5 Important Steps To Set Up Your Smartphone For Video Filmmaking

Set Up Your Smartphone For Video Filmmaking – It’s the day before shooting a feature with your smartphone. You are going through your pre-production checklist to make sure nothing is missing. 

You have your shot-list completed, your call-sheet has been sent out to the crew, you have all the filmmaking equipment needed for shooting at the front door ready to be loaded into your car, but there is one more thing you need to do, and that is making sure your smartphone is ready to start shooting.

To have your Smartphone ready for filmmaking, you will need to do some digital clean-up before you head off to set to start shooting your jewel.

Smartphones by AppleSamsungGoogle, and Huawei have the video capabilities to shoot incredible footage, but you need to spend some time to set them up properly to do the job. Just a few simple steps to set up your smartphone for video filmmaking will help evade obstacles later when you are out filming and give you better performance with your Smartphone.

In this article, we will break down 5 Important Steps To Set Up Your Smartphone For Video Filmmaking to avoid any issues with your Smartphone when you come to start shooting video.

Related Article: Best Cinematic Video Smartphone – iPhone 12 Pro Max Vs Samsung S21 Ultra

5 Important Steps To Set Up Your Smartphone For Video Filmmaking
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FD12 logo set up your smartphone set up your smartphone

Switch Smartphone To Airplane Mode

5 Important Steps To Set Up Your Smartphone For Video Filmmaking

The first thing you will need to do to set up your smartphone before shooting your first scene is to make sure you put your smartphone into airplane mode for the full day of shooting. Yes, this is the mode that you use when on an airplane, but there is a reason for it, as it stops your mobile phone from connecting to your network provider but allows for all other operating functions to stay on.

Smartphone creators designed this function so you can still use your Smartphone on a plane, but its communications would not affect any systems on the aircraft.

So what’s the point of using Airplane mode when filming? When you switch your Smartphone to Airplane Mode, this avoids you from phone calls and text messages coming in during a filmed take. Even if you place the smartphone into vibration mode without airplane mode being switched off, this could cause added shakes to your video and ruin a great take. If you are the captain of the ship, and everyone looks to you as the leader on the set, a simple mistake of not placing the smartphone into airplane mode will make you look like an amateur filmmaker in the eyes of your crew

If you need to access wifi during your filming to post to Facebook Live, keep the airplane mode off, but toggle the wifi connection button to on, this way you stay connected without receiving incoming texts or phone calls.

If you are not streaming to Facebook live, it’s best to use the Do Not Disturb feature, which will stop incoming calls but still give you access to the phone network supplier. Airplane Mode won’t stop all notifications. The Clock, Calendar, and Reminders can all interrupt video recordings.

So, to set up your smartphone the night before filming, you will need to go into each of these apps and clear out any notifications that could alert you on your video shoot. You don’t have to get rid of everything, just the notifications that could alert you when you are filming.

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Screen Brightness

7+ Best Tips On How To Make A Smartphone Movie For TV & Cinema
Photo Courtesy of Filmic Pro

When you set up your smartphone for filming, make sure your Smartphone’s screen is on maximum brightness. The reason is if you have your display’s brightness turned down, you will not be able to see the correct exposure of your shots. 

Any modifications you make to your image on your video camera app could result in an under or over-exposed image. So before each day of shooting with your smartphone, make sure you set up your Smartphone’s brightness to full to ensure the correct exposure.

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Full Battery

Full Battery - set up smartphone for filmmaking

When you need to set up your smartphone for filming, another priority is to ensure that you have a full charge before the first shot of the day. I know this may sound redundant, but there are reasons for making sure your smartphone has the maximum amount of battery time.

With my favorite smartphone filmmaking app, Filmic Pro, the recording will interrupt and stop when the battery reaches 20%, and then it will stop again at 10%

So to avoid this from happening during your day of filming, having a full battery to reduce this problem from happening. It can be a real pain on the set when this happens and could cause unneeded delays that you don’t want.

What you should do during the day of filming, if you are worried about battery issues, is to only charge the smartphone when you are not using the smartphone. Charging during filming can cause the smartphone battery to heat up, and may produce ruined video takes.

Also, make sure you have a few fully charged portable battery chargers with you! You never know where the nearest power source is to charge your smartphone. 

Smartphone Processor Speed

5 Important Steps To Set Up Your Smartphone For Video Filmmaking

When you set up your smartphone for filmmaking, you don’t want a major CPU drain on your smartphone from background applications running in the background. The key to having your smartphone run optimally during filming is to close down all the apps running in the background, except for the apps you are using on set.

While each smartphone has its own way of closing background applications, it’s key to make sure this is done before each day of shooting.

By only having one app open you will reduce strain on the Smartphone’s processor and allow the app you are using to work at its peak performance.

Also, make sure you have only one video camera app open because multiple camera apps running at the same time can cause conflicts. Plus, with everything closed off, except for the application you only need for filming helps prolong your battery life throughout the day.

Clear Up Your Smartphone Drive Space

How to set up your Smartphone for video filmmaking

Make sure before filming to ensure that your smartphone has an abundance of empty hard drive space. This is extremely important when using a smartphone for filmmaking. 

With the latest smartphones shooting at a minimum of 4k resolution, you can find yourself in a difficult situation if you start filming only to realize you only have 100Mb free hard drive space.

Three to four minutes of video shot at even 1080 HD, can amount to a few gigabytes depending on the Bit Rate of the video files taking up your smartphone’s hard drive. Over the course of a day of shooting, this can add up quickly, so you will need free space on your smartphone to handle this.

To ensure your smartphone has enough storage space for filming, it’s extremely important that you regularly clear out and delete any unwanted files from your Smartphone. 

To have a functioning smartphone, it needs at least 10% of the hard drive free to move data around and work correctly, but with adding video files during filming, you will need a lot more hard drive space than this to make videos.

The day before shooting, make sure that you backup your smartphone files, like family photos or videos onto an external hard drive or computer, and then delete this data from your Smartphone. 

It is important to permanently delete these files off your smartphone, so make sure the waste bin is empty. I know that with Apple products, you may think the files have been deleted, only to find out that there is a hidden recycling folder holding all the deleted files. This keeps unwanted space on your smartphone that you need for your shooting days.

After you have deleted any unwanted video files from your smartphone you should check to see if there are any other files you can delete. Unwanted documents, videos, emails, the web browser’s cache, and other data can all add up to take up room on your Smartphone’s hard drive. 

How to set up your Smartphone for video filmmaking

With Apple products, the iTunes app is another application to keep an eye on in regards to downloaded MP3s and videos. These files can take up a lot of room on your Smartphone’s hard drive. You may need to delete this data to create room for your video files. 

While I get that this part of setting up your smartphone for filming is not exactly fun, it is necessary to have an operational filmmaking smartphone for shooting days.

Also, go through your smartphone and check for unwanted apps that you may not be using. I have seen applications on my iPhone that I haven’t used in years, taking up a gigabyte of hard drive space that could be used for storing 4k video files.

Only install apps you need and get rid of the rest. I am not saying to get rid of everything that is not for video production, but if you have several game apps installed ask yourself if they need to be there. When you do install new apps, have a look at how big the install file is.

If you liked this article, please help me share it via a tweet, stumble, pin, or Facebook share would be much appreciated! 

Trent has spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.

Trent’s film Noelle’s Package was shot on an iPhone, click here to check it out.

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Want to Learn More About Filmmaking?

Become a better filmmaker with the MasterClass Annual Membership. Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by film masters, including Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Spike Lee, Jodie Foster, James Cameron, and more.

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