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Hacks for Taking Video with a Smartphone

July 23, 2019
  • 4,758
  • 6 min

When it comes to filming, is there anything more convenient than a smartphone? No matter how fancy professional cameras can be, your phone is what you always carry around. It’s small, it’s light, it’s easy to handle. What’s more, the quality of smartphone cameras has improved significantly in the last few years. 

Bonus point? You don’t need to buy a whole lot of professional equipment to turn yourself into a mobile videographer. Your filming tools are all around – here is a whole list of life hacks to make your phone videos stand out. 

1. Selfie Stick as Stabilizer

Probably cheapest, lightest and most compact stabilizer you can get. All you need to do is attach your phone to the stick, turn on your rear camera (unless you are opting for a selfie shot) and place the handle on your shoulder. You’ll have your smartphone floating in front of you. This lifehack works equally well for static and dynamic shots. 

2. Clay Phone Stand

It’s high time you acquired the habit of carrying a piece of clay around with you. Use this simple item to fix your phone to literally any horizontal surface. Moreover, you can easily adjust the angle for your shot. Any kind of clay will do, as long as it doesn’t leave your device dirty. 

3. Paper or Plastic Cup

No clay? No problem. Pop into your nearest takeaway coffee spot and grab a paper cup (plastic would do, too – make sure you recycle!). Cut it from both sides and insert your device, Your paper cup phone stand is now ready. 

4. Fidget Spinner Re-Purposed

Remember when fidget spinners were a thing? It’s time to dig yours out or get a new one. Use a piece of clay or other adhesive material to set your phone on the rotating part. Now your camera can shoot a 360-degree panorama. 

Do you want to edit video on your phone?

Download Movavi Clips for IOS

Download Movavi Clips for Android

5. Towel Slider

You don’t need to purchase an expensive camera dolly to deliver smooth horizontal camera movement. Make a phone stand using any of the life hacks above. Place the stand on a towel (do we need to say it should be laid out on a smooth horizontal surface?). If the shot needs to be set a little bit higher, elevate the phone stand by placing a few books underneath it. Slowly pull on the end of your towel. Now your camera can slide smoothly wherever you want it to go. 

6. Office Chair Slider

Need to capture more expansive movement? Fix your phone to the back of a wheeled office chair. Don’t move it around with your hands – tie a rope and pull it instead. This way, your smartphone’s movement is more stable. This DIY stabilization system can follow your object along corridors or capture an entire panorama. 

7. Skateboard for Outdoor Sets

An ordinary skateboard is another simple and accessible camera dolly replacement, but you will need to be on a flawlessly smooth surface – unless you don’t mind the shaking you get from the wheels. Attach a rope to your skateboard and pull on it slowly. You can actually capture a whole journey with this technique. 

8. Tape Is the Answer

Whatever you’re filming, you can always get new angles with just a simple strip of tape. Use it to stick your phone to various surfaces – it’s especially helpful for vertical ones. Try placing it on a door or a window to capture everything that’s going on inside a room. Or put it inside a fridge. Or even on your car wheel (but double-check to ensure your tape has secured the device well enough!). 

9. Tape Filter

Here’s another way to get the most out of transparent adhesive tape. Stick a small piece over your camera lens and color it with a marker of your choice. This trick creates an unusual filter effect that you would otherwise normally apply during post-production. 

10. Colored Flash

The same hack works with your smartphone camera flash. Because of its cold light, smartphone camera flashes quite often give skin tones an unhealthy bluish look. Cover the flash with a small piece of transparent tape and color it with a warmer shade. Now your flashlit shots will look more natural.

11. Sunglasses Filter

Try filming through the lens of your sunglasses for an instant filter on your shot. As a bonus, it will normalize your exposure in an overly sunny location. Try experimenting by spraying some water on your glasses to add texture. 

12. Binoculars Instead of Optical Zoom

Using the internal zoom on your phone camera is one of the most effective ways to destroy the quality of your video. If there is no way you can get closer to the subject of your shoot, try filming through binoculars. Make sure you clean all the lenses in advance. 

13. Phone Fall

This is an unusual technique for creating a natural cut between two different shots. Start filming while holding your phone horizontally with both hands. Once you’re ready to cut, let go of the side which has a camera on it. Let the phone slide a bit between the fingers of your other hand. The device should now be hanging vertically. There is a small risk of dropping your phone while performing this trick, so make sure you have something soft on the floor in front of you. If you have a reliable protective case, try letting go of your phone completely. While falling, the phone will capture the dynamics, which you can continue in your next shot. The magic is that your next piece of video may have a completely different setting or even an object – it’s the illusion of continuous movement that will naturally glue the shots together. All you’ll have left to do is to work your shots into a sequence using a mobile editing app like Movavi Clips.

14. Sealed Bag for Underwater Filming

Switch on your camera and place the device into a sealed waterproof bag. We wouldn’t suggest diving with it, as a special underwater filming case will do a better job of protecting your phone. But this DIY tool is good enough for a few shots just below the surface. 

15. Water for Macro

Try placing a drop of water on your camera. Now you have a macro lens for filming static objects. Try carefully flipping your phone so that the water drop stays in place (it’s not impossible – keep trying!). Be careful with your front-facing camera: make sure you don’t spill water on the speaker. 

To wrap up, here’s a video from our Vlog in which we test some of the most popular photo and video hacks:

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