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Video Gear


A pro video solution for less than $300
This rig provides stability, light and sound for your smartphone.

Grip | Mic  | Mount | Cable | Light | Ball head | Mini-tripod | Case
Smartphone video training course 




Here are some more options for gear that you can use to produce pro video with a mobile phone.

From simple to more advanced, here are several field-tested kits that can help you record high quality video every time.



1. STUDENT KIT
This simple kit will help you to record better quality video with your mobile phone. We find that a basic, durable kit like this is ideal for students.
See how to use these items in this short video.







2.  REPORTER KIT
Here is a more versatile configuration that allows for more gear to mounted to the grip.
We always want the option to include an LED face lamp and more microphone mounting options to support models of smartphone that do not have a dedicated headphone jack (Like iPhone 7).

This grip provides more mounting options. In this setup, the cold shoe is used to hold a Rode VideoMicro mic. However, for interviews in dark locations, we can put an LED light on top instead, and move the mic to the front.  




3. LIVE STREAMING VIDEO KIT
When pros make smartphone video interviews, they want more freedom and higher production values.

Here is configuration that my broadcast clients use for live reports with smartphones from the field.





The Osmo Mobile is an affordable phone stabilizer and is really popular with broadcast journalists because of the quality and ease of use.

See this video and article for more options:


The Osmo mobile attaches a gimbal to your phone allowing to film smooth, stable video without a tripod.

And, you can attach different microphones to your phone to allow for great-sounding live reporting.

Two wireless Sennheiser AVX microphones are attached to the DJI Osmo Mobile in this configuration.






4. VJ INTERVIEW KIT
Here is another way to configure an affordable interview rig with a great light and mic.

This is ideal for reporting in low-light and indoor situations. This kit has upgraded components to support full-time field reporting from a solo video journalist.



What's in this rig:
  • Shoulderpod R1 Go 
  • Shoulderpod H1 Handle
  • Shoulderpod G1 Grip
  • Luxpad 22 face light
  • Sony battery and charger 
  • Røde VideoMic Me microphone 
  • IK Multimedia iKlip case 

This gear all neatly wraps around an iPhone 6Plus and is lightweight and super secure in the hands.



Note, that in the exploded gear photo above I also carry the Sennheiser ClipMic Digital lav mic in my kit as well.

My testing shows that sound bites, voice-over and piece-to-camera audio often sounds really professional when it comes into the iPhone on the digital side. Lower noise, better gain control and you can engage a digital limiter with the Sennheiser app which prevents clipping.

A carbon-fiber tripod is a pro's best friend.

This carbon fiber tripod easily folds down to pack inside a suitcase and can be extended to full height to interview tall people.




5. DOCUMENTARY FILM KIT

In addition to a wireless mic set, I carry a few more items with me for my documentary filmmaking assignments.


Robb's OSMO configuration for documentary filmmaking and extended interviews. (as seen here)

All of the gear in the photo above fits into my waterproof backpack.

This pack is light enough for me to use as carry-on luggage and also bicycle across sand dunes and film scenes like this.



Look closely and you will see there are actually two special-purpose rigs in my gear bag.

1) A handheld camera for filming sequences (the DJI Osmo).

2) A rig dedicated for filming interview subjects and reporter stand-ups.

Add in this masterclass online course on smartphone filmmaking and you will be on your way to making professional films very quickly.



6. WIRELESS MICROPHONES
Using a radio mic system is the ultimate hands-free way to record interviews and pieces to camera. In the videos below are three new systems that support mobile journalism and budget filmmaking with mobile cameras like the Osmo, GoPro, and smartphones. 

First up is a Sennheiser wireless mic system that works with any camera. The pro-level AVX combo set includes a lav and handheld mic with a tiny receiver. Solid build quality. Built to succeed in the most demanding field conditions.



If all you need to do is connect a mic wirelessly to your iPhone, This low cost Samson wireless mic set can connect to an iPhone via the USB to lightning adapter. I also show their stick mic kit in the video below.




Røde makes a wireless mic set called the RødeLink Filmmaker kit that sounds really impressive. It is priced between the Samson and Sennheiser units.



In the video above I compare the Filmmaker kit with two other Røde mics that also use the mini-plug adapter that the DJI Osmo cam accepts. The Osmo is my stable cam for capturing smooth video tracking shots and also interviews, now that I have found some mics that work with it.




7. POWER MANAGEMENT
Video sucks a lot of power from your smartphone. I like this powerbank because it lets me charge two devices at the same time, holds a lot of power and is ultra reliable in the field. (I went through a score of cheaper ones until I found this unit.)


THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS

I test a lot of gear for mobile reporting and advise my students and clients on what works and what doesn't.

I wish to thank the makers of Rode Microphones, IK Multimedia, iStabilizer, Shoulderpod, iOgrapher, UniGrip Pro, Sennheiser, Genelec monitors, Neumann microphones, Apogee Electronics, Rollei, Shure, Samson, Rotolight, GoPro, Jorg, and Olloclip for their unwavering support as I test their gear in the field.

Full disclosure: My gear links are affiliate links. You won't pay any extra, but the referrals help support me. 


Michigan State University students make films at a Smart Film School workshop in Berlin






8. 360° VIDEO PRODUCTION


The Theta S 360° camera (With a suitable mini tripod mount) are an excellent choice for the class and student projects. Particularly for making still frame spherical images simply and easily.


These 360° cameras attach directly to your smartphone.




Professional live streaming cameras.

The Orah 4i VR camera from Video Stitch





This compact little camera streams 4K resolution live virtual reality video to headsets–all with the push of a button.


It features live stitching and four microphones to capture the ambisonic 3D sound which enables the viewer of the content to locate the origin of the sound source with a VR headset.

Ambisonic audio is critical to VR storytelling.
(Read the full technical details)

The camera is powered by an ethernet cable that runs back to this live stitching production box.


A box with a mic input.


YES! This means we can have the ambisonic sound mix from the camera PLUS a wireless mic in for a presenter or host using a Sennsheiser AVX wireless mic.

Nice.




Live video switcher
If you want to simulate what NatGeo did with live shot switching from the field, you will need a Sony Anycast Live Producer.




360° Cinematic film production


GoPro Omni



BH Photo bundles this six-camera rig with everything you need to capture and stitch together high definition spherical video.


And by everything, I mean it is all inclusive.



It is a fantastic camera array for offline video production.

It does not do 'Live" and it will not record 360 ambisonic audio.

To produce a 360° sound track that matches the video quality, you will need a tetrahedral microphone:

A VR Microphone



Sennheiser Ambeo


and a multi-track field recorder:


Zoom F8 Field Recorder



360° Mobile Journalism field reporting
You will want to experiment with the low cost Insta360 Nano for producing livestreaming 360 video reports from your smartphone.



It costs less than $200 and an Android version is in development.








9. 4K CINEMA CAMERA RIG



A 4K anamorphic cinema rig featuring an iPhone 6S+ in a Helium Core cage with a Moondog Labs lens.
The rig above is capable of producing commercial quality work and it is a very low cost way to get started making professional films.

It features an amazing anamorphic lens that allows you to capture scenes that look like the one shown below.

Note: This rig films  pro audio at a native 2.39:1 aspect ratio - using the same technique that Hollywood filmmakers have used for decades.
How is this done? The anamorphic lens optically squeezes in more information from the sides so that it can be recorded by the sensor. Using Filmic Pro app, the image is digitally de-squeezed and looks like this.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fr-Ulkx9V2s" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>



For more serious 4K workflows I have been loving the results from the Sony A7sII.
It is a workhorse and a super versatile camera that can be configured in many ways to make pro video and films.


I am happy to report that many of my clients are now using this kit for daily video production. It is a rock solid system and a pure joy to use.




Sony a7S II Body (4k video camera)


Sony G Zeiss 28-135mm video lens


Movcam Cage for A7S II


Vocas Spider (Shoulder mount)


Video Devices PIX-E5H 5" 4K Recording Video Monitor


PIX LR Audio interface


The PIX-LR unit screws right into the bottom of the PIX-E recorder and adds high-quality dual XLR I/O featuring Sound Devices mic input preamps with phantom power, limiting, and high-pass filtering.

The PIX-E recorder allows you to capture the 4K video from the Sony A7S II as well as giving you a glorious monitor.

Put this all together and you have a powerful and extremely versatile 4K package that weighs not so much.

Production values, elevated.





10. FLYING CAMERAS (a.k.a. 'Drones')

Mavic pro drone kit



The flying camera has finally come into the mobile era.

The Mavic Pro folds up small enough for me to take with on my outdoor adventures.

A drone is a special shot, but it is the shot that makes reports like this one from The New York Times simply magical.



The Mavic comes with a 4K camera AND it would be the first drone that I would want to also try attaching the Insta360 Nano camera too.

That's right the Insta360 can record video without being attached to a smartphone.