Filming with a smartphone
Smartphone technology is constantly improving and it is more and more common for people to film decent content on their phones.
Make sure you have enough memory to film, bring lots of microSD cards with you. Before you start filming, it may be a good idea to set your phone to aeroplane mode. This will ensure that your filming is not interrupted by calls or notifications.
Make sure you film landscape. If we see any portrait shots you will be in big trouble. Television sets and computer screens are both horizontal, so filming vertical is just wrong.
Generally, zooms are not very good on phones, if you need to get closer to something, it is best to move closer. Filming close to your subject makes the image clearer.
When using a small camera, shakiness is even more noticeable, so do your best to steady the phone either by pulling your elbows to your sides or placing the phone on a steady object.
Due to their small lenses and sensors, correct lighting is important when filming with a smartphone. Make sure what you film is brightly lit areas to avoid grain but also avoid direct light in the camera as it can cause over-exposure. Setting the focus by tapping on your subject on screen will allow the camera to know the focus point, and so the exposure will adjust with any changing light.
Audio on a smartphone can potentially be okay if you are in a quiet environment. A good tip if you are using a phone to record an interview is to get your subject to wear some phone headphones as a lapel mic. This way you will pick up better sound as the microphone will be much closer to them.
Filming with a GoPro
GoPros or other action cameras are really popular on our adventures as they are small, and have good protection against the elements. Although they are easy to use, it is still important to be thoughtful when you shoot and consider the following things:
GoPros already have a very wide angle lenses so it is best to set their field of vision to medium instead of wide. When you are filming using these types of cameras be wary of the fisheye effect they create, it may mean you need to frame your shots differently.
Because the cameras are so small, the shots can be very shaky, so it is often good to use a mount such as the stick as it can help create smoother shots.
The internal microphones of any cameras generally aren’t great. If you have to record dialogue on your GoPro/ action camera record in a quiet, sheltered place, take it out of it’s protective housing and hold it fairly close to your subject. Ideally, you would use an external microphone, you can get pretty cheap external microphones for GoPro which record much better sound. Lapel mics in particular are great for recording interviews. With any microphone just make sure it is sheltered from the wind and is close to your subject if recording dialogue. It is best to check your microphone beforehand to make sure it all works correctly.
The housing for the GoPro is great for our adventures, but when it is safe to do so, take the camera out of it’s case. You will record crisper footage and it will pick up audio.
Test it out beforehand, but generally GoPros aren’t great in low light. If you’re filming at night it might be be best to use lights or film on your mobile phone instead.
Because GoPros are so portable, it is common for people to put them in their pockets and get fingerprints on them. Make sure you clean your lens regularly to avoid blurry images.
With any camera you use, it is always important to practice with it beforehand, this way you will get to know the limitations of your kit.