https://pds.blog.parliament.uk/2017/05/15/how-to-film-with-an-iphone/

How to film with an iPhone

an iPhone on a tripod ready for filming

As part of Learning at Work Week, we’re doing a series of posts on filming. This first part is about the basics.

Not a consolation camera

iPhone cameras are in no way a consolation camera. Social media campaigns frequently use them, feature length films have been shot on them and there are even some film festivals devoted to the device. Using your iPhone or iPad is a more than adequate way to film events, talks or meetings so that absent colleagues can be kept up to speed.

There are a few tricks which will hugely enhance the footage you get from your iPhone, and make it easier to share with others.

Firstly, choosing your shot. You need to consider framing, lighting and tripods to steady your shot.

Second is sound. This is the most important aspect and one that is often overlooked. People are fairly forgiving of bad image quality but bad sound is impossible to get away with.

Finally, sharing your footage with others. With your iPhone/iPad’s built in editing software iMovie, you can easily manage, edit and share your videos.

Choose your shot

Framing

First of all, you need to set up your phone in a place to film. You want to choose a position that will allow you to leave your phone running for the whole talk without you having to supervise it.

Try to get a wide frame. Ask your speaker whether they will be using any screens and if this information will be vital to understanding the talk. Or perhaps you should just focus on them. Will they move as the talk or will they be sitting down?

You should always use your phone in landscape not portrait. Videos shot in portrait mode often have a more restrictive viewpoint and are harder to watch on other devices.

Light

Luckily, when filming talks or meetings you’re going to have fairly constant light to deal with. The main point to consider here is where the light's coming from.

If you’re in a room with mostly electronic light, the light will be everywhere and your image will look fine. If your light is coming through a window you want to make sure it’s not shining directly into your iPhone camera.

Exposure Lock

Photo demonstrates how to turn on exposure lock

iPhones automatically refocus and re-expose the image as things change within the frame. For example, if you’re filming a talk and your speaker moves, the camera may refocus onto something else making the whole image fuzzy.

If you’re in a room where the light isn’t going to change too much, but your speaker may move around a bit, it’s a good idea to use the Exposure/Auto Focus Lock.

It’s another way to make sure that you can leave your iPhone/iPad filming and be confident that the video recorded will be consistent.

To turn the lock on:

  • go into video mode and press down on the screen for a couple of seconds
  • a yellow box which says AE/AF Lock should appear
  • when this box appears it means the lock is on
  • do the same again to turn off this feature

Sound

Sound is the aspect of iPhone filming that needs the most attention. Once you’ve put your iPhone in a good position for filming, it’s likely that it will be quite far from your speaker and therefore not in a good position to pick up clear sound. This isn’t an iPhone specific issue, any built-in camera microphone would struggle with being on the opposite side of the room.

To solve this issue you could try filming closer to your speaker. You could also attach an iPhone compatible microphone, but this isn’t always possible during a large event.

Alternatively you could get a second recording of audio only. You can later sync the audio with your video to boost the sound. This can be done with a second iPhone positioned closer to the source of sound.

Use a voice recording app, such as the Voice Memo one or download Voice Recorder Pro (free for iPhones). This one lets you export and import from different sources such as iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Office365.

When both iPhones are in position, and your video and audio is recording, clap three times. This gives a visual and audio marker which will help you to sync both pieces of footage later on. Essentially you’re using your hands as a clapper board.

Sharing your footage

Using an editing app allows you to trim the footage down to the parts that you need. This means that your colleagues don’t have to sit through any unnecessary action and it keeps the file size to a minimum.

This is also your opportunity to sync up your video with the separate audio file. First, make sure that both files are saved on your device, perhaps in your iCloud drive. Open up iMovie, start a new project, import your video file and you can trim it down to size.

On an iPad this is particularly easy. Once you’ve imported your video into your project, you can add other media such as images, music and sound.

Screenshot from iMovie of editing audio and visual together

The image above shows the process of syncing video and audio. Here we can see a piece of video, with its audio in blue. The green file is the separate audio track. The three peaks at the beginning of each recording are the three claps (where you used your hands as a clapper board). In this tutorial, we can see that the film-maker needs to drag the green audio so that it lines up with the blue. With a few adjustments, they’ll be able to match these so that the audio is synced.

On an iPad you'll see these waveforms but on an iPhone screen you won’t. Without this extra visual aid, syncing the two may require a bit more trial and error until they are in perfect sync, but it’s still the same process.

Now that your footage is trimmed, synced and ready to go you can export it as a single file and share it with colleagues.

One final tip

Don't forget to put your phone on airplane mode during filming. You don't want your footage to be interrupted with notifications, messages or phone calls.

As with all film-making, giving it a go is really the only way to get to grips with something new. I worked out all of these tips through trial and error and finding out what worked best for me. Practice the entire process on a talk/meeting that doesn’t need to be recorded and decide which methods work for you.

Part 2 of our series will talk about the best techniques for interviewing people.

If you work in Parliament and you'd like help with iPhone filming, get in touch with the Content Team

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