My father-in-law asked me the other day what the most popular aspect of our work is at the moment. I answered straight away; our smartphone filming course. As you read this, we’ll probably be delivering one of three in-house courses this week for the British Red Cross and Marie Curie, so watch out for on-location tweets!
Our course has proved really popular with the charity sector who need a constant stream of good stories but are often on a tight budget. Filming with a smartphone and a small filming kit provides many with the opportunity to try filming for the first time.
Smartphones are able to record film and sound to a very high quality these days, and are really blurring boundaries and opening up new possibilities for storytelling. But, there’s a bit more to think about when you are filming compared to taking photos.
We strongly believe it’s not all about the kit. There is plenty you can do to improve the quality of your storytelling, filming and editing skills that has nothing to do with the tools you use. However, there is no doubt that having the right equipment will help you get better results. Here we look at some of the items we recommend buying to ensure a top-quality result for under £200. We buy most of our audio kit from a company called Pinknoise and find them really helpful and good value.
Mile 91’s basic smartphone filming kit
We recommend you use a tripod when filming an interview. It will stabilise your camera and give a professional feel to the footage. There is nothing worse that watching an interview and the camera keeps moving.
This is what grips your smartphone and attaches to your tripod. You won’t be able to attach your smartphone to the tripod without one. We like this particular one because it’s small and can fit easily in your pocket, meaning you can always have it with you.
People always ask us about cameras but we’ve never had anyone ask about microphones. Actually audio is quite often more important than the visuals. People are much more forgiving of bad visuals than they are of poor audio. The microphones on smartphones aren’t very good and so we strongly advise a lapel microphone when you are interviewing someone. We recommend you get an extension cable too because the wires on some lapel mics are rather short.
Ideally you want to be able to monitor the sound whilst you are recording. This allows you to listen out for interference that you wouldn’t otherwise hear; if it’s windy, or there is a necklace, or some clothing rubbing on the microphone.
If you are interviewing outside these little beauties can save the day! Wind blowing on a microphone is a really annoying noise and will ruin a good interview. Alternatively, find a sheltered spot out of the wind and you might just get away with it!
We’d love to hear about any other kit you’ve found useful so, please do leave your comments below.