Smartphone Filmmaking Advice from SDCC and No Film School

Machelle Noel from GeekRockTV offered tips for shooting on your cell.

It's been a creed of No Film School for years—your gear doesn't always matter. If you have the creativity and the drive, go out and shoot something, even if it's on your iPhone (and with the iPhone 13's Cinematic Mode, you've got a capable little camera in your pocket).

That's why we were happy to drop by Machelle Noel's panel on smartphone filmmaking at this year's Comic-Con Special Edition.

Noel offered a few basic pointers for getting creative and some opportunities with mobile shooting, including pointing audience members to the International Mobile Film Festival, which takes place right here in San Diego. This is a unique jumping-off point for mobile filmmakers looking for a platform to screen their content.

She also recommended that aspiring filmmakers check out SPT Podcast Mobile Filmmaking, which is hosted by Susy Botello.

Noel screened a Spanish short film, Captain Justice’s Last Ride, shot almost entirely in a subway system on phones. It featured a superhero and supervillain, both of whom had lost their powers—a conceit that allowed for grounded action and plenty of comedy. So your ideas can still be big, and you can still shoot them run-and-gun on your phones!

Noel stressed the need for stabilized footage and recommended either a tripod or gimbal to avoid shaky footage.

We at No Film School also know the importance of a good gimbal. We've got a whole gear guide for the best, but be sure to check out some recent looks at this year's newest gimbals and stabilizers:

And if you need help mastering gimbal shots and movement, we can cover that, too! Make sure you know these gimbal terms, how to do a gimbal handoff, and gimbal transitions. You can also opt to make your own

If you choose a tripod, here are creative tripod shots to try.

If you don't have any fancy tools, you can still stabilize your shots. (Yes, even handheld!)

Admittedly, many of the audience's questions in the panel were of a technical nature, like how to capture the best sound and to achieve white balance on cell footage.

"I just go for whatever’s cheap and affordable," Noel answered.

Which unfortunately probably isn't the most helpful guidance for aspiring filmmakers! But don't worry, we've got some more specific tips for you.

We at No Film School agree that sound is very important when shooting anything. We love the RØDE AI-Micro, but there are a whole host of mics made for phones you can check out here. You should also read through these tips for getting the best audio out of your phone.

We'd also recommend looking at our coverage of FiLMiC Pro, an app made to give you greater control over the cameras on iOS and Android phones. The app just released support for iPhone 13, so it's at the top of the game in mobile filmmaking.

Noel also reminded the audience that action cameras are a great alternative to smartphones, and are usually affordable and willing to take a beating.

What are your tips for smartphone filmmaking? Leave them in the comments!     

Check out more coverage from Comic-Con Special Edition, presented by Blackmagic.

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