iPhone Videography & Equipment

To get started shooting video with an iPhone, we strongly recommend you watch (and re-watch) this great Wistia iPhone videography video, which covers video best practices and most of the topics included below.

Best Practices

  • Smartphone Orientation – always record video in landscape/horizontal view. Never shoot video in vertical view unless you are shooting for a specific platform that calls for it, e.g., Instagram Stories or Snapchat.
  • Control Manual Settings – Try to control your video settings when possible verses shooting in full auto mode—focus, exposure, shutter speed, ISO, audio levels, etc. The Filmic Pro app, listed in the equipment section below, is a great tool that offers more manual control over your smartphone video settings.
  • External Microphone – Always use an external microphone whenever possible. Although the microphone on the iPhone will capture audio, it also captures a lot of unnecessary ambient sound if shooting in interior or exterior locations. An external shotgun mic or lavaliere mic will focus the capture of recorded audio. If an external mic is not available, try to record your video as close to your subject as possible (within 3-4 feet is ideal) and choose a quiet location. This is the same when using an external mic—the closer the mic is to the subject, the better the audio quality. Here are some additional audio tips and best practices.
  • Audio – Try to find a relatively quiet location free from distractions, air conditioners, mowers, blowers, buzzing from lights or electronic equipment, etc. If you hear a sudden noise, just stop the interview/video shoot and re-record that part of the video. Always do a test of your audio before capturing you video subjects and listen back with headphones to make sure the audio is of good quality. People may watch a poorly shot video, but if audio quality is poor, hard to hear, or distracting, people are less likely to watch a video.
  • Lighting – choose a well-lit location for you video shoot—one that is not too bright or dark, in direct sun, or filmed directly toward a bright window.
  • Steadying the Camera – To stabilize your video, use a tripod or monopod whenever possible or brace the camera against your body or another object (three points of contact).

Equipment to Consider Purchasing

Here is a list of inexpensive equipment that we use for iPhone-style live shots. B&H is a good source for equipment, but you can also look to Amazon, Adorama and other sites. Depending on what you order, the list below can run you around $150 not including tax or shipping. Free two-day shipping is available through B&H and Amazon Prime.

  1. Filmic Pro for iOS or Android ($15 or $10) – Filmic Pro is used to manually control video and audio settings on smartphones. Training is provided on their website.
  2. Inexpensive tripod ($24) or monopod ($15) – since you are only mounting a smartphone, weight is less of a factor. These are for recording interviews using a monopod or tripod.
  3. Flash/Camera Bracket ($15) – a flash/camera bracket is used to mount phone and Rode mic on tripod/monopod.
  4. Rode VideoMicro ($59) – the Rode VideoMicro is a shotgun mic that is mounted on a bracket via cold shoe mount.
  5. TRS to TRRS Patch Cable ($15) – the patch cable is required to plug the Rode VideoMicro into a smartphone headphone jack. If you don’t have this cable the audio input will not work.
  6. iPhone 7/7S Apple Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter ($9) – the iPhone adapter is only necessary for newer iPhone models without a headphone jack. You should already have one that was provided with your new iPhone.
  7. Smartphone Mount / Holder ($5) – the smartphone mount sits on flash bracket and holds your phone. The less expensive Dollar Store or Walmart version works equally well and sometimes comes with an extendable selfie stick. The selfie stick also provides a more stable platform for shooting hand-held video where you have both hands around the flash/camera bracket and you push the selfie stick against your chest or body to provide three points of contact and help with stabilizing the smartphone camera.

Mobile Video Editing

Basic video editing is available in the Filmic Pro app. On the desktop computer, you can look to programs like iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, or more advanced editing through programs like Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro. Davidson students, faculty and staff have free access to Lynda.com training. Lynda.com is an excellent resource for desktop video editing training.