You have made you press kit, got your photos done, put out your songs online, but you still haven’t convinced some especially promoters that you are a good performer. That is when you need a music video, but very often, bands can’t afford a professional video director to make a professional video, so how about a mobile phone video, is that possible? Well, technically, it is possible to shoot a good quality video with cell phones since some models now shoot HD, but is it a practical solution? If the target of your video is Youtube and the internet, then that is possible, but do not dream of getting one of these through to TV channels, they have very stringent standards of quality. But that’s okay since many hip hop fans that I know nowadays look for the latest videos online, not on TV.

Before we look at how, let’s make it clear that in film/videography, the camera is just a tool, so it is no substitute for a lack of creativity. You will still need a talented director and an editor to cut up the clips and aesthetically enhance the storytelling.

Now which is the best phone for the job? Well, top of the line by our survey include Nokia N8, Samsung Galaxy SII, I Phone 4S & G and Motorolla Bionic among many others. But without doubt, the most convenient one is the I-Phone because it has so many apps to make the job easier compared to the others.

Now once you get on location, you will realize that mobile phones are not optimal video shooting devices as that is not what they are primarily built for. Below we list the challenges you will face and how to overcome them.

1.    Power- All mobile phones use a lot of power in video mode, so you will need to carry extra batteries or chargers if you’re shooting in a location with electricity.

2.   Camera Control – Most cell phones shoot video in auto mode, so you cannot control the light entering the camera, and as you move the camera from a dark area to a lit one, the image keeps readjusting itself giving you no control over the exposure or focus, therefore making you work look amateurish. I-phone has an app called Filmic Pro that locks the settings of the phone including the focus once a shot is set. There should be similar ones for android too.

3.   Optics – Our mobile phones come with reasonably wide angle lenses, but that’s all we are stuck with. On a video shoot, you will probably need some lens attachments that can give you the look of a variety of camera lenses, from fish eye to telephoto. Photojojo.com offers such lenses for I-phones

4.   Stability – One of the best giveaways for amateur video clips is their shakiness. Pros often use some stabilization to make their videos steady, that’s where the Phoneboat comes in handy. It is a universal attachment that holds a phone, and attaches to a normal tripod using a universal ¼ inch thread found in most cameras. You can read more about it in this LINK.

5.   Moving Shots – Once you have a phoneboat or similar device, you can now use you the same devices used in higher end cameras for moving shots. For that you can either hire them from rental houses, or buy similar devices dedicated to cell phone usage in case you intend to shoot many videos. Some of the devices you’ll need include Glidecams  (for walking/running shots) and sliders, or you can also make a DIY steadycam (as show in the video below) that will work as good as the real thing.


6.   Sound – The sound you record on a music video shoot doesn’t need to be top notch because after all it will be replaced with the studio version of the track. But it does help to have clear sound in the video clip o make the editor’s syncing work easier. If it’s within your budget, get a microphone what can be used with the cell phone like the i-rig, although if budget is a constraint, this is one you might want to pass.

7.   Media storage – The video clips for a 3 minute video could run even an hour before editing. This will fill your memory very fast, so you need to get extra memory cards, a card reader and a laptop to the field so that as you shoot some shots, you can transfer the media on other cards to your laptop/hard disk and later use those cards again. If swapping cards is not an option on phone, then you might want to borrow a friend’s similar model phone so that while dumping the footage/memory of one, you can use the other without wasting time.

8.   Coloring (Grading) – After shooting your footage, to give it a touch of a professional look, you will need to tweak the colors a bit. This is the work of a colorist, but thank God you can do it now if you have an I-phone. Movie Looks by Red Giant will work for you. It is extremely easy to use.

9.   Special effects – Similarly, there are numerous special effects apps available for both androids and I-Phones. Action Movie FX is one such app for I Phones.

10. Last but not least, comes the editing, and you are luck because both Windows and Mac come with video editing software Movie Maker and I-Movie respectively.  You can also do basic editing on the new Youtube tools, and then sync the video with the mastered version of your song, and there you have it, a video shot entirely on a cell phone

And remember, you can always improvise most of the equipment except the lens attachments of course if you don't want to spend. For example, you could use a skateboard as a slider. Do you have any other interesting tips for cell phone videos?  do let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (6)


  1. Rex says:

    Really cool article, but I guess many artists are too lazy to bother with all these processes

  2. V-raaj says:

    I have I phone, but I wish the writer would agree to direct the video for me : P

  3. Gladis says:

    Thank you for these tips, these are really useful to those who love filming. Just make sure that the cell phone case does not interfere with the video-making. There are cheap cell phone cases available for this purpose online or in mobile phone stores.

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