Portable devices are making quality film production more flexible and affordable than ever before, but which tools should a budding filmmaker have in mind — and why?
Quality film making no longer requires the big budget of old, nor the static nature of a three-foot-long rotating camera, that is so long as you can match readily available portable technology with good technique.
Thankfully, film production is more accessible than ever before, and the wide use of portable technology is a big reason for this. In our article, we explore the following ways flexible tech is playing an important role in creating video content:
- Smartphones: for affordable and flexible recording
- Laptops: for focused editing on the move
- Audio recorders: for improving sound quality
Read on as we outline the ways portable devices influence film production for the better and provide some tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your process.
Smartphones: for affordable and flexible recording
Year-on-year the video quality on our smartphone cameras is exponentially improving. The latest iPhone 12 Pro Max, for example, stretches its dynamic range up to 30fps and boasts cinematic video stabilisation in 4K, 1080p, and 720p, which is not bad for something you likely use to consume content rather than capture industry quality video.
But in reality, smartphone companies like Apple and Samsung have (and will continue) to improve their video capability — this is because they need to evolve with society's compulsion to create and share content on social media.
Moreover, the rise of YouTube creators shows you’re more than capable of recording unique, compelling content people flock to view on nothing but your phone, which has made the art of video production more accessible to the average person.
If your budget stretches a little further, however, and you’re on the lookout for extra quality, consider purchasing a DSLR — a single-lens reflex camera, which offers similar portability to your smartphone, but is capable of shooting video in 4K UHD.
DSLRs are popular among budding filmmakers because they’re a flexible solution that makes the most of portability, while still being able to shoot crisp video to a high industry standard.
Laptops: for focused editing on the move
Nowadays even the most basic modern laptop is capable of running quality video editing software — be it Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X for Mac users — so finding a video editing laptop is not about spending lots of money and hunting down the highest specs.
Instead, the best video editing laptops can be defined by three features:
- Lots of memory
- Capable graphics card
- Glorious display
Being able to use a laptop in film production is far easier than lugging around an entire studio or home setup — this makes editing feel like a breeze. Plus, mid-range options like the Dell XPS have a razor-sharp monitor known as the InfinityEdge Touch, which shows the reality of your work unobscured by a lesser display.
All of the above makes film production more flexible and accessible, but If you’re having connectivity issues and finding a small laptop display to be a little restricting, you might need an HDMI splitter — a device that allows you to connect your HDMI video source across multiple screens. It does this by feeding video (and audio) to separate monitors which may not otherwise have the right hardware to link up.
This makes casting video across multiple screens without losing clarity possible, both for viewing and editing on the move, so long as there is an extra screen kicking around.
Audio recorders: for improving sound quality
When using portable cameras, especially smartphones, there is a noticeable difference between video and audio quality — this is because built-in mics are very rarely capable of capturing sound to an industry standard.
So while you can get away with recording video on your phone or portable camera, you’ll likely have to look elsewhere when trying to match the content with quality audio.
Recorders and external microphones, for example, are a great way to capture audio worthy of your commission, particularly if you’re filming speech and need to get your point across.
There are plenty of affordable external audio solutions on the market such as the RODE VideoMic or Zoom H6 (if your budget stretches further), but ultimately it depends on what you need it for:
- Omnidirectional: capturing sound in your surrounding area
- Directional: capturing sound directly in front of you
When talking about portable devices in film production, audio is one area where you shouldn’t cut corners. Whether you’re filming an advertisement, feature film or documentary always look for the best value for money and stretch your budget as far as it will allow.
Film production is more accessible than ever, in part because of the flexible and affordable nature of more readily available portable devices. From smartphones and laptops to perfecting the craft with audio recorders — portable tech is evolving film production, helping it appeal to a brand new audience.