|Michigan State University students make films at a Smart Film School workshop in Berlin|
Equipment to produce good video with a mobile phone.
1) The bare essentials
This is what you need to start making better quality video with your mobile phone.
See how to use these in this short video.
Video sucks a lot of power from your smartphone. I like this powerbank because it lets me charge two devices at the same time, holds a lot of power and is ultra reliable in the field. (I went through a score of cheaper ones until I found this unit.)
Microphones for Android and other special situations
I carry more microphones than anything else, because capturing broadcast quality audio in tough field conditions is challenging.
Here is a great lapel mic from Rode that works on Android and iOS devices. This mic is great for formal interviews.
This stick mic from IK multimedia (Android, iOS) is super because the audio enters the device on the digital side. This is really important as this type of connection improves the quality by lowering the noise floor.
If you already have some pro microphones like shotguns, radio mics or reporter sticks, there are some handy interfaces that will bring your audio in on the digital port of your iPhone or iPad.
Yes, you can produce commercial quality work with an iPhone. These bits are important to getting your audio to that level.
When you want to achieve better quality in harsh lighting and sound locations, you will need a few more items.
This is a close up of my interview rig.
What's in my rig:
- Shoulderpod R1 Go
- Shoulderpod H1 Handle
- Shoulderpod G1 Grip
- Luxpad 22 face light
- Sony battery and charger
- Røde VideoMic Me microphone
- IK Multimedia iKlip case
This gear all neatly wraps around my iPhone 6Plus and is lightweight and super secure in the hands.
Note, that in the exploded gear photo above I also carry the Sennheiser ClipMic Digital lav mic in my kit as well.
My testing shows that sound bites, voice-over and piece-to-camera audio often sounds really professional when it comes into the iPhone on the digital side. Lower noise, better gain control and you can engage a digital limiter with the Senheisser app which prevents clipping.
If you want to go ultra-compact, try the R1 Go with a Manfrotto Lumimuse 6 LED lamp. I don't use small LED lights because I prefer the softer and more natural-looking face lighting I can get with the Luxpad22.
Professional journalists need small, light and durable equipment to be able to record high quality video in the field.
I take a tripod with me, of course. But I may only need the small IK multimedia one for most tasks.
My carbon fiber tripod easily folds down to pack inside a suitcase and can be extended to full height to interview tall people.
Stabile camera shots for mobile filmmaking
I am enjoying using the DJI Osmo camera with the Z-Axis stabilizer to make super high quality shots for not a lot of money.
Have a look at that rig and the shots that result.
Wireless microphone systems
Using a radio mic system is the ultimate hands-free way to record interviews and pieces to camera.
In the videos below are three new systems that support mobile journalism and budget filmmaking with mobile cameras like the Osmo, GoPro, and smartphones.
First up is a Sennheiser
wireless mic system that works with any camera. The pro-level AVX combo set
includes a lav and handheld mic with a tiny receiver. Solid build quality. Built to succeed in the most demanding field conditions.
If all you need to do is connect a mic wirelessly to your iPhone, This low cost Samson wireless mic
set can connect to an iPhone via the USB to lightning adapter. I also show their stick mic kit
in the video below.
Røde makes a wireless mic set called the RødeLink Filmmaker kit that sounds really impressive. It is priced between the Samson and Sennheiser units.
In the video above I compare the Filmmaker kit with two other Røde mics that also use the mini-plug adapter that the DJI Osmo cam accepts. The Osmo is my stable cam for capturing smooth video tracking shots and also interviews, now that I have found some mics that work with it.
In addition to a wireless mic set, I carry a few more items with me for my documentary filmmaking assignments.
All of the gear in the photo above fits into my waterproof backpack.
This pack is light enough for me to use as carry-on luggage and also bicycle across sand dunes and film scenes like this.
Look closely and you will see there are actually two special-purpose rigs in my gear bag.
1) A handheld camera for filming sequences (the DJI Osmo).
2) A rig dedicated for filming interview subjects and reporter stand-ups.
I test a lot of gear for mobile reporting and advise my students on what works and what doesn't.
I wish to thank the makers of Rode Microphones, IK Multimedia, iStabilizer, Shoulderpod, iOgrapher, UniGrip Pro, Moondog Labs, Beastgrip, Sennheiser, Genelec monitors, Neumann microphones, Apogee Electronics, Rollei, Samson, Rotolight, GoPro, Jorg, and Olloclip for their unwavering support as I test their gear in the field.
Full disclosure: My gear links are affiliate links. You won't pay any extra, but referrals help support me.