Basic Phone Video Tips

Here are some rules of thumb to keep in mind for video:

  • Shoot horizontal — this is standard for all videos
  • Light your subject/ create proper contrast — considering the background and making sure you have the proper lighting will tend to produce a better result
  • Consider how you want to capture the scene — our goal is going to be capturing motion, which is something that we perceive very differently depending on our orientation to the moving subject. For example watching someone run straight at you vs. watching someone run from the side offers two very different perspectives on the same action – we will tend to see more of the forward motion from the side.
  • Consider a small tripod & shutter release — A tripod for your phone will allow you more stable and varied shots. The linked tripod can also wrap around objects so you can hang your camera in places that would otherwise be hard to shoot from. You could also consider making you own tripod: DIY Camera Tripod.

The articles below offer a few more tips for shooting videos on a smartphone. The primary things covered are: Composition, Lighting, and Point of View. 

Video Recording Apps

If you’d like to be doing more complex videography you could download an app to offer more control over the camera than the built in camera apps.

  1. ProMovie Recorder
    • Price: Free ($3 to remove watermark)
    • This app offers a lot of control, and can be a good starting point for videography apps.
  2. Mavis
    • Price: Free (up to $17 for full functionality)
    • This app has a better UI than ProMovie, but is very restricted in it’s free version.
  3. Filmic Pro
    1. Price: $15
    2. Haven’t had a chance to try this app — is highly rated by many sources.

All of the above resources were found in this article.

Experimenting With Perspective & Time Scale

This class has always been built on a base of experimentation – this still applies as we move into a video based format. As stated above, the camera’s perspective with respect to a moving subject can drastically change the output video. If we shoot a video in slow motion (which many smartphones can) we can see a surreal world where the weight of objects might seem changed and where we can observe patterns that would otherwise be invisible. If we attach a camera to a moving object like a fan or a hula-hoop our perspective on the motion of these objects drastically changes.

Fibers in video:

  • Thread Stories – artist’s instagram devoted to kinetic, activated mask

Apple put out a series of videos about some experiments they did using the iPhone to capture the dynamics of water, ice, fire and more:

Slofies – shot on iPhones, these demonstrate the odd and goofy world of slow mo video:

Moving Cameras – below are some cameras mounted on things to create unique captures:

Stop Motion

The realm of stop motion animation can be quite a rabbit hole, but we feel it should be included because it offers an immense amount of control over the motion & dynamics of the subject. If you are interested in stop motion, please consider focussing on the methods to puppet the subject rather than in-camera or post-processing work.

Here is an tutorial on creating stop motion with a smartphone.

Related artists: