3 smartphone film tips that will instantly make your video better

Do you want more cinematic videos, but can’t afford DSLRs or mirrorless cameras? Don’t sweat. You can use your smartphone.

In the first video of his 18 video series about mobile filmmaking, Patrick Levar shows us how we should be holding and moving our smartphones to get more cinematic video. When you typically think of a video shot on a smartphone, you think of an extremely shaky vertical video. But the camera you’ve got on your smartphone is actually capable of shooting professional looking videos. You just need to know how to use it:

Tip 1: Film horizontally!

While portrait mode on your phone is great for selfies, it shouldn’t be used for recording video except in very specific situations. When you shoot horizontally, you are using the entire screen to capture your scene. When you record vertically, your image will be displayed with big black lines on the sides of your video. The quickest way for your viewers to know you shot your video on a smartphone is to have the vertical black lines show up on your video.

“ … if you want to make your videos look better and you got to act like you’re filming a movie,” says Levar.

Tip 2: Tilt your smartphone up and down

The cinematic shots in the video may seem like they were shot with an expensive camera using expensive equipment, but really that look that way mainly because of simple camera movements “ … some of the shots [use just] basic film camera moves,” Levar says.

The first move you should use is the tilt. You simply hold your phone and tilt it upwards or downwards. That’s it. The second move is the pan. That’s another basic camera movement. A pan moves the camera either to the left of the right.

Tip 3: Slide your smartphone left or right and up or down

A slide isn’t to be confused with a tilt. A tilt is pivoted. A slide isn’t. So with a slide you are going to slide in a straight line either to the left, right, up, or down. The way to remember the difference between a slide and a tilt is that a tilt’s motion curves. A slide moves in a straight line.

These are very simple techniques that you should use every single time you’re recording with your smartphone. You’ll never get caught with a shaky vertical video again.

Sean Berry
Sean Berry
Sean Berry is Videomaker's Managing Editor.

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