The future of smartphone video production

As technology has progressed – and continues to at an exponential rate – we ask the question: What is the future of smartphone video production?

The first question, however, is ‘Why this question?’

Well – a quick glance at today’s smartphone tech will give you the answer. Modern smartphones have all the built-in tech equal to a majority of the current professional cameras. One of the big hold-backs in recent years has been the lens tech – how to you make a lens small enough for a smartphone, but good enough for professional use?

The answer is – you combine the best lenses with the best software and hardware – and that is what you now have as prices in these elements have continued to drop. It is now affordable to put it into a top-range phone.

Of course, a small handheld smartphone (again, mostly due to lens size) will never compete with a true top-end professional setup. But phones are already at the point where they can produce professional results. And many professionals have already figured out ways to make a professional video on their smartphones.

Smartphone camera lenses

Even with an older phone and lesser lenses, they can be amped up to professional quality. Moment Lenses are just one example of a company with a whole range of lenses and accessories specifically made for smartphones – and all for just a couple of hundred $USD.

Professional smartphone video production is here to stay. It may be limited to a degree, and may never surpass its purpose-made professional equipment older siblings, but the fact remains that it can no longer be ignored.

So just how can you capitalise on this new affordable trend of smartphone video production?

A brief detour into the best smartphone filmmaking

Just before we discuss the subject though, let’s take a brief detour (or, should we say, Détour?) and take a look at a few films that have been made recently on smartphones.

Aside from many short features, there are already a good number of full-length features that have been made entirely on smartphones.


Unsane video poster




Although many films were made on smartphones prior to this, 2018’s Unsane stands out as a watershed moment. It was made by Steven Soderbergh and was the first feature film made by an Oscar-winning director to be shot entirely on smartphones. Soderbergh used an iPhone7 alongside several other types. He also made use of a cinematography app – FiLMiC (see below).



Also shot on iPhone, French director Michel Gondry made a 2017 short movie Détour. It’s 11 minutes of fun which is an excellent display of what is possible to achieve with smartphone technology, and if you want, you can watch it here:



Snow Steam Iron video poster





Snow Steam Iron

Finally, acclaimed director Zach Snyder was busy making his short movie Snow Steam Iron, also in 2017, and again filmed on a smartphone.

Three different examples and all three in very different styles.


If you want to delve deeper, then head over to YouTube for a rundown of some more examples of the best smartphone filmmaking.


Hardware – Ways to get quality pro video from your smartphone

This is not an article about the best smartphones for video production (although we may cover that another time). As others have said before, the best camera to use is the one in your pocket.

But if you are serious about smartphone video production, you may find you need a few accessories to assist you with your filming.

Recording on the smartphone alone will not give you satisfactory results either visually, or with sound quality.  Your smartphone may be good for filming, but alone, will rarely be good enough.



As with any photography or videography, lighting is essential. Unless you are outdoors and have great natural light, you’re going to need some backup.

Even in natural light – you’ll find yourself needing reflectors, filters and fill-ins.

So don’t skimp with the lights – a full professional rig may not be necessary, but get yourself a good ring light for close-ups on faces, and some LED video lights to boot, for additional lighting. Many of these will attach to your rig.


Camera rig

Speaking of which – handholding a smartphone can be tiring for the hands and makes smooth, stable filming a challenge.

There are many camera rigs that are designed for smartphones, and these not only allow you to keep a steady hand (many with a two-handed grip) but also allow for other attachments – such as your lighting and even a microphone.

If you’re into action or a lot of camera movement while filming, then you will also need a gimbal – which will automate your stability for you and ensure smooth filming. Many will even automatically track your moving subject and can remain focussed at all times using face recognition software.

Smartphone video production gimbal


The microphone in your smartphone simply won’t cut it for any form of serious filming.

Invest in a good unidirectional mic for recording audio, and remember to use the windscreen foam cover, to keep background noises and wind noise to a minimum.

Clip-on mics also work very well for vocal audio and will give a cleaner pickup – there are many options for both wired and Bluetooth mics that will connect to your phone for clear sound recording. For instance, phone answering services use clip-on mics to have high-quality audio, which is an integral element of their work.


How to create a smartphone pro video

As with any good computer, the hardware is one thing – but the software is another.

As always with technology, there is a lot of options to choose from – some good, some not so – but the one thing professionals agree on is that the camera software that comes with your phone doesn’t give you enough control.

Rather than review a dozen or so different apps, however, we’re only going to mention one here – since many professional filmmakers who are using smartphones regard it as the best.

FiLMiC Pro offers many options giving amazing control over all your camera settings – and it only costs around £25 or so, depending upon the platform and optional extras you may need.

Without going into a full run-down (you can find that on their website), it gives you control over your focus and exposure, white balance, an accurate zoom rocker control, gamma curve control, live shadow, highlight, RGB and saturation control, variable speed zoom, choice of framerates, aspect ratios and much, much more.

It also integrates with 3rd party options and offers other features such as remote control/viewing from a tablet.

Some of these options are hardware dependent, but it is a powerful program and, as we said, held by many professionals to currently be the best in the market.


Video editing for smartphone video

How to make your professional video on your smartphone

For full editing control, it will almost certainly be better to pull your recorded footage into a PC for editing and finalising – using your favourite software for this.

But again – if you wish to remain a smartphone video purist – then there are app options for that too.

Good examples to check out include Adobe Premiere Rush, LumaFusion and Kinemaster.

A word about smartphone photography

Although this has been focussed on smartphone videography – it would be remiss not to briefly mention photography as well.

Most of the above discussion about the hardware applies equally to smartphone photography as well; the bigger divergence is, perhaps, in software.

There are many photography apps, although most do little more than offer additional filters to make your photographs look cooler, perhaps more faded or retro etc.

If you dig a little deeper, however, you will uncover some more interesting ones.

Ones which take the experience, and eye for composition, from a professional photographer and places all that knowledge and wisdom at your fingertips, in a smart app, together with the application of amazing artificial intelligence.

A great example is Splento’s own food photography app – which distills professional knowledge and tips from thousands of food photographers into an app that makes you a professional. Want to try it for yourself? Go here to find out more about the Splento professional Food Photography App – and never take a bad food photo again!

Although it has been around maybe a decade or so in one form or another, professional smartphone video production has really opened up in the last couple of years, as both hardware and software advances have caught up with the visions – and demands – of the industry.

As more professionals have been experimenting with them and producing some incredible films as a result, so more attention has been focussed onto smartphone pro video production.

It’s an interesting concept – and although it is not quite as simple as grabbing an iPhone and hitting ‘record’ – with a little planning, practice and some wise investment, professional smartphone video production is an exciting section of videography to keep your eye on.

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