Smartphones have been pushing the boundaries of filmmaking since their debut back in 2007. Since then, smartphones have constantly improved their camera quality with each release, making the phone’s camera almost as good as any filmmaking camera. 

But there’s a catch.

Unlike most DLSRs, smartphones have a tiny sensor that doesn’t allow for that professional shallow depth of field that gives any video a cinematic quality. Just because smartphones don’t naturally create a shallow depth of field doesn’t mean that we can’t create one through a few tricks. 

Smartphone Filmmaking Pro shows us four ways to create a background that is out of focus using the thing that is in your hands. Some methods work better than others, but the results are always the same: a blurry, shallow depth of field that will elevate your videos. 

1. Use the Cinematic Mode on your iPhone 13

If you are using a phone that has a Cinematic Mode in the stock camera app, then you can easily get a blurry background with minimal effort. Everything is done in software through AI, which means you will be able to go in and change the focus and aperture during post. 

Cinematic Mode is not always perfect. If an object moves too suddenly, the camera will lose focus and break the illusion of a blurry background.

Even with the mode’s limitations, using it on your smartphone is the best and easiest way to achieve that cinematic shot you are looking for without spending too much money. 

2. Use a third-party app 

Not all of us are fortunate enough to get our hands on the latest iPhone to utilize the new Cinematic Mode, but that doesn't mean we can't create a shallow depth of field. Lucky for us, there are apps that we can use to create a great cinematic shot.

Focos Live is a great app that does almost everything that the portrait video mode does on the newest smartphones. The only difference is that you are not able to change anything after you have shot the video since the app is not directly installed into the phone’s software. 

Focos_live_app_on_iphoneFocos Live app on all smartphonesCredit: 9to5mac

3. Get super close

If you don’t want to download another app, then you can use an in-camera trick that will automatically make the background blurry. The closer you get to an object, the more your camera will focus on the object in the frame, blurring out the background. This does limit you in some ways, like if you are shooting a person for an interview or a statement, it is not ideal to get a few inches from their face to blur the background.

This method of achieving a blurred background should only be used to close-up shots of objects.

4. Buy a DOF adapter

A DOF filter, or a depth of field filter, is a filter you screw onto your smartphone. This filter lets you mount other lenses like DSLR lenses onto your smartphone. DOF filters are pretty pricey but could be a great investment as you build your lens stock and save enough to purchase a professional camera.

The downside to purchasing the DOF filter is that you have to remember all of your gear before shooting on your smartphone. This option gives you the most shooting opportunities, but is expensive and requires you to remember all of the parts needed for a day of shooting. 

Dof_adapter_on_iphoneDOF adapter on an iPhoneCredit: Cined

No matter how you decide to achieve your depth of field, keep in mind that you might not get the perfect shot on the first take. Try out the different methods, and practice using that method until you achieve the look you are searching for. Don’t be afraid to try something new, because the results may surprise you.

Do you have any other way you achieve a blurry background on your smartphone? Let us know your tricks in the comments below! 

Source: Smartphone Filmmaking Pro