Ambient lighting! Smartphone camera! Action!
Well, it does quite have the same ring to it as “Lights, Camera, Action”, but it’s a good description of the types of production that you will likely use with your smartphone. Smartphones have democratized video production with easy and professional equipment that has simplified the filming process, much the way the wave of DSLR cameras have done in the past decade. Although not as comprehensive as DSLRs, cell phone cameras have come a long way in the past decade as well, going from grainy, dark and small video videos to the high definition cameras with variable lenses, apps and settings that can improve your filmed image.
Cell phones have come so far that feature films have been made on them, such as Sean Baker’s 2015 film Tangerine, which was shot on an iPhone 5s using an app called FiLMiC Pro. Baker later went on to make The Florida Project with Willem Dafoe.
Above is a behind-the-scenes look at the indie film Tangerine.
Now, while a feature film requires professionals with other equipment and additional time and software to edit and colour grade the film, there is still plenty that can be done with cell phones for filming. So here we go!
Smartphone Filming and Editing Exercise: Storytelling Through Moving Images
Here’s an outline of the video session:
Introduction, Film Theory and Best Practices (30 minutes)
Pre-Production (20 minutes)
- Get into groups and alter the script. Change the pre-written scripts as desired for the next part of the story.
- Create storyboards out of the script. Each line should go into a different shot. Make sure that you have at least 4 shots in total, using each of a Close-up, a Medium shot and a Wide shot, plus at least one additional shot of your choice.
- Choose your Shooting locations. You may use Robert Brown 7100, the classroom next door at 7101, the open areas around the 7100, and the outdoor area infront of Halpern Centre. Look for available lighting in your locations to light your subject, as well as the general noise level and potential for interruptions.
Production (60 minutes)
- Choose your Production roles. You will need at least one camera operator and one performer on camera for each group. You may switch back and forth, or each of you may have dedicated roles. Don’t worry – we’re not looking for Oscar-worthy performances, we’re looking for the technical aspects and building a story. The lines do not even need to be acted out, but merely delivered as a narrator telling a story, one line (and one shot) at a time.
- Set up your equipment and shots. Using the cell phone, a tripod/handheld mount (optional) and lavaliere mic, set up your shots using the Rule of Thirds and various types of framing. Test your audio with the levels before you record your scenes (Note the Cinema FV-5 needs to be recording to test the levels).
- Film your script. Make sure that you have one shot each of a:
- Medium shot
- Wide shot,
- at least one additional shot of your choice
Break (10 minutes)
Post-Production (60 minutes)
- Import your shots into Camtasia using the app Fuse.
- Edit your video together in Camtasia. Your video should contain the following:
- Opening Title
- at least 4 sequential shots that tell your story
- at least 1 Transition
- Fade to Black
- Export your video.
And in the end, we’ll have a short film masterpieces with a beginning, a middle and an end that fits into the larger transmedia story, 50 Minutes to Joy, utilizing the basic principles of filming.