Get More Cinematic Shots From Your iPhone, No Extra Gear Needed

When you look at Apple’s “Shot on iPhone” videos, oftentimes what’s left unsaid is the amount of extra gear beyond the iPhone the cinematographers had to use. Whether that’s expensive drones, camera stabilizers, or underwater gear, chances are, if it’s on Apple’s website, it’s not only shot with an iPhone.

But what can you do exactly, with just an iPhone to make the video look cinematic? YouTuber Steve Wright, of Learn Online Video, talks about the possibilities and the limitations of using a naked iPhone and no other devices to produce video. It’s a good list of ideas for those without access to thousands of dollars worth of ancillary gear who still want to produce interesting video.

One of the key takeaways from his video is to make extensive use of your phone’s slow-motion mode. By shooting in 120 or 240 frames per second, small shakes of the hand and uneven movement are smoothed out and take on a look that’s more interesting than what ordinary frame rates, such as 24p or 30p, can produce.

In building out sequences, Wright highlights the value of the wide-angle lenses on newer iPhones, pointing out that they are able to set the scene better than a standard lens that captures a narrower field of view. Shooting with a variety of shots — wide, medium, and tight, is key to producing good sequences.

Also, key to producing good sequences is giving viewers angles that they wouldn’t ordinarily see, and to this Wright adds camera movements that you don’t ordinarily see. At one point, he points his camera up through the canopy of the trees, and the viewer gets a look at what they would see if they were lying on the ground. The slight rotation using slow-motion enhances the shot to give it that “cinematic” look.

Wright goes on to talk about hand-held dolly shots and shows you how to lock the exposure and focus on your phone when attempting these techniques. Again, it all makes for very smooth and interesting footage.

Many of the techniques that Wright shares wouldn’t work with subjects such as humans or where motion is clearly an integral part of the image, such as cars driving in the street. However, in the case of something simple, like a walk in the woods as he attempts here, using some of these techniques are an easy way to produce something beyond the expected. It’s a fun little experiment when the ultimate goal is to produce some eye-candy.

Do you have some go-to video tips for cell-phone shooting? Leave them in the comments below.

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