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Mountain Sledder Magazine | June 24, 2017

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Better video from your Iphone

Get better video from your iPhone

| On 29, Nov 2016

Just about everyone these days is sporting an iPhone or other smartphone in their pocket.

The video capability of today’s iPhone technology is incredible. Did you know that you can capture 4K resolution with your Iphone 7? Or shoot Full HD at 60 frames per second? And the camera comes with built-in stabilization? Unbelievable.

But if that sounds like gobbledygook to you, don’t worry. You don’t have to understand that latest tech specs to know that with a few tips you can get great footage.

 

Use a tripod

A shaky shot just screams poor quality. It’s one of the first things a viewer will notice about a video, and it can really lessen the impact of the content. You can capture the most amazing action, but if it’s too shaky your viewer will lose interest fast. There are plenty of lightweight smartphone tripod options on on the market today. Some even allow pan and tilt actions, such as the Grip Tight by Joby.

 

 

There are many portable smartphone tripod options out there including the Grip Tight GorillaPod Video from Joby.

There are many portable smartphone tripod options out there including the Grip Tight GorillaPod Video from Joby.

 

 

Handheld stabilization

Sometimes working off a tripod is just not possible or you just don’t want to pack one around all day. Also, they don’t allow any movement while shooting, and that is often necessary when shooting your pal shredding through some tight trees. Enter the handheld camera stabilizer. These lightweight devices help control camera shake by incorporating gimbals and counterweight mechanisms into their design. Like tripods, there are many variations of these products out there, and some are better than others. The Smoothee is just one of these, but it’s made by Steadicam—a brand that is used and trusted by the motion picture and television industries.

 

Camera stabilization products by Steadicam are used all throughout Hollywood.

Camera stabilization products by Steadicam are used all throughout Hollywood.

 

If buying and packing a camera stabilization device isn’t your thing, you can still minimize shake by remembering to hold the camera close to your body, avoid jerky movements and support your elbows on something solid like a tree or your sled when possible.

 

 

Make good use of light

Despite all the technical goodness stuffed into your smartphone, the fact remains that they are a compact device, and that results in some inherent limitations. The camera sensor size being one of those.

The sensor used in smartphones is tiny, and it can only absorb so much light, so we need to make the most of what’s around us. These cameras work best in bright conditions.

Your results will be best on a sunny day. Try to capture your footage in direct sun, as opposed to, say, deep in a shadowy ravine. For ultimate colour rendition, contrast and a sharp image, position yourself so that the sun is shining from behind you, over your shoulder.

If you’re using your camera after dark or indoors, you’ll want to supplement your light somehow or else you’ll end up with grainy footage. You can go so far as to buy some video specific light panels such as the Genaray SpectroLED light panel, but most sledders won’t want to go that far. But you can use any other light source you might have kicking around, such as a trouble light or work light stand. Place your light in front and to the side of your subject for good depth. And remember that you can always use whatever natural light is available for free.

 

You can take your footage to another level with some dedicated light panels.

You can take your footage to another level with some dedicated light panels.

 

 

 

Audio

Another weakness of smartphone video capture technology is the microphone. It’s designed to optimally work very close to the sound source, like when you’re talking on your phone. When you’re shooting video on your phone, it’s not going to be that close to the subject. So what are the options for better audio?

Well, you can shoot in close to your subject if you’re making a static shot, but that doesn’t work well for action shots. One option is to buy a microphone and an adapter cord that will allow you to record audio directly to your phone. If you really demand high quality audio, that’s the only way to go. Another option is to place a second device (say, your friend’s phone) near the subject and record a voice memo, then sync the audio tracks up in your editing software later.

Neither option is incredibly practical. But in any case what you can do to get the best audio possible is to make sure that there is no background noise such as other sleds running, friends talking or other distracting noise.

 

Okay, now that you’re armed with some tips to get better footage, get out there and start shooting!

 

— MS

 

 

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