How To Film On An iPhone

By June 30, 2017 No Comments

The Five-Part Strategy For Recording Great Videos On An iPhone

Every video project that comes through the door will be different. Whether it’s creating more content or boosting visibility. Video should be a huge part of your marketing strategy.
On occasion, iPhone video is the only resource we have available to us. Sometimes your budget or time constraints prevent us from filming.
There are tons of ways a videographer can work around not filming. But if you want to provide them with iPhone footage, there are a few things you should know.

It’s important to know the difference between a phone and a professional camera. Recording video on an iPhone is very different. Before we jump into filming better videos, let’s look at the limitations of a phone.

Why iPhone Videos Aren’t Perfect

The camera has come a long way since the iPhone arrived. We can now film 4K footage on a phone that fits in your pocket! This is something we never could have predicted ten years ago. But there are still many limitations of using a camera this small.
Here are a few reasons why the iPhone will never beat a professional camera:
  • Sensor Size – When you squeeze a camera into such a small space, you can only get so many pixels packed into one sensor. This means that the image quality can only improve so far and the video size can only get so large.
  • Light – This is also in relation to the sensor size. When you have a small sensor, less light is hitting the camera. When less light comes into the camera, your video will appear distorted in low-light. This can cause grain, noise, loss of detail and more.
  • Sound – iPhone videos rely on a very small microphone built into the camera. There are some great plug-in microphone options but this would mean planning. You would need to remember to bring a microphone with you. It’s also not very good at picking up sound from a distance. So you can only film certain types of videos under ideal settings.
  • Compression – When recording onto an iPhone, videos get compressed due to large file sizes. As video resolution increases, so does the file size. Phones can run out of space when filming longer videos.
Filming a video on an iPhone isn’t perfect, but there are many ways to increase the quality of your videos.
As a videographer, if I’m receiving footage from a client, I would love for it to be under the best circumstances.

iPhone Videos Can Look Professional

In fact, one filmmaker used an iPhone 5S to record a movie that went on to Sundance Film Festival. So it is possible to create great looking videos.
Let’s look at my five-part strategy for filming great looking videos on an iPhone… And save your video editor their sanity.

How To Film SLICK Videos on your iPhone

  1. Sound
  2. Lighting
  3. Image
  4. Content
  5. Kittens… Yes. Kittens.
It’s possible to create a great looking video but have the sound completely ruin it.
I’ve seen so many talented videographers and hobbyists record an amazing video. But when they ignore the sound, they left out fifty percent of the equation.
Sound can craft an environment or scene. It carves a secondary image in the mind of the viewer. If I’m watching a video and I can’t hear the speaker or there are distractions in the background, you’ve lost me. If the soundtrack music is too loud to hear anything else, you’ve lost me. If there was no microphone placed on the speaker, you’ve lost me. I don’t want to listen to a video recorded from the back of the room with the main speaker 100 feet away.
Be sure to grab a good microphone if you’re going to be filming on an iPhone.
My best recommendation is the Rode SmartLav for doing one person videos. This includes Vlogs or weekly Facebook Live videos.
Another great option if you don’t want to use a wired connection is the Zoom IQ7. On occasion you may find your speaker is at the other end of the room and a wireless setup is necessary.
Assuming you have a video editor to help you, a Tascam DR-10 can record locally on an SD card. The video editor can sync this pristine audio in post-production to the video you provide.
Sound is tricky but make sure you capture clear sound.
Good lighting is another piece of the video equation. If your scene is too dark, how will anyone focus on the video recording?
I recommend leveraging all lighting available to you. This means opening curtains, turning on all room lights and moving lamps into the room.
If you are keen on recording great looking videos and want a portable lighting setup, Neewer is great. They’re a budget video light kit manufacturer and for under $150 you can have great lighting.
A big issue I see with smartphone videos is they are vertical. We’ve gotten into a habit of recording Snapchat videos in this manner. Yet all our screens are horizontal. Your computer screen and tv are both horizontal.
When you record a vertical video, you are losing about half of the screen space. You may notice black bars on either side of your footage uploaded to YouTube & Facebook. Video editors can work around this but it’s best to record all information in horizontal.
It’s extremely important to film great content. Few people understand what will be interesting to their audience. Start by doing some research and polling. See if you can ask your audience what they would like to learn or see. Video tends to fall into two different categories – informational or entertainment. Be sure to know the difference and consider combining the two.
I figured you were wondering this whole time why kittens would be important for video. The truth of the matter is kittens is a way to remember the background of your video. One time I was filming and a cat walked onto set and below the camera. I had to eject the cat from set for fear of ruining the audio. If there are animals in the background or other sound sources that are controllable, remove them.
Kittens, phones ringing and planes flying by are all distractions. If you need to close a door, do it. If you need to record in a different part of the house, do it. By all means, record a great video that is distraction free.

iPhone Videos Can Go Two Ways

It’s up to you to create an amazing video. Using the resources mentioned above and following the SLICK mantra is a great start.
If you’re looking for a video editor that can work magic on your iPhone videos don’t hesitate to reach out. ZMBmedia works with all shapes and sizes of video. We can turn iPhone videos into movie magic. It’s not ideal, but we’d like to think we’re pretty good at what we do here.


ZMBmedia is a Baltimore videography and livestreaming company based in Owings Mills, MD focused on creating online videos that build people, profit and purpose – from small businesses looking to market their business to new clients to established corporations and non-profits ready to build brand recognition and create social media videos. Contact us to film your next promotional video or conference.

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