smartfilming

Exploring the possibilities of video production with smartphones

#57 What is this tiny green/orange dot on your smartphone’s screen? — 23. January 2023

#57 What is this tiny green/orange dot on your smartphone’s screen?

Remember the 3.5mm headphone jack? You know, the port on your phone where you put the cable of your headphones in before Bluetooth headphones became all the rage? Given all the differences between Android phones and iPhones, both in terms of hardware and software, this was, for quite a while, a somewhat unifying factor. For the mobile content creation community this meant that you could use certain external mics (like the original iRig Mic) with both kinds of phones. Then Apple and in its wake many/most others smartphone makers decided to get rid of the headphone jack and rely on a sole physical port for accessory hardware connections: the Lightning port (Apple) or a USB-C port (Android phones). While we’re still waiting for the iPhone to finally give up its proprietary Lightning port and switch to the universal USB-C, I found a little something on the software side that works the same on both mobile platforms. It’s something lots of people might not even be aware of and those who do may not know what it’s actually about. But it’s useful and interesting.

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#56 A brief introduction to Mastodon and what you need to know about photo, video and audio sharing — 23. December 2022

#56 A brief introduction to Mastodon and what you need to know about photo, video and audio sharing

Ever since Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, the world’s most popular place for microblogging and breaking news, became a reality back in November, the decentralized alternative Mastodon has seen an immense influx of new users. The rampage Musk unleashed after taking over the wheel at Twitter has prompted a significant amount of passionate Tweeters to turn their backs on the company – be it in the more radical form of deleting their accounts or a milder version by not posting there anymore (as much as before). The latest of Musk’s escapades happened very recently and involved the banning of a whole range of acclaimed journalists who were in some way connected to an account that dared to share flight data of Musk’s private jet. Mind you, Musk is the person who has been waving the „Free speech“ flag with a big mouth and who re-instated former US president Donald Trump on Twitter after his account had been suspended for inciting violence during the riots at the US Capitol on January 6th 2021. I don’t want to go into details here but suffice it to say, I’m more than worried by how things have developed at Twitter HQ. Twitter has become a worse place. While my account there is still active, I’m seriously considering leaving the platform for good if there is no change in leadership. I’ve created a Mastodon account some weeks ago and it has become my main online communication platform very quickly. While it is in some ways different from Twitter, it’s on a basic level quite similar and, unlike some are claiming, not that complicated either.

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#55 After 7 years of brand loyalty to LG: Why I chose Sony to follow in its footsteps — 12. December 2022

#55 After 7 years of brand loyalty to LG: Why I chose Sony to follow in its footsteps

The first smartphone I ever owned was a Samsung S3 Mini. When I purchased it in 2013 I didn’t really think about the phone’s potential for video production. I just wanted to finally step into the world of touch screen phones with mobile internet, without paying a premium price for an iPhone. It was only after spending some time with the lil’ Samsung that I became more and more interested in seeing the device’s potential for more than just taking calls, browsing the web and snapping some pics. My next phone was, interestingly enough, a Nokia 920 running the Windows Phone operating system. I was very much aware of the sparse app situation on Microsoft’s platform but intrigued by Nokia’s camera hardware (Zeiss lens) and the support for 25fps in the native camera app. Since the WindowsPhone app store didn’t really improve much and it became obvious very soon that the platform was not going to stick around much longer, I kept looking for an Android phone brand that would strike a chord with me.

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#54 Huge rival for LumaFusion on the horizon: DaVinci Resolve is coming to the iPad! — 28. October 2022

#54 Huge rival for LumaFusion on the horizon: DaVinci Resolve is coming to the iPad!

While Australian company Blackmagic Design (BMD) might best be known for its affordable cinema camera line-up (it all started with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera in 2012/13), they have also established a reputation in the realm of video post production. Their color grading software DaVinci Resolve (available for both Windows and MacOS) can be considered a veritable industry standard used by professionals all over the world.

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#53 What’s new and useful in iOS 16? (by Marc Blank-Settle) — 2. October 2022

#53 What’s new and useful in iOS 16? (by Marc Blank-Settle)

Preface

Last year, I hosted for the first time an article on this blog that wasn’t written by myself but by BBC Academy mobile journalism (“MoJo”) trainer Marc Blank-Settle whom I have met on several occassions and keep constantly in touch with via Twitter. His yearly insights into every new iteration of Apple’s mobile operating system iOS from a journalist’s point of view have become a much respected staple of the community so it’s no surprise he’s done it again for iOS 16. If you are an iPhone user, you should definitely dig into this and don’t forget to follow Marc on Twitter for the latest updates or to ask him a question. I’m also using this opportunity to apologize for my own relative silence on this blog in the last months but life’s been extremely busy. Hopefully the near future will allow me again to post more content here. But for today, I’m handing things over to Marc Blank-Settle. – Florian from smartfilming.blog

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#52 How YouTube started p****** me off… — 18. February 2022

#52 How YouTube started p****** me off…

We all love YouTube, it’s become the favorite “TV channel” of many and its value as a communal video archive shouldn’t be underestimated. However, not all that glitters is gold. I’m not talking about the considerable amount of trash content that just wastes your time or even worse, spreads misinformation. No, I’m talking about something else. Fairly recently I noticed something really annoying. First I thought it was some kind of mistake or bug, but no…

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#51 LumaFusion is finally coming to Android and ChromeOS – what can we expect? — 6. December 2021

#51 LumaFusion is finally coming to Android and ChromeOS – what can we expect?

Android has no lack of capable mobile video editing solutions (as can be seen in this earlier article) but there is one app that’s still missing when looking over at the iOS side of things: LumaFusion. All in all, it’s the most advanced video editor across mobile platforms and with its feature set (almost) matching viable desktop NLEs, it’s been a favorite among professionals and enthusiasts – it can even be used with M1 Macs as a desktop software now. So many Android users have been anxiously asking the question: When will LumaFusion make it to Android?

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#50 Anniversary Post: 50 Voices of Phoneography — 15. November 2021

#50 Anniversary Post: 50 Voices of Phoneography

The good thing about numbering your blog posts is that it’s easy to figure out when you have an anniversary coming up… 😉 And now’s the time! To be honest, I wasn’t really sure I would get that far when I started smartfilming.blog in the summer of 2015 with my first articles in German. I had made my initial steps in the blogosphere in 2009 writing about something completely different but discontinued the project two years later when I realized my interest in the topic was fading. Well, I have shown more stamina this time around: 6 years and 50 blog posts! (in case you want to check out an overview of the previous 49 click here) So what to do for this happy occasion?

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#49 What’s new and useful in iOS 15? (by Marc Blank-Settle) — 24. October 2021

#49 What’s new and useful in iOS 15? (by Marc Blank-Settle)

Preface

So far, all the blog posts on smartfilming.blog were written by myself. I’m happy that for the very first time I’m now hosting a guest post here. The article is by Marc Blank-Settle who works for the BBC Academy as a smartphone trainer and is highly regarded as one of the top sources for everything “MoJo” (mobile journalism), particularly when it comes to iPhones and iOS. His yearly round-up of all the new features introduced with the latest version of Apple’s mobile opearting system iOS has become a go-to for journalists and content creators. iOS 15 just came out, so without further ado, I’ll leave you to Marc’s take on the new software for iPhones and don’t forget to follow him on Twitter! – Florian – smartfilming.blog

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#48 Is ProRes video recording coming to the next iPhone and is it a big deal? — 30. August 2021

#48 Is ProRes video recording coming to the next iPhone and is it a big deal?

ProRes logo and iPhone12 Pro Max image: Apple.

One of the things that always surprised me about Apple’s mobile operating system iOS (and now also iPadOS) was the fact that it wasn’t able to work with Apple’s very own professional video codec ProRes. ProRes is a high-quality video codec that gives a lot of flexibility for grading in post and is easy on the hardware while editing. Years ago I purchased the original Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera which can record in ProRes and I was really looking forward to having a very compact mobile video production combo with the BMPCC (that, unlike the later BMPCC 4K/6K was actually pocketable) and an iPad running LumaFusion for editing. But no, iOS/iPadOS didn’t support ProRes on a system level so LumaFusion couldn’t either. What a bummer.

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#47 Videomakers please stop doing this! — 30. July 2021

#47 Videomakers please stop doing this!

Photo: SHVETS production / Pexels

Ok, today I have something a little different from the usual blog fare around here: a quick and dirty rant, maybe just a little bit tongue-in-cheek. I beg your pardon. I will only shame the deed, not name any perpetrators. You will probably have come across it and either noticed it consciously or subconsciously. Most likely on YouTube. There’s also a good chance you might disagree with what I am about to say. So be it. Now what am I talking about? 

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#46 Top tips for smartphone videography in the summer — 28. June 2021

#46 Top tips for smartphone videography in the summer

Photo: Julia Volk via Pexels.com

It’s the dog days of summer again – well at least if you live in the northern hemisphere or near the equator. While many people will be happy to finally escape the long lockdown winter and are looking forward to meeting friends and family outside, intense sunlight and heat can also put extra stress on the body – and it makes for some obvious and less obvious challenges when doing videography. Here are some tips/ideas to tackle those challenges.

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Welcome to smartfilming.blog! — 21. May 2021

Welcome to smartfilming.blog!

If you want to learn about how smartphones and other compact mobile cameras can be powerful and fascinating tools for videography, you have come to the right place! I’m covering a variety of aspects on this topic including mobile devices/cameras, operating systems, apps, accessories and the art of mobile videography, particularly what I like to call “phoneography”. This knowledge can be very useful for a whole range of professional and/or hobby videography enthusiasts and visual storytellers: mobile journalists, smart(phone) filmmakers, vloggers, YouTubers, social media content creators, business or NGO marketing experts, teachers, educators or hey, even if you’re “just” doing home movies for your family! Your phone is a mighty media production power house, learn how to unleash and wield it, right here on smartfilming.blog!

Feel free to connect with me on other platforms like Mastodon, Twitter, YouTube or Telegram (click on the icons):

For a complete list of all my blog articles, click here.

To get in touch via eMail, click here.

To donate to this cost & ad-free blog via PayPal, click here.

#45 The Smartphone Camera Exposure Paradox — 11. May 2021

#45 The Smartphone Camera Exposure Paradox

Ask anyone about the weaknesses of smartphone cameras and you will surely find that people often point towards a phone’s low-light capabilities as the or at least one of its Achilles heel(s). When you are outside during the day it’s relatively easy to shoot some good-looking footage with your mobile device, even with budget phones. Once it’s darker or you’re indoors, things get more difficult. The reason for this is essentially that the image sensors in smartphones are still pretty small compared to those in DSLMs/DLSRs or professional video/cinema cameras. Bigger sensors can collect more photons (light) and produce better low light images. A so-called “Full Frame” sensor in a DSLM like Sony’s Alpha 7-series has a surface area of 864 mm2, a common 1/2.5” smartphone image sensor has only 25 mm2. So why not just put a huge sensor in a smartphone?

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#44 Split channels (dual mono) audio from the Rode Wireless Go II in LumaFusion — 4. May 2021

#44 Split channels (dual mono) audio from the Rode Wireless Go II in LumaFusion

Rode just recently released the Wireless GO II, a very compact wireless audio system I wrote about in my last article. One of its cool features is that you can feed two transmitters into one receiver so you don’t need two audio inputs on your camera or smartphone to work with two external mic sources simultaneously. What’s even cooler is that you can record the two mics into separate channels of a video file with split track dual mono audio so you are able to access and mix them individually later on which can be very helpful if you need to make some volume adjustments or eliminate unwanted noise from one mic that would otherwise just be “baked in” with a merged track. There’s also the option to record a -12dB safety track into the second channel when you are using the GO II’s “merged mode” instead of the “split mode” – this can be a lifesaver when the audio of the original track clips because of loud input.

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#43 The Rode Wireless Go II review – Essential audio gear for everyone? — 20. April 2021

#43 The Rode Wireless Go II review – Essential audio gear for everyone?

Australian microphone maker RØDE is an interesting company. For a long time, the main thing they had going for them was that they would provide an almost-as-good but relatively low-cost alternative to high-end brands like Sennheiser or AKG and their established microphones, thereby “democratizing” decent audio gear for the masses. Over the last years however, Rode grew from “mimicking” products of other companies to a highly innovative force, creating original products which others now mimicked in return. Rode was first to come out with a dedicated quality smartphone lavalier microphone (smartLav+) for instance and in 2019, the Wireless GO established another new microphone category: the ultra-compact wireless system with an inbuilt mic on the TX unit. It worked right out of the box with DSLMs/DSLRs, via a TRS-to-TRRS or USB-C cable with smartphones and via a 3.5mm-to-XLR adapter with pro camcorders. The Wireless GO became an instant runaway success and there’s much to love about it – seemingly small details like the clamp that doubles as a cold shoe mount are plain ingenuity. The Interview GO accessory even turns it into a super light-weight handheld reporter mic and you are also able to use it like a more traditional wireless system with a lavalier mic that plugs into the 3.5mm jack of the transmitter. But it wasn’t perfect (how could it be as a first generation product?). The flimsy attachable wind-screen became sort of a running joke among GO users (I had my fair share of trouble with it) and many envied the ability of the similar Saramonic Blink 500 series (B2, B4, B6) to have two transmitters go into a single receiver – albeit without the ability for split channels. Personally, I also had occasional problems with interference when using it with an XLR adapter on bigger cameras and a Zoom H5 audio recorder.

Now Rode has launched a successor, the Wireless GO II. Is it the perfect compact wireless system this time around?

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#42 Camera2 API – Android Pro Videography & Filmmaking (Update 2023) — 15. April 2021

#42 Camera2 API – Android Pro Videography & Filmmaking (Update 2023)

I’ve already written about Camera2 API in two previous blog posts (#6 & #10) but a couple of years have passed since and I felt like taking another look at the topic now that we’re in 2021. 

Just in case you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about here: Camera2 API is a software component of Google’s mobile operating system Android (which basically runs on every smartphone today expect Apple’s iPhones) that enables 3rd party camera apps (camera apps other than the one that’s already on your phone) to access more advanced functionality/controls of the camera, for instance the setting of a precise shutter speed value for correct exposure. Android phone makers need to implement Camera2 API into their version of Android and not all do it fully. There are four different implementation levels: “Legacy”, “Limited”, “Full” and “Level 3”. “Legacy” basically means Camera2 API hasn’t been implemented at all and the phone uses the old, way more primitive Android Camera API, “Limited” signifies that some components of the Camera2 API have been implemented but not all, “Full” and “Level 3” indicate complete implementation in terms of video-related functionality. “Level 3” only has the additional benefit for photography that you can shoot in RAW format. Android 3rd party camera apps like Filmic Pro, Protake, mcpro24fps, ProShot, Footej Camera 2 or Open Camera can only unleash their full potential if the phone has adequate Camera2 API support, Filmic Pro doesn’t even let you install the app in the first place if the phone doesn’t have proper implementation. “adequate”/”proper” can already be “Limited” for certain phones but you can only be sure with “Full” and “Level 3” devices. With some other apps like Open Camera, Camera2 API is deactivated by default and you need to go into the settings to enable it to access things like shutter speed and ISO control.

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#41 Sharing VN project files between iPhone, iPad, Mac, Android (& Windows PC) — 23. March 2021

#41 Sharing VN project files between iPhone, iPad, Mac, Android (& Windows PC)

As I have pointed out in two of my previous blog posts (What’s the best free cross-platform mobile video editing app?, Best video editors / video editing apps for Android in 2021) VN is a free and very capable mobile video editor for Android and iPhone/iPad and the makers recently also launched a desktop version for macOS. Project file sharing takes advantage of that and makes it possible to start your editing work on one device and finish it on another. So for instance after having shot some footage on your iPhone, you can start editing right away using VN for iPhone but transfer the whole project to your iMac or MacbookPro later to have a bigger screen and mouse control. It’s also a great way to free up storage space on your phone since you can archive projects in the cloud, on an external drive or computer and delete them from your mobile device afterwards. Project sharing isn’t a one-way trick, it also works the other way around: You start a project using VN on your iMac or MacbookPro and then transfer it to your iPhone or iPad because you have to go somewhere and want to continue your project while commuting. And it’s not all about Apple products either, you can also share from or to VN on Android smartphones and tablets (so basically every smartphone or tablet that’s not made by Apple). What about Windows? Yes, this is also possible but you will need to install an Android emulator on your PC and I will not go into the details about the procedure in this article as I don’t own a PC to test. But you can check out a good tutorial on the VN site here.

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#40 A whole new video editing experience on a phone! — 28. February 2021

#40 A whole new video editing experience on a phone!

Let’s be honest: Despite the fact that phone screens have become increasingly bigger over the last years, they are still rather small for doing some serious video editing on the go. No doubt, you CAN do video editing on your phone and achieve great results, particularly if you are using an app with a touch-friendly UI like KineMaster that was brilliantly designed for phone screens.  But I’m confident just about every mobile veditor would appreciate some more screen real estate. Sure, you can use a tablet for editing but tablets aren’t great devices for shooting and if you want to do everything on one device pretty much everyone would choose a phone, right? 

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#39 Should you buy a cheap Android phone? 10 things to consider! — 24. January 2021

#39 Should you buy a cheap Android phone? 10 things to consider!

One of the big reasons why Android has such an overwhelming dominance as a mobile operating system on a global scale (around 75% of smartphones world wide run Android) is that you basically have a seamless price range from the very bottom to the very top – no matter your budget, there’s an Android phone that will fit it. This is generally a very good thing since it allows everyone on this planet to participate in mobile communication, not just if you have deep pockets. But as many of us would agree, smartphones are not pure communication devices anymore, you can also use them to actively create content. In this respect, Android phones are bringing the power of storytelling to the people and could therefore be regarded as an invaluable asset in democratizing this mighty tool. But if you CAN get a (very) cheap Android phone, SHOULD you get one?

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