Turn your smartphone into a pro video camera for less than $100

This bare-bones system will help the budget-conscious field reporter or media student to take higher quality video footage with their smartphone.


      TOTAL = $99.94 USD

The Rode SmartLav microphone improves the audio for interviews, standups and voice overs. It works with all iPhones many Android smartphones. Great audio improves production values significantly and you have to use an external mic to get that result.

The Shoulderpod S1 is a universal smartphone grip that will improve your handheld filming and allow you attach any smartphone to a tripod. Stable video is a hallmark of professional video production. 

The Filmic Pro camera app allows you to have manual control over your smartphone camera. The ability to set and lock frame rate, focus, exposure and white balance is what sets pro cameras apart from consumer models that operate in 'Auto-everything' mode.
Auto mode constantly change focus and exposure and the results scream 'amateur video.' 

Window light is free, so use it whenever possible to illuminate your victim! A small 5-in-1 reflector can really help you bounce more light on your subject's face and they can be found online for $15. 

Tips for how to make high quality stories with mobile devices like these can be found in this series of textbooks at the iTunes book store.

Oh, and here is the quality you can expect. Here is a student video made in my #MOJO workshop in Berlin.
It was filmed and edited on iPhone 5.

MOJO Gear Hunting: Shoulderpod S1

Prowling the halls at the massive IFA BERLIN show, I found a well-designed and sturdy universal smartphone holder that will help field reporters make better photos and video filming.

It is called the Shoulderpod S1 and I am currently pairing it with a Nokia Lumia 930 as a handheld b-roll camera.

Inventor Enrique Frisancho is holding this setup as he demonstrates his pro quality piece of MOJO gear at IFA Berlin.

This is the rig I wish we had when we were speccing gear for the hundred of RFE broadcast journalists we were outfitting two years ago.

I had one suggestion for Enrique - that he make a version with a standard thread mount at the top of the unit. That way a reporter could attach a light or mic for making quality interviews.

The cold shoe mount shown below comes with every Magic Arm, for example, so they are common. I would love to be able to screw it into the top of the Shoulderpod.

That one improvement make a huge difference in MOJO field reporting so let's hope that Shoulderpod will offer us a version with a top mount.

Tips for how to make high quality stories with mobile devices like these can be found in this series of textbooks at the iTunes book store.

A Hyperlapse Guide: How to make cinematic motion shots with a Hyperlapse app

A MOJO Minute: Hyperlapse Guide

How to make cinematic motion shots with a Hyperlapse app

Hyperlapse apps make it easy and fun to experiment with motion shots like these scenes I filmed in Cologne with an iPad Mini and the 'Hyperlapse by Instagram' app.

Hyperlapse videos combine a time lapse with a camera move.

These kind of shots can bring a lot of creative energy to your film

Time lapse
In a time lapse, the camera is stationary. You can make time lapse shots with the Hyperlapse app, but it is best to use a tripod to avoid shaky footage.

A dolly shot involves recording a camera move into or out of a scene.

In this example I used the Hyperlapse app an iPad mini handheld as I walked back a few steps to reveal the cafe setting to the viewer.

This compound camera move was recorded with the Hyperlapse app. This pan-and-hold shot captures narrative motion and would be suitable to combine with voice-over narration.

A trucking shot captures action as the camera moves horizontally. Notice how interesting the shot becomes when the camera tracks along with a subject walking on the same axis of motion.


Tilt up
The camera rotates up or down in a tilt shot.
In this example, we see a follow-shot pause, and then tilt up to a hold.

Pan to reveal
In this pan to subject shot, the filmmaker is introducing both the art of Andy Warhol as well as a subject's reaction to this particular painting.

Motion-tracking shot
The Hyperlapse app can produce smooth motion footage when the camera moves with purpose, like in this choreographed move.

Note: I will post a tutorial at www.mojogui.de that shows how to add speed ramps to improve a hyperlapse clip.

Pedestal shot
A pedestal shot is made with a vertical camera move.

Bicycle dolly shot
With one hand on the handlebars, and the other on the iPad mini, it is possible to achieve ultra smooth dolly shots like this.Smooth motion is the key to making great film shots and apps like Hyperlapse for Instagram can help you capture them.

More tutorials are available at www.MOJOgui.de

Robb Montgomery
Author: 'A Field Guide for Mobile Journalism.' Professor: International Academy of Journalism. BERLIN

Field reporters can produce spectacular multimedia pieces all by themselves.

Mobile devices, apps and story forms now allow field reporters to be able to produce spectacular 'Snowfall' type multimedia pieces all by themselves.

Look at this example by an investigative journalist and VJ from Germany who spent a week in Turkey covering the SOMA mine disaster.

Bilde.de's Claas Weinmann filed daily original films (for paywall customers) and then summarized the events of the week with the Storehouse iPad app.

We have reached a point where fully-trained field reporters don't need to return to the newsroom and sit with a developer and a designer to craft engaging multimedia pieces. We are at a turning point.

Do you struggle to make good photos or videos with your iPhone?
This new interactive textbook will get you started in the right direction.

The MOJO Pyramid

The MOJO Pyramid allows trained reporters carrying mobile gear to be out in the field, where the stories and the subjects of those stories exist.
The MOJO Pyramid has three layers, each one requiring different combininations of skills, gear and expertise.

1) VJs - Highly skilled, solo field reporters with specialized gear and the most demanding assignments.

2) Specialists - Dedicated to producing one story form
at professional level with dedicated gear.

3) Generalists - Field reporters producing a range of multimedia assets using common mobile devices.

This concept is fully explored in a Webinar I recently produced for Poynter's NewsUniversity on mobile reporting.

Contact me if you want a private Webinar or mobile reporting consulting for your news team.