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How To: Shoot B-Roll, Get Great Action Shots, Shoot Cinematic Footage with a Smartphone ... and more

By David Schonauer   Monday May 6, 2019


Got a smartphone?

You can be a cinematographer.

Today’s roundup of filmmaking tutorials from around the web includes a guide to capturing high-value cinematic footage with a smartphone. As you may have heard, shooting video with smartphones isn’t just for amateurs anymore (the Tonight Show shot an entire episode with Samsung Galaxy s10+ smartphones not long ago). Below, YouTuber Zach Ramelan offers seven tips to get the best quality footage from a smartphone.

The most important factor in doing so, notes Ramelan, is working with good light. Luckily, we also have a tutorial from Ramelan detailing five DIY lighting hacks you can do with a smartphone.

There are also tutorials on lighting subjects’ faces, shooting B-roll, how to get amazing shots from inside waves, and how to get great products shots, as well as a guide to gear you actually need for filmmaking. We’ve also included some lessons from Hollywood director and screenwriter Paul Schrader about turning words into images.
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1. Get Cinematic Footage with a Smartphone

Besides working with good light, YouTuber Zach Ramelan advises you to experiment with different frame rates — shooting at 1,000 frames per second (or even 120) and playing back at 24 can make for some very nice slow motion effects, notes DIY Photography. Remember to use a gimbal. Also, shoot in 4K.


2. Clever Lighting Tricks You Can Do with a Smartphone

You don’t need a lot of fancy lighting gear to create some awesome light effects: Here Ramelan shows you 5 DIY smartphone lighting hacks. Use your phone as a fill, a sidelight, a backlight, and more.


3. Three Easy Ways to Light Actors’ Faces

In this video from Aputure, director of photography William Hellmuth breaks down three basic ways of lighting actors. There’s the far-side key light, the near-side key with bottom lighting, and the top light. NoFilmSchool as more.


4. B-Roll Basics


If you wonder what B-roll is, you’ll want to watch this video from content creator Jeven Dovey, who explains the basics of B-roll — that is, footage covering essential details that might be useful to complement the main subject during editing. He also explains how to use B-roll footage for extra revenue.


5. How To Shoot B-Roll When You’re Going Solo

You may find yourself working with a film crew of one — namely you. Here, YouTuber Matti Haapoja offers eight tips for shooting B-roll when you’re flying solo. Tip one: You don’t need to hold the camera all the time.


6. Tips for Getting Great Action Shots

In this video from Indy Mogul, Devin Graham, an action and extreme sports videographer based in Utah, offers useful tips for how to shoot action sequences. Don’t be afraid to get up close and use a wide-angle lens.


7. Shoot Inside Waves with a GoPro

Here, former pro surfer-turned-videographer Brett Barley shows how he gets incredible footage from deep within the heaving beauty of waves. He explains everything from camera settings on his GoPro Hero 7 to … breathing techniques. Also, remember: saliva is your friend.


8. Find Success in Commercial Product Cinematography

Think shooting from inside a wave is hard? Try lighting a beer bottle! In this Aputure video, cinematographer Brent Barbano talks about how to light products for amazing footage.


9. What Beginning Filmmakers Need to Know … and What Gear They Need to Have

If you’re a beginning filmmaker, you will make filmmaking mistakes. Good! That’s how you learn. But you might save yourself some agony by watching the video above from Simon Cade of DSLRguide, who runs through common beginner mistakes … such as failing to prepare for a shoot.

Meanwhile, the video below, from Indy Mogul, runs through the gear that you will absolutely need.

Your kit doesn’t need to be elaborate, but you will need a tripod, a color chart, a key light, an accent light, a shotgun mic, an audio recorder and some other items — such as a camera.


10. Paul Schrader on How to Make Your Words Turn into Images

How do you turn the ideas in your head into images? Paul Schrader, famed director and screenwriter, knows something about that. In this video from the BAFTA Guru series, Schrader offers some valuable screenwriting tips. When you're typing don't worry about how flowery you can make your ideas sound — no one really cares about that, adds NoFilmSchool. Instead, worry about how you can communicate the ideas on the page visually and simply.

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