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03 May, 2016

Getting started with #MOJO - mobile journalism

Making video stories with a smartphone is a lot of fun and a great way to make and share video content with your friends and colleagues. But, video production can seem overwhelming at first. So, where to start?

For quick reference here are a links to my 10 quick tips, gear, apps, and educational course packs that can get you and your students quickly up to speed.

1. Everyone has a story to tell

The first thing to consider when making video with your smartphone is to think about what type of story do you want tell? For example would you like to share a favorite recipe, take people along on a travel, illustrate a favorite place or person, explain a process or issue, or save people money?

These types of common videos are great way to start thinking about story questions.

A great video answers story questions visually, so instead of telling you first about the apps and gear, I want to tell you about the shots you can record that begin to answer story questions for viewers.

TIP: There more than 100 step-by-step video lessons like this in these affordable online course packs.

2. The Apps 

The apps I use.

Smartphone apps are great for recording, editing and sharing mobile video stories. My number one tip is to organize you apps so you can find them quickly. Also, don't load up on too many apps, get good at a few of the essential ones that do the tasks you need at the moment.

Here is the list of apps I use and teach with today.

3. The gear

Gear helps solve the three main problems when filming video: Stability, Light and Sound.

The Mojo Gear section of this blog lists the latest low-cost solutions for getting started. If all you have is a selfie stick at this point, you can start right now learning how to film more creative shots.

Here's a few ideas for you: 10 Hollywood shots you can make with a selfie stick

TIP: Many beginners start by first getting a good quality external microphone and a grip that allows them to attach their phone to a mini tripod.

4. Filming better quality video

After this, the key to consistently making better mobile stories is to learn the language.

It is entirely possible to produce multimedia at high quality with your smartphone: 
Video, photo, sound, multimedia. 

If you want to learn the step by step methods for mastering visual storytelling, writing to pictures, and building compelling stories I have several course packs organized around different aspects of mobile storytelling. 

Teach yourself mobile video storytelling!

These lesson collections are used by top MOJO instructors and teachers everywhere. There are projects, demos, case studies and they are a lot of fun to take.

Have a look at the free preview videos that are offered on the platform and enroll in a course today!

Happy Filming!


01 May, 2016

The best apps for #MOJO and social video storytelling

These are the apps I use to produce social video stories, for #MOJO (mobile journalism) and mobile filmmaking. 

I dedicate a pane for each task and the first one is the first step for any visual story - Capture. 

Doing this helps me find my recording and live apps quickly - which is very helpful for covering breaking news.

Below is my list of top apps as of May 2016. 

(For my broadcast clients I have some different choices that are tailored to their workflows and story formats.)


Filmic Pro

Cinema FV-5 Android

Hyperlapse from Instagram



VideoShop (Android and iOS)


Nutshell Camera

Viz graphics

Adobe Post

Legend - Text app by Stupeflix


Iris (Enterprise app)

Facebook app


Twitter app and a Twitter account

Instagram app and Instagram account


Storyline by Arcivr

Storyo (Android and iOS)

PicPlayPost by Flambe Studios LLC

Storehouse - Visual Storytelling by Storehouse

Thinglink app

Jamsnap app


24 April, 2016

The six shots you need to film and edit mobile video

Filming these six shots makes it easy to produce mobile video.

The video shows how to film with a 6 shot pattern. The key to making great videos and films.

Use this filmmaking secret to shoot and edit better video with an iPhone or Android mobile phone.

It is a free lesson from Smart Film School.

Watch 100s of lessons like this at

11 April, 2016

15 ways to get the most out of #MojoCon

Here are some quick tips to help you get the most of the MojoCon event in Dublin.

Take the bus
Coaches run between the airport and the city center. For example, I found an 11 euro return fare on Aircoach.

Get the Hailo app
Uber is not the main taxi app in Ireland. Hailo is and it works in similar fashion. You will have a much better chance getting a cab quickly with this app. 

The sessions will be great, but try to split your time between those and the hallways during the event so you can meet more folks and share tips!

Get the MojoCon app
The conference organizers have a handy app to keep you up to date on sessions, events and people at the conference. iOs app, Android app

Make a showreel
Having a showreel on your phone is a quick and fun way to share your best videos and photos. Make an album of your best work and sync it to your phone. Edit it tightly to include just a few of your best shots.

Ask for critiques
There will be loads of experts at the event and most are very approachable and willing to give you some quick feedback on your work. Respect their time and don't ask for them to look at everything you have ever shot. (Hint: Make a showreel ahead of time . . .) 

Chase a rainbow
Nothing is more fun than to try and film than an Irish rainbow. Chances are good that you will find one to film, too. (Don't ask me about the pot of gold . . . )

I spotted this gem on the west coast of Ireland before last year's Mojocon.
Be a mentor
Do you remember what it was like to be a student at a big media conference and how overwhelming it all was? I sure do and I hope everyone will take the time to not only share their expertise with but listen to their questions and offer to critique their portfolios.

Visit with the exhibitors
The exhibitors will be showing some cool gear and services. Take the time to visit with them and kick the tires on all the new stuff.

See the country
It would be a shame to only see the city of Dublin and not any of the nature nearby.

Here's a peek at what lies just outside . . .

Leave room in your suitcase
You will, no doubt, have your arms stuffed with handouts and samples when you leave the venue. Don't forget to leave some space in your carry on or checked bag to fit all your goodies in.

Follow twitter lists
Journalists like to make lists, especially on Twitter. Often we make lists for speakers of events. A Twitter list allows subscribers to see the latest tweets from speakers. Really handy at conference time as speakers often tweet out links to their presos and other links after they speak.

I made a Twitter list of this year's MOJOCON speakers here.

Take a walk

Join a film or photo walk and get some tips from an industry expert. These are among the best experiences - both for the participants and the leader. I led a film walk at the first MojoCon — RTÉ’s Philip Bromwell assigned me to lead a group in advanced filming techniques and it was extraordinary.

Visit a pub
This one should be self explanatory. Nevertheless, if your colleagues find out you play guitar and sing, you will no doubt end up looking like this in very short order.
(You have been warned.)

Get out and film!
I hope you take every opportunity to network and schmooze with industry colleagues while at the conference. That said, I cannot stress enough how beautiful Ireland is so  . . .    

Film some cows
Climb a mountain
See the movie "Once."

and hike the Cliffs of Moher . . .

 . . . at sunset

 Happy filming!

05 April, 2016

10 Top Tips to Make Videos with iPhone

Do you struggle to make spectacular videos with your iPhone? 

Here are some of my top tips for getting the most out of your iPhone's camera.

1. Wipe the lens clean
Your phone spends a lot of time in your pocket and on tables. Gently wipe the lens of your phone’s camera with a soft cloth.

For example, use the inside of your t-shirt! Only a clean lens can produce clear images.

2. Don't shoot vertical video
Video projects over 10 seconds long are best viewed horizontally. Remember, we live in a world of widescreen cinema, HD TVs and laptops. Other caveats: Very few editing apps allow you to edit vertical clips and it is very difficult to frame people and film satisfying action shots in a vertical window.

3. Use a tripod
Stable video is far more watchable. You can often improvise a tripod look by anchoring your body to something large and heavy and bring your arms in close to your body.

There are many great mini tripods on the market that will hold your phone and  many of these are light and small enough to fit in your purse. Remember, you must use a tripod when filming time-lapse videos.

4. Don't use the ‘zoom’ controls
There is no such thing as ‘Zoom’ on a phone camera. You are actually cropping the image and losing resolution.

Instead, use ‘Sneaker Zoom’ and move closer to your subjects. If you feel the need to include a subject’s shoes in a shot, then simply move in and get a close up shot.

5. Sunshine on your shoulders
Pay attention to the quality and direction of the light for the scene you are filming. Beware of high-contrast locations and seek out window light whenever possible.

Avoid capturing backlit shots by remembering to let the sunshine kiss at least one of your shoulders and back.

6. Lock exposure and focus
When filming with the native camera (video or Photo modes) tap and hold on the are you want focus and expose for. Hold this until a yellow bar appears displaying the text “AE/AF LOCK.”

Holding focus and exposure will help your clips look more professional and give you greater control of the final quality.

7. Get your microphone close to your subject
The key to capturing clear audio is to get a microphone close to your subject’s voice box. One easy and low cost way to do this is to plug in your Apple earbuds and extend your hand forward while filming.

Lapel mics are better and there are even pro mics available for when your budget allows the upgrade.

Clean, clear audio is what separates pro videos from everyone else. It begins with the mic.

8. Plan camera motion before filming
Does your next shot need to dolly in focus on one subject’s expression or will it need to pan away and hold a frame on another scene while the narrator speaks?

Camera moves are used for narrative purposes like this. Avoid moving your camera just because you can. Wallpapering is the worst.

9. Experiment with fast and slow motion
Hyperlapse and slow motion shots can be used build creative shots and help you transition from one location to another or introduce new characters.

Try this power tip. Film a medium close up shot of someone’s face in Slo-Mo camera mode. Ask them to turn their head to the right and then back to the camera. Replay the results slowed down eight times. It is amazing, right? The eye blinks, the hair flips, the smile builds. You are welcome.

10. Learn Picture Language
After you master these basics for camera usage, you are on your way to recording better video clips. To learn how to plan and produce video stories with your phone, you will need to study and practice building visual sentences.

Filmmakers call this Picture Language and this language is used to build visual sequences: Shots that tell a story.

Certain shots can be considered verbs, others can be seen as nouns and so on. When shots of the right size and content are correctly placed one after another they flow together because they obey the rules of visual grammar.

Want to learn how to shoot and edit a professional-looking video or film experience using just your iPhone?

I have more than 100 video lessons in this online course that will walk you through the steps.

Happy Filming!

Shoot and edit iPhone video - 100+ lessons