12 steps to make your smartphone video cinematic and professional

Screen Shot 2018 05 17 at 2.48.54 PM

In the past, making a video look like professional footage was a very hard thing to do. You needed a very expensive camera and complicated software, but nowadays everyone can do it and even with your smartphone. Here is my latest video shot at the beach and read below for my 12 step-technique to make better and more professional looking videos.

12 step-technique to make more professional looking videos.

  1. You will need at least a recent smartphone that is able to record 4K videos (I use an IPhone X).
  2. Buy and download the application FiLMic PRO with the cinematic add-on to able to record LOG files. (extra $10)
    LOG files are flat video with low saturation and low contrast that they will give you more control of the color grading in post-production. It’s like shooting raw for photos and edit them in Lightroom. 
  3. Set your video recording setting to 24fps and possibly at 1/48 shutter speed.
    This is a rule that will make your movie more cinematic. However, for shooting a 1/48 of a second you will need some ND Filters otherwise the scene it will be too bright to be shot at this shutter speed.
  4. Shoot using the back camera (not the selfie camera) of your phone because it has better lens and quality.
  5. Use Graduated ND Filter or Polarize Filter to make the sky look more intense.
  6. Use a wide lens to shoot more of the scene. I use an 18mm wide lens from Moments (there is a 10% discount for new purchases)
  7. Use a Gimbal to stabilize your video if you are walking or riding a bike. I used DJI OSMO Mobile 2 Gimbal but I tested also the Zhiyun Smooth Q Gimbal. In the end, I decided for the DJI OSMO because it’s more compatible with FiLMic Pro App.
  8. Bring your footage into Final Cut Pro and adjust the saturation and contrast of the video.
  9. Find usable music without copyrights. The easiest way where find free music is look on your YouTube channel in the Create section. There you can find thousands of free tracks ready to use. Alternatively, you can buy them on ThemeForest.net (make sure to check them out since there is a free track to download every month)
  10. After you find the music track, cut your footage and try to sync the scene with the music beat.
  11. Add final touches like adding a LUT (lookup tables) and letterbox on your movie.
    LUTs are color filters that will adjust the look of your video to make it more cinematic. You can download LUT files to make your video greenish as The Matrix or bluish as The Revenant movie.
    Letterbox is an easier way to make your video look like a movie adding the black bars above and below your movie. This is the format the Hollywood filmmakers use because they use a special anamorphic lens that gives that look, but we can easily imitate it with Final Cut Pro. 
  12. That’s it! Export to highest resolution and share on YouTube!

Mirko Bonet is the lead website designer and programmer at Fisher Design

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