7 TOOLS YOU NEED TO CREATE SMARTPHONE VIDEOS

RECOMMENDED ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT FOR MAKING GREAT MOBILE PHONE VIDEOS WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK – updated August 2018

Since I began my Mobile Video Made Easy workshops, I have tried out a range of equipment to maximise the quality of video recordings. We can spend a fortune on equipment – and some people do!  It’s safe to say that the more you spend, the better the quality, but we don’t all have unlimited or company budgets.

Probably because I am a small company and want to offer the best value-for-money for my clients, I recommend the best priced, best quality and most essential equipment as follows:

  1. SELFIE STICK  If you only buy one piece of kit, buy a selfie stick with a universal smartphone clamp on it. This will enable you to take your phone out of your hand, and get a steadier shot, using your shoulder or just below your shoulder to stabilise it with the stick. Ideal for action shots, recording yourself or recording an interview on the go. You can buy one of the cheapest in the Tiger shops for around 6 euros or less, and they fold up small for carrying around easily. Or try  here in www.argos.ie for a slightly better one. Both of these have a Bluetooth enabled remote button, but don’t rely on it. I’ve found that it doesn’t always work in the video mode. Despite that, they’re very useful and can be folded up to fit neatly into a handbag or briefcase. The spring mount on top works on both the bigger and smaller phones, which is useful.
  2. SMARTPHONE CLAMP. If you already have a tripod or monopod, and want to adapt it to attach a smartphone, then get this one made by Manfrotto. A very useful clamp that can be attached to larger tripods, and this Manfrotto one is very robust. It’s spring-mounted.
  3. MONOPOD. If you want a more professional and tougher-lasting selfie stick than the Tiger Shop or Argos versions, we recommend getting the Manfrotto monopod to attach the clamp to… very useful for high shots, or when you are out on location and need something smaller than a tripod. Professional photographers use monopods all the time and you can see why – versatile, portable and useful especially when recording outside.
  4. HAND-SIZED TRIPOD STAND. This is a very useful piece of kit, and when I first discovered it, I found it really improved the steadiness of my recordings, as I was able to leave it on books, tables, etc, and get a good hands-free eye level recording of interviews or pieces-to-camera. So the Manfrotto mini tripod with universal smartphone clamp is the one we use in training and when we’re recording. It’s quite a small tripod stand, spring-mounted, and  fits all but the really big most phones. It’s got a nice feel, and is very robust.  Particularly useful if you don’t want a Go-Pro investment.
  5. FLOOR-HEIGHT TRIPOD  The standard tripod  that every photographer uses comes in a range of sizes and prices. I have used the Manfrotto Compact Action for some time now, with the additional mount (no 2 above) attached to the plate. I like that it’s light as well as robust. And also it as a good height for recording interviews with tall people, enables hands-free recording, and gives you a perfectly steady shot. Especially good if you’re doing a lot of interviews, or vlogging. You can add the monopod to the plate to give you a very high shot.
  6. MICROPHONE.  I recommend buying a microphone to attach to your phone, which makes an enormous difference to the quality of your sound. We use a lavalier or clip-on mic, which comes with a small windshield attached, the Rode Smartlav Plus with SC1 extenstion lead. Up to the arrival of the iPhone 7, you could attach a clip on mic via your headphone jack. If you buy the Iphone 6 upwards, which has an amazing camera facility, you will have to use the attachment to ensure you have a headphone jack. Works with the Android models (most of them) as well.  I use, and recommend the Rode Smartlav Plus clip on mic, for smartphones, with the SC1 extension lead.
  7. AND MORE…. We have our own Shoulderpod equipment that we occasionally use when we want to add lights and stuff. See www.shoulderpod.com for more. Quite a lot of the professional mobile journalists use it, but it is pricey and we find that while the quality is lovely, it takes a fair bit of time to assemble when you want to use the full kit.  Its G1 clamp is very robust and works with all phones, and we do use it occasionally.

HOW MUCH WILL THIS COST ME?

A tripod costs around €50 for a decent one; the Rode Smartlav Plus and Extension lead is around 60 euros, and the Tiger Shop selfie stick will set you back about 5 euros.

WHERE CAN YOU PURCHASE THIS EQUIPMENT?

We use Big Bear Sound in Newmarket Square in Dublin 8. Ask for Michael Browne. They’re here.

If you want to get more tips about recording video, take a look at our free tips on our YouTube channel – VideoTraining TV.

There’s also Amazon.co.uk, but we’re old-fashioned about buying from real Irish-based businesses if at all possible.

Another good supplier we recommend for audio equipment in particular is The Audio Warehouse, in Raheny in Dublin. Ask for John Byrne and he sells online here at www.audiowarehouse.ie

If you want to get more tips about recording video, take a look at our free tips on our YouTube channel – VideoTraining TV.

We run regular training workshops on mobile video for journalists, digital marketing professionals and communications professionals.

Check out our training page www.aileenomeara.ie/training for more.