Search This site

Video Gear


Build a low-cost home video studio with smartphones




You can produce pro video with your smartphone and this gear.

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



1. Basic kit (iOS and Android)

This universal rig will help you to record better quality video with your mobile phone.

In this setup, the cold shoe is used to hold a Rode mic. 

For interviews in dark locations, you can put an LED Light on top. You can then mount the mic to the front using this Universal mount.

If you have a late-model iPhone without a headphone mic jack, you can attach a Shure MV88 digital mic instead. 

This solution will free up the cold shoe mount for a LED light.



This Mobile Journalism certificate training course will show you how to film and edit smartphone video.




2. Basic Live Video kit (iPhone)



Røde reporter mic with i-XLR, Shoulderpod grip, Manfrotto MT-Pixi-B tripod, Camvate camera grip.

Just add an iPhone 6S+ and stream live with pro audio with your favorite app.





3. Osmo Mobile video kit (Gimbal stabilizer)
When pros make smartphone video interviews, they want more freedom and higher production values.

Here is configuration that my broadcast clients use for making 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. Both mics feed into the iPhone 6S+ with a Røde SC6 adapter. 



4. BREAKING NEWS LIVESTREAM 'GO-BAG'

My “GO BAG” for broadcasting Mobile Journalism livestreams.

As a professional journalist (and having worked as a photojournalist for the Associated Press early in my career) I always keep a packed "go bag" in my studio that will allow me to cover breaking news situations. 

My current go bag includes a carbon-fiber tripod, smart phone grip and a broadcast microphone. I also have a charged up power bank, and extra cables kept in a separate small bag). 

I keep all of this gear in a waterproof backpack so that when the call comes, I can go live in 90 seconds.

i-XLR pre-amp
IK Multimedia iRig lav mic
Headphones
charging cable
iPhone 6S+ (not shown) 




5. A 4K CINEMA SMARTPHONE 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.

 



I sometimes 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.


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.





6. 360° VIDEO PRODUCTION




The Theta 360° V camera (With a suitable mini tripod and extension mount) are an excellent choice for starting out.

Particularly adept at making seamless high resolution 360° spherical still images simply and easily.

And these 360° cameras attach directly to your smartphone.

Learn to edit 360° VR video on your iPad and iPhone.






More video gear I am testing . . .


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.


Professional live streaming 360° VR 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:





4K Cinema rig

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 commercial 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.





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.




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