This week I set an uncomfortable goal; I tested my ability to shoot professional videos using the iPhone.
My conclusion? Yes. I can, with some caveats. I needed some extra tools to get the best results. Specifically, a lapel mic to pick up broadcast quality audio, and a desk tripod to stabilise the camera for interviews. I also used a selfie stick in the field to reduce 'shudder' and an app called FilmicPro for some of the shots, to give me more control of light.
Sound complex? It's not really. Let me go through it now in more detail.
The lapel mic
The lapel mic I use is a RODE SmartLav specifically designed to bring broadcast quality audio to the iPhone. It plugs into the headphone jack of your iPhone and you clip it on to your lapel. You can see the difference it makes here. It is not the only product of its type on the market, but it is the most popular. My only complaint is the length of its cord. You can't get a lot of distance between the interview subject and the iPhone.
The desk tripod
There are lots of these on the market, but I chose the highly adaptable GorillaPod from Joby. It has magnetic bases on flexible legs, so it will grip to surfaces and wrap around other objects. Great for situations where you want to get a stable shot from an odd perspective. That said, it is harder than a 'traditional' tripod to level up, and the one I got isn't tall enough to get a good eyeline. My next investment will be a lightweight, more traditional tripod for interview situations.
The selfie stick
OK, we all know about these. But they are not just for narcissists, they also come in handy if you want a high shoot, say over a crowd, or a tracking shot from an unusual angle.
My Linkedin contact Sandy Antipas gave me a good tip about tracking shots, use a weight with the phone to stabilise your hand. He gave the example of filling a plastic bag with sand at the beach to add the stability. Smart.
You know how you can change the setting on your DSLR from 'auto' to 'manual' giving you greater control over exposure, focus and so on? FilmicPro does a similar thing.
It is the app Indie filmmakers are using on their iPhone only projects to great effect, so I recommend it's worth checking it out
In summary it turns out you can make professional videos using your iPhone. But you do need add ons to get quality shots and quality audio. You also need a good understanding of how to shoot sequences to tell a story with your pictures.
Really, I just scratched the surface with my little experiment this week. But as I learn more I'll continue to share it with you here.