The art of film making has changed significantly over the years. Many filmmakers have decided to leave their DLSR or mirrorless camera at home while switching to their smartphone. It is a good choice since smartphones are efficient, lightweight, and effective. Using your smartphone and the right mobile apps will allow you to create a documentary, horror, or dramatic film that will be sure to captivate your audience.
Last year a few movies sent to Alternative Film/Video festival were filmed entirely with smartphones. To be honest, if that was not mentioned in the introductions of these films, we were not sure if we could realize that these films were not shot using conventional equipment. And although Alternative Film/Video is not one of the festivals specializing in mobile films, we also encourage you to try out new ways of making films like this.
So what do you need to know about using a mobile app to create a short film? Within this short guide, you’ll learn how to make a short film using a mobile app.
Do Your Homework
Before you can create a short film, you need to prepare yourself. You need to do your homework so you can be ready to shoot a great video to keep the viewer’s attention. You need to understand that shooting on a mobile device is going to be much different from using a conventional camera. It is wise to spend time studying mobile films created by hobbyists and amateurs.
By sure to check out these videos on Vimeo and YouTube. You’ll also want to find out where you can shoot your film. When should you shoot the movie? Make sure you choose your location and time so you can get the perfect lighting. That will help you set the mood and get your point across.
Creating A Storyboard
Once you’ve studied successful mobile films and possible shooting locations, you’ll want to create a storyboard. This is immensely important, whether you’re filming with a smartphone or a mirrorless camera. You’ll want to tell a story, so you’ll need a storyboard. Remember that the possibilities are endless.
There are no universal rules, so you can create any kind of storyboard that you can. Just remember that your smartphone has some limits. You’ll need to adapt your techniques to make up for the phone’s shortcomings. Come up with a good storyboard, and you’ll be ready to start filming your short film before you know it.
Use Airplane Mode
When you’re shooting a film on your smartphone, you don’t want to be bothered. You want to be able to shoot the video consistently without getting text messages or phone calls. Thankfully, you can solve this problem by turning on the phone’s airplane mode. Alternatively, you can remove the SIM card.
This will prevent incoming calls from disturbing you while you’re shooting the film. Just remember to put the SIM back once you’ve finished.
Choose An Orientation
Smartphones are versatile so that they can be used in various modes. For instance, you may want to use portrait mode when taking selfies and pictures of others. However, many people think that is not a good idea when shooting movies. If you use portrait mode for your film, you’re going to experience various problems, and your video won’t look right on a computer or television.
If you shoot in vertical mode, you’ll need to rotate it during the editing phase. This will create black bars on the side, and this is known as pillar boxing. To avoid these problems, you should stay in horizontal mode at all times.
This ensures that your video is going to look great on all devices. Simultaneously, you’ll find that it is easier to maintain a grip on the device when holding it this way. While you’ll want to experiment and see what works best for you, most will prefer shooting in horizontal mode.
However, you should also know that there are more and more people watching videos on their phones. And you should remember that mobile users naturally hold their phones vertically. So what will help these users to watch mobile videos more easily? Shoot them vertically.
V2. Escape From Hell, a Hollywood movie, is going to be the first blockbuster made entirely in a vertical format. They are catching the trend, why aren’t you?
Even in the adult film industry, they are embracing this trend. There are 18+ videos created with an aspect ratio of 9:16, just for mobile users. The most popular among them is Snapchat porn (NSFW!).
Therefore, our advice to you? Do not hesitate to try new things.
Experiment With Lighting
Proper lighting can make a big difference for your movie. Experts recommend shooting in bright light. Nevertheless, you should shoot around noon if the contrast is too harsh. If you have to shoot in this situation, you’ll want to use an elevated angle. This will keep the sky out of the frame. Alternatively, you’ll want to think about shooting on a cloudy day. Smartphones have smaller camera sensors.
This means that they will not be able to capture drastic differences in light for one frame. Shooting inside is going to be even tougher. With a smartphone, you’ll run into problems when shooting low light and high light conditions. Using white sheets inside is an excellent way to control the lighting.
Either way, you should experiment and get the perfect lighting setup for each scene of your short film.
Be Careful With Zoom
When shooting on a smartphone, you’ll likely want to take advantage of its features. You may believe that zooming in on the subject is a good idea. This will probably create problems. Smartphones have video stabilization, but it is not perfect. When you’ve zoomed in, the stabilization will be less effective. So, you can guarantee that your video is going to be very shaky and blurry.
So, you should avoid using the digital zoom. If you must get closer to your subject, you should use your feet and move closer. Furthermore, it is essential to move slowly so you can avoid shaking the camera.
Get Everything You Need
Since you’re using a smartphone, your equipment will be very limited. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t film the entire video by hand. Instead, you’ll want to use film-making equipment to enhance your video and audio quality. For instance, you may want to buy a tripod and slider. This is a good way to eliminate shady videos. You’ll also want to enhance your audio quality with a better microphone.
When shooting on a smartphone, you’re going to have two problems. You’ll have limited hard drive space, and your battery will die quickly. You can avoid these issues by transferring the videos to your laptop. You’ll also want to buy a portable power bank. This will allow you to charge the battery when it is getting low. Other things to buy include additional lenses and a flashlight.
Consider your budget and find out what is going to work best for your film.
Eventually, you’ll need to go out there and shoot your film. This is one of the fun aspects of creating a film. However, it is going to be followed by the tedious process of editing the film. Nevertheless, proper editing can make a big difference for any film. You can begin piecing the videos together, adding transitions, and manipulating the videos with various effects.
You will be able to edit your videos on your smartphone or move them to your computer. Editing the video on your computer will give you more options. If you’re interested in creating a completely mobile video, it is best to use mobile apps for this purpose.
The editing process will be time-consuming and extensive. You may find that you’ll need to reshoot certain scenes. Either way, you’ll want to dedicate a lot of time and energy to the project to get the best results.
Find The Apps That Work For You
Some people may be under the impression that a single app will be needed to create a mobile film. However, this is a major misconception. While independent mobile filmmakers wish this were so, an app for different film-making processes is a requirement. Unfortunately, there is no single app that will provide you with all the tools needed to create a mobile film. On the upside, there is a long list of options to choose from. So, your possibilities are endless.
When it comes to mobile film apps, the filmmaker must know his/her skill level. This is so important because some apps are more suitable for professionals, while others not so much. If this is your first mobile film, you will need an app that supports your amateurish film-making skills. And, vice versa, if you have a lot of experience in the industry.
For a mobile film app to be useful, it must feature video effects, background music, texts, voice-over, fading, brightness, subtitles, and audio. If you can find an app with these features, you will be well on your way to creating a piece of art like no other.
Some apps you can use are listed below. You can visit their pages on the App Store by clicking on the link. You can also find most of them on Google Play Store.
Writing a script can be difficult, but editing it will be even tougher. This is why you’ll want to use Scriptation. This app makes it easy to revise your script in seconds. It is suitable for hobbyists and professionals. You’ll appreciate its numerous features since it can be used to read scripts, share notes, highlight certain lines, and mark up documents. If you’re having trouble with your script, using Scriptation is a great way to simplify this problem.
Artemis Pro isn’t free, but it’ll make a difference for your film. With this app, you’ll be able to add your camera sensor and select your lenses. You’ll be able to see your actual field of view too. This will be available on your phone’s scene. Simultaneously, you’ll be able to use Artemis Pro to record video, trim it, and add custom title cards. You can use it to add frame lines and change the appearance of your video. If you like using LUTs to adjust your videos’ color, you’ll want to use this app since it offers a similar feature.
Most filmmakers will edit their films on a computer. With LumaFusion, you won’t need to do that. You can use this professional video editing app to manipulate your video on your smartphone. This app offers six videos and audio tracks. You can experiment with dozens of transitions to add more energy to your video. You can also adjust the audio and play around with various effects. If you want to increase the speed or slow down your videos, you’ll be able to do that. LumaFusion works with 120 and 240 FPS video files as well as timelapse videos.
This app is a must for anyone who wants to edit on their smartphone.
There is no doubt that you’re going to face limitations when using a smartphone. That can be frustrating, but there are a few ways to enhance your phone’s versatility. One way to do that is by downloading the FiLMiC app. Using this app, you’ll be able to manually control your phone’s settings, including focus, exposure, and white balance. You can also take advantage of a variable speed zoom.
The app enables users to choose various frame rates, including 24, 24, 48, or 50 FPS. You can also use 30 or 60 FPS, which is best for US broadcasts. FiLMiC Pro can take your audio to a new level as well.
Most filmmakers use Adobe Premiere Pro to edit their films. The only problem is that this program isn’t available on smartphones. Instead, you’ll want to use the lite version, which is Adobe Premiere Rush. If you’re comfortable with Premiere Pro, you’ll have no problems taking advantage of Premiere Rush. Once you’ve downloaded this app to your phone, you’ll be able to shoot, edit, and share all of your videos on your smartphone. You won’t need to use your computer again.
This fantastic mobile film app is available for Android, making it compatible with Samsung Galaxy Chromebooks and other large-screened tablets. This will give you a much better platform to work on. The app features a variety of video-editing tools, quick filters, and support for slow-motion film-making.
DubScript Screenplay Writer
The DubScript app is ideal for writing screenplays. The app consists of the necessities to create impressive screenplays. It is compatible with Google Docs and Microsoft Word. It also supports cloud printers and outputs PDF file formats and HTML.
Choose The Right Cast
One of the most challenging and important tasks will be creating a cast lineup. You will need to hold an audition or two to find the perfect cast members. If you are lucky, you will already have a few names in mind. This will help put you a step ahead in the process. Otherwise, you will need to hold an audition to find actors and actresses with qualities that are suitable for your film.
A live film audition can take anywhere from one day to several weeks, depending on several factors. One of these factors is accessibility. If you have access to talented actors, you can count yourself lucky. However, you will not know this unless they go through the auditions. So, there is no way to get around an audition.