Four Tips for Shooting Movies on Your iPhone

Would you ever consider shooting a business video using only your iPhone? Why not – some people are shooting entire films that way.

To celebrate that accomplishment, two enthusiasts names Matt Dessner and Corey Rogers are throwing the first ever Original iPhone Film Fest. They’ve just opened the call for entries, and will accept them until September 30, 2011. Winners will be announced in October.

This isn’t just a novelty event, either. Dessner and Rogers have enlisted Macworld as a sponsor, recruited the members of Maroon 5 and New York Times technology columnist David Pogue as judges, and gotten iPads and Apple TVs as prizes.

“For me, the idea behind the festival is about the equality of filmmaking and having a level playing field,” says Dessner. “I think the power behind the iPhone is that stories are going to get made and told that normally wouldn’t be. Gone from the occasion are the barriers that are usually in place, like cost and having to have a crew.”

Your camera might be small, but your results don’t have to be. We asked Dessner for his best iPhone-shooting tips, and here’s what he told us:

1. Don’t Rock the Boat
It can be hard holding an iPhone steady and you don’t want to give your audience motion sickness. Try an iStabilizer ($99) or the Zacuto Zgrip iPhone Pro ($295). Zacuto is a contest sponsor, but Dessner swears it’s a good product.

2. Use an External Mic
Just because you’re using your iPhone for video, don’t think that you can use it for audio, as well. You’ll need an external microphone, says Dessner, to get decent sound. Pick up this adapter from KV Connection ($25.65), which lets you connect both a mic and a pair of headphones to your iPhone’s audio jack, so you can record audio and monitor what you’re getting.

3. Use Available Lighting
Videomakers that rely on an iPhone probably aren’t lugging a big lighting kit around with them. Instead, get smart about using natural light. Make sure you have the sun behind you when filming, says Dessner. For shots that include movement, anticipate where the subjects will move and be sure you never have the subjects between you and the sun. If that happens, all you’ll get are silhouettes.

4. Edit on the iPhone
You don’t need to transfer your footage to your computer to edit it, says Dessner. There are some quality editing apps for the iPhone. The best is Apple iMovie ($4.99), but the Vimeo app (free) is also good. He also digs Movie Looks HD by Red Giant Software ($1.99) which lets you add a variety of cinematic effects to your footage.


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  1. I just bought and downloaded the Movie Looks app and trying it out now! I’m developing an existing clip to see how the effects will work! Thanks for the recommendations, and good tips!

    Posted by Jeremy Campbell | July 20, 2011, 11:25 am
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