The leaps that have been made when it comes to what our mobile devices are capable of are frankly staggering, especially if you look back at what we had to make do with in the early iterations of the humble cellphone.

How to Make Cinematic Masterpieces With Your Smartphone Seven Great Tips

Little more than two decades ago, the primary, and essentially only, job your mobile device had to perform was the ability to give you as an individual the ability to conduct a conversation, and even then, the service and quality available were patchy at best.

There are many basic errors that can be avoided and tips that can turn an amateurish production into something akin to a Hollywood blockbuster. You can choose to push the budget and adopt green screen lighting as well as other options that won’t break the bank.

To help you in your endeavor, here are seven tips that should make your smartphone video a visual feast.

Always Go Landscape

Whatever you do, do not shoot your video in portrait mode. Firstly because you don’t want to have those vertical black bars, as they kind of ruin the cinematic effect you are going for, and secondly, because landscape translates better to any format that your video may be watched in.

I.e., if it’s watched on a desktop once it’s complete or on a TV, or even on your smartphone, it will just look far more polished and professional when shot in landscape mode.

Steady the Footage

Unless you are Paul Greengrass and you are shooting the latest in the Bourne film series, do away with the shaky footage. Either get used to holding your phone in a way that keeps things as stable as possible or, alternatively, get yourself a gimbal or tripod of some kind.

These are very inexpensive and can very quickly convert a decent smartphone video or film into one that really looks top-of-the-line.

Try to Use Natural Light

However sophisticated your smartphone is, it’s still not going to be able to cut it if the light’s all wrong. Avoid backlighting, and the best advice we can give on this matter is to try and make as much of the natural light as you can.

This is, of course, fine for most instances unless you are trying to shoot some type of horror flick, in which case you could perhaps look to include as much of the action indoors, where you have more control over the light.

Plan Before You Shoot

This is a golden rule regardless of whether you are filming with top production gear or with a handheld device. Always plan out what you are going to shoot and be aware of the relevant limitations and opportunities that are placed on you.

The great thing about shooting with your phone is you can film as much as you like and then clean things up in the edit. Shoot, shoot, and shoot again. Get as many takes as it takes and try to capture the best sequence you can, without fear of the costs that would be associated with putting together a film or tv length project where a large number of the crew might be employed and therefore have to be paid.

Consider Additional Sound Recording Devices

Much like light, the sound is not always that great with smartphones. One option and technique that is commonly used is to record the sound via another mobile device, one that is perhaps nearer the performers in your production.

Alternatively, invest in a mic of some kind, and it doesn’t need to be fancy; you are not an undercover CIA unit; you just need equipment that is superior enough to catch everything without bringing in any incidental noise that you want to avoid.

Avoid Using Zoom

Using the zoom features on your phone will usually degrade the quality of the finished product, and it really isn’t that necessary. After all, one of the significant benefits of using a smartphone to record video is that you can move around; in other words, move closer to what it is you are filming, therefore reducing the need to zoom.

See What Your Smartphone is Capable Of, Try It Out

Most of us don’t use our smartphones to their fullest, and often there are valuable bits of kit under the bonnet. So, with this in mind, take a deep dive and check out what goodies your mobile has to offer.

Similarly, do lots of practice shooting. Check out presets, mess around with the different settings that are available, and generally get to know the way it operates, like the back of your hand.

Be Prepared

As your smartphone is an integral part of your project, you’ll need to make sure she is ready and capable for the job. That means always making sure you go out with a full battery and that you have plenty of storage.

You can offset these concerns with additional bits of hardware, though these may not always be applicable for the day of a shoot.

Learn to Edit

The key to quality video production is to be able to make the most of everything you’ve shot, and getting some practice with a good video editing package is crucial. You could, of course, look to outsource this aspect, but this may well add a big chunk to your overall costs, so why not look to do it yourself?

The best video editing software around is always intuitive, and while it may take a while to become a skilled editor, these are useful skills to have and will offer you more control over what comes out at the end.

iLounge author Lucy Bennett

Lucy Bennett is a Contributing Editor at iLounge. She has been writing about Apple and technology for over six years. Prior to joining iLounge, Lucy worked as a writer for several online publications.