the Shoulderpod G2 clamp, the simple clamp comes with a grip for your phone and adapters for an external light and mic, to achieve a professional smartphone video.
When it comes to lighting, you can’t go wrong with natural lighting. However, Irish weather doesn’t always permit that!
In terms of additional lighting make sure it’s an LED and can take batteries. With a range of options from white light to soft, giving options for winter as well as indoors.
We recommend the Shoulderpod L2 video light, part of the Shoulderpod range. This portable and affordable LED light is great for your smartphone videos.
I’ve looked at a lot of apps for editing videos on your smartphone and most of them have a lot of options. The free ones can give you the basics of text and music, and there are very expensive ones which can give you broadcast quality editing functions e.g. Filmic Pro. But for the day-to-day quality videos, with lots of text, music and transitions options,
I recommend the InShot app. This is not that expensive, has super functions and is suitable for both Apple and Android phones. That’s the one we teach with on our Mobile Video Storytelling online courses.
BAG FOR EVERYTHING.
Now that you have taken the plunge and invested in a small but very effective set of kit, make sure to keep it all together in one place. The Rode mics come with their own little bags, and the Shoulderpod kit can be connected up easily once taken out of its rather bulky box.
You’ll also need to keep an adapter plug or two, a charger cable, and maybe even a power bank with you, so a good small shoulder bag is an essential.
This one from one of our favourite supplier, camerakit.ie in Terenure in Dublin, is not that expensive, and will likely be able to take a tripod as well, and looks super neat.
I would consider a power bank if you are doing a lot of outdoor filming, as there is nothing worse than watching your phone power down while you are getting to the best part of your video filming.
Make sure to spend a bit of money on a decent power bank, and of course, make sure it’s fully charged before you head out.
There are tons of suppliers, tons of choice and loads of options for getting your kit bag together. I hope this blog has helped you make some key decisions with your smartphone video-making.
Aileen O’Meara is an award-winning journalist and producer, and the founder of the Rathdown Media Institute, a training service that specializes in online and tutor-led media and communications skills courses.
Find out more about upcoming and new courses at www.rathdownmediainstitute.ie
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