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Ep. 10: Cool Gear

Andrea Allen
June 18, 2014 by Andrea Allen PRO

Mobile shooting is incredibly convenient, but sometimes a little gear can go a long way to improving your videos. In this lesson, we'll go over some gear options and their many benefits.

First up: lenses. Lens attachments on your phone will allow you to experiment with different focal lengths that will significantly change the nature of your shot. Maybe you want to show a really wide shot, so you go with a fisheye lens, or get closer to your subject but not zoom using a telephoto lens. There are also macro lenses that are wonderful at capturing the tiny details you only see really close to a subject.

One of the wisest investments you can make is a tripod. There are a number of manufacturers who make tripods for mobile devices and we've found Joby's GorillaPod Video tripod with it's magnetic feet and fluid pan/tilt motion to be very lightweight, yet stable enough for a phone. We recommend using it with the GripTight Mount for Smartphones as your device will sit more securely.

Obviously, your hands probably won't shake quite this much, but even a moderate amount of camera instability can be distracting if not intended. If you don't have access to a tripod, try putting your elbows on a table or leaning against a wall to smooth out your shots.

A tripod is definitely one of the easiest ways to improve your shots — a little stability can go a long way to improving your shots. And, if you're interested in shooting time-lapse with your mobile device or another camera, a tripod is essential.

Next up, we have bounces, which really help fill in shadows when you have a strong light source.

Bounces are inexpensive, and the diffuse lighting they provide can really help your subjects look more evenly lit and cinematic.

Finally, sliders are an excellent way to get smooth controlled shots that add an interesting visual dynamic but don't distract from the subject since the motion is smooth.

A slider can also come in handy when you want to reveal depth in a shot. If you don't have a slider handy, you can also try laying a towel or cloth underneath your mobile device as your hands move across a smooth surface.

Unfortunately, at the time of this publication we were unable to find any mobile-video specific microphones that performed well enough to merit mentioning.

Welp, that's a wrap for mobile device gear. Happy video creating!

  1. 1.
    Make beautiful and shareable videos on your phone — it’s ridiculously simple.
  2. 2.
    With just a few technical adjustments, your mobile videos will look better than ever.
  3. 3.
    Get smart with sunbeams and artsy with artificial light to make your subjects pop.
  4. 4.
    External mics are cool, but you know what else is cool? We’ll tell you.
  5. 5.
    Sidle up to shooting, framing, and the rule of thirds.
  6. 6.
    Get up close and personal with close-up, medium, and wide shots.
  7. 7.
    Learn simple storytelling techniques and the art of the narrative arc.
  8. 8.
    Behind every good story, there lies a good plan. Make a shot list!
  9. 9.
    Don’t bury your mobile masterpiece in your camera roll — share it with the world!
  10. Mobile shooting is incredibly convenient, but sometimes a little gear can go a long way to improving your videos.


The Film Artist PRO

I will definitely watch all of them, this is a brilliant resource for all of us and there are lots of cool gear out there, I'm pretty excited in seeing the development of easy to use drones and handheld electronic gimbal stabilsation devices :)

Dave Greene

Andrea your speech is distracting and difficult to understand at times.

How about removing all the foofah stuff, get what you're going to tell me, tell me, then remind me what you've told me into fewer moments of BS...

The organization episodes were the best...

Thanks and better luck next time

Cresskill Video Production PRO

I think Andrea did a great job. This series is obviously aimed at a younger, less experienced audience and I think her delivery methodology hits home.

Richard Potter Plus

I enjoyed these lessons and I learned a lot. Very easy and fun to watch. Thanks,

Cresskill Video Production PRO

Andrea - Thanks for this series. I will use these videos to reinforce concepts covered in our "video storytelling" unit in our middle school technology course. Plus

Thanks Andrea! I found your style of teaching fun and informative, loved the recaps at the end. I started to load a video and it stopped. That is when I noticed the Video school it didn't take long to watch them as they were short and funny. Good job !

ProduWeb TV PRO

Røde SmartLav+ is now a pretty decent microphone (way better than the previous SmartLav).

But a bit short, so you'll have to buy an extension cable and make sure it has TRRS connection. Rode has the SC1.

sophia luypaert

Thank you for this great serie! make it short and... funny! Love it!
One question: using my galaxy S5 to make video, sound is still very poor.
Do you have any suggestions for a microphone with a 5m cord to use with Glaxy S5? thank you

Martyn Randles

loved the entire series, great work & thanks Andrea :) I may have been making films for decades which has mainly taught me that the best investment of my time at the onset of any film project; in this case I'm finally going to get an iPhone, I want to use Cameo, so I watch one blog which lead me to this series. I thoroughly enjoyed the lot & I feel educated for free...which is also a great bonus. Thank you :)

Frank Adamo

Thanks for all the helpful advice!

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