How to turn your phone into a powerful movie-making tool

What is the best camera of all time? Arrive Alexa? Store RED? Panavision Millennium DXL2? While all of these options are great, we have one you probably haven't considered.

Your smart phone.

It's easy to drool over the latest tech and fancy specs, but you can create captivating videos with almost any camera, even on smartphones!! It's common to leave out smartphones when it comes to making cinematic movies, but that device in your pocket is more powerful than you think.

Nowadays, almost all smartphones can shoot in Full HD, and even in 4K. So whether you have an iPhone or Android or something in between, you already have the wherewithal to create professional-looking movies.

OK, so maybe you can't just show up to a pro shoot, whip out your iPhone, and say, "Let's do it!" But you can write a script, attract friends, and make a short film worthy of your portfolio, your reel, or your YouTube channel, all with your phone. To help you out, we've put together some tips, app and gear recommendations that will help you get the most out of mobile footage.

You can also browse our stock footage library to take your mobile movie to the next level without breaking the bank.

Mobile app

Smartphone camera settings have definitely changed over time and there are a lot of things you can do in your device right now that you might not even know about.

So how do you unlock your phone's true potential? The answer lies in mobile apps: yes, mobile apps can do more than just throw frustrated birds at green piggies.

FilmMic Pro is an app available for Apple iOS and Android with advanced features to help you create awesome 4K video content. This app gives you full manual controls, including changing exposure, ISO, shutter speed, and zoom. You also have the option to adjust the video settings (exposure, contrast, saturation, hue, etc.) after capturing the movie. FiLMic Pro also supports 10-bit SDR on iPhone 12 series and some Android devices. This app has been repeatedly named iOS Video Camera App of the Year and has been used on high profile video projects. Priced at $14.99, FilMic pro is perhaps the most popular product to upgrade your phone's camera.

Script Celtx is a free app for iOS and Android to help you with all your scripting needs! Celtx Script lets you write properly formatted scripts from your mobile device or tablet. Some key features include automatic script formatting, stage playback, audio playback, and Comic Book format.

Film Slate 8 is an all-in-one digital slate, clapperboard, shot log, and notepad available as an iOS app for $29.99. This app can help you get organized for film projects by recording footage and taking notes as you shoot. It also logs production information, logs notes, syncs timecodes, and generates daily shot reports. Movie Slate 8 can also be connected to software such as Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere.

Stabilize your phone

The downside of using phones as cameras is that they are extremely small and light. Although good for rifle shooting, the lack of weight usually results in more wobble. Fortunately, this is an easy fix. There are many smartphone accessories that allow you to mount your phone on a tripod. These are simple and don't have to be expensive, but they are very effective. The Torjim 60″ Phone Tripod is a great option that is portable and the height can be adjusted.

If you're looking to add some extra light to your shots, there are some really cool tripods with built-in "selfie" lights for that extra glow. Check out the Ubeesize 10″ selfie ring light that comes with a 50″ extendable tripod. This way, your camera won't shake and you'll shine bright!

Get some glass

You can really improve phone footage images by getting specialized lenses for mobile devices. Just like DSLR lenses, mobile lenses can be wide, telephoto, and even anamorphic. While these aren't necessary given that many phones have a decent zoom range, these lenses can help change perspective and also give you that shallow depth of field. These Apexel lenses are great value for money! They can cling to almost any phone, and they look good too!

Top mic

Remember that what you hear is just as important as what you see. Fortunately, the phones have very good internal microphones. If you think about it, their main purpose is to transmit sound. However, there is always something that can improve the performance of the phone. This happens to take the form of external microphones specially designed for smartphones. There are tons of options that will record crisp, clear audio straight to your phone – the EACHSHOT Smartphone Microphone and Saramonic Micro Plug Microphone are affordable and a great place to start. You can also get the ttstar micro lav to record audio closer to your subject.

It shows: it's not the camera that matters, it's how you use it. All of those amazing props aren't even necessary to create something that sticks with your audience. Composition, lighting and overall story work independent of the camera. These are the factors that separate a good filmmaker from a bad one, not the type of camera they use. An audience would rather watch an incredible story filmed on an iPhone than a horrible one filmed on an Arri Alexa. So if you learn to work with what you have, you'll be well on your way to becoming a better filmmaker in no time.

If you want an extra tool to help you edit your beautiful footage from your smartphone, check out Maker , a quick and easy editor where you can create professional looking videos with no experience required.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on November 17, 2017, but has been updated to reflect current information.