Your phone is the most important piece of equipment that you have however a few affordable items can really help to get the most out of it. Here are items that I use all of the time with explanations about why I use each one and links to purchase them on Amazon.co.uk.
However, if you’re near Cork, I would highly recommend that you visit Barker Photographic or if you’re near Dublin, then try Conns Cameras. Both stores stock amazing mobile video equipment and will be able to give you invaluable advice to suit your own requirements.
The first and most important piece of equipment that I recommend you to invest in is a microphone. Studies show that sound quality is more important that video quality to your audiences enjoyment and retention rates. And so a good quality microphone is a must have. RODE mics are used to capture TV and Film sound so I was really delighted when they released the Rode Smart Lav+. And while the sound is excellent and the design is neat, the length of the cable (45.5″ / 115.6 cm / a little over a meter) is too often too short for nice interview. However there is a solution…
The Rode SC1 Cable is an extension cable for the Smart Lav+. I don’t love having to carry around an extra bit of kit and it’s too long so I often spend a couple of minutes untangling it when I’m putting the mic on myself or someone else. But it’s a must-have, it’s solid and it will give you more flexibility for example if you’re filming someone speaking from a podium and need to run the cable a few meters but still get great sound.
Unless you’re using Filmic Pro or another filming app that allows you to monitor sound while you’re recording, this adaptor won’t be much use to you as most camera apps don’t support this function. However with Filmic Pro, this little adapter can be your best friend. You can plug in two microphones and one set of headphones so while you’re filming you can listen and monitor your sound while recording. So if there’s any audio interference such as airplanes flying overhead or tapping on the microphone, you’ll be able to. stop recording , fix the issue and start filming again. This can save you a lot of headaches in the end.
Stabilisation is pivotal to making your videos look more professional and a table top tripod is portable and affordable. However you can’t adjust the height and will still need to put some books underneath it to get your shot at the right level. The clamp expands to fit larger phones including the iPhone 11Max and you can easily change it from landscape, or horizontal video, to portrait.
The monopole is the perfect combination of a monopod (a one-legged tripod) and an adjustable pole. It’s really light, you can fit in your bag and you can also extend it’s height to your shoulder. While your shot won’t be tripod steady it will be remarkably close and I find that the small movements from side to side can even add to interviews. The best part of the monopole is that you can use untwist the phone-clamp on the Table Top Tripod above and then twist it to the top of the monopole. Where it falls short is its height. It won’t extend to most peoples eye-line if they’re standing so when you’re presenting to camera or filming interviews you might need to find something a few feet high to rest it on like a bench or a foot path.
Gimbals are great for filming steady walking shots. time lapses and panoramas but where I get the most use out of them is for perfectly timed pans e.g. to show from one side of a room to another, and tilts e.g. from a building entrance right up to the top floor. It’s actually really difficult to get a nice pan or tilt with even the most expensive tripods because the speed needs to be smooth and constant. Gimbals move mechanically so the results are professional and much quicker to achieve. I rarely film myself presenting or pieces to camera using a gimbal because I can’t plug in my microphone due to their current design. The Vimble 2 is perfect because it’s light, durable and affordable. It has a built in telescopic pole so I can get great shots from a height. It also comes with a nice case including a tripod that you can screw into the bottom. If you want to go next level you can attach the monopole and with a bit of practice you can make it look like you’re using a drone.
Carrying around lights and getting access to a power source can really put pressure on the filming stage. These days I’m happy once I have a light reflector in my pack. You would be surprise at how much natural sun you can bounce off the sun onto your self or another person especially using the gold and silver sides of this reflector. I often use the sun light to eliminate on side of a face and the reflector to eliminate the other and the results are awesome. When folded out the 32 inch reflector almost reaches my hip and when closed down it will neatly fit under my arm. It’s really light and fits into most cabin bag size cases. If you don’t want to invest in lights, then I would highly recommend one of these so that you can customise how your shots look. And practice folding it up a few times before doing it in public as there is a nack to it.
I’m new to ring lights but I’m loving how it looks. It has a nice even light so it brings out your best when presenting to camera and the reflection of the light puts a white circle around the pupil of your eye which is a cool and engaging effect. There is a clamp to place your phone in the centre of the ring and the tripod is adjustable so it’s easy to get the lens to the height of your eye (eyeline). You can also attach it to a monopole – but I haven’t needed to try this yet. It’s USB operated so if you already have a battery pack you will be able to use it anywhere. Alternatively, you can plug it into a laptop, desktop or USB plug.