Whether you're just bored around the house or trying to reach your Instagram follower goal, video creation is likely on your mind. And while you've no doubt seen the latest camera tricks from influencers online, you may be thinking that those cool effects and editing are beyond anything you can do. Not so.
If you’re serious about creating a great video, you’ll want to take advantage of third-party apps that add more features than the Camera app. These are excellent for improving the flow of your video, adding more effects (like slow or fast motion), and making manual changes while filming.
One of our favorites is Filmic Pro ($15), but there are plenty of other alternatives, including low-cost and free apps that you can try; so we suggest you start there.
But even if you choose to use the standard Camera app, with an iPhone, you’ll be amazed at the kind of videos that you can produce, especially if you have a more recent model. Continue reading to browse a few of our favorite tricks, and just how easy they are to pull off.
Reversing video is one of the more popular smartphone video tricks, and can make for some very cool shots with relatively little effort. Whether you want to film an art project deconstruction, a lightsaber jumping into your hand, or just your pet reverse-zooming around the floor, this is the feature you want. However, you’ll probably need a good third-party app to master it. We suggest Reverse Movie FX, which makes the whole process much easier even if you’ve never tried it before. Record the video, reverse it in HD quality, and edit for awesome results.
Whip Pan Wide Shots
A whip pan is when a video snaps dramatically from one shot to another with a swift panning motion. It’s best used when someone throws something, and another person catches it, etc. You can even edit these clips to make it look like you are both throwing and catching – the key is combining two different wide-shot video clips and the trick is pacing. You’ll want both wide shots to pan in the same direction, at the same speed. Master this, and have one wide shot throwing something, and the other wide-shot “catching” the same object. Some acting is required, but mastering this technique isn’t as hard as it looks!
Dramatic Focus Changes
You know those focus changes when the camera suddenly shifts to someone in the background to catch their reaction or other humorous activity? The iPhone camera app actually makes this very easy with its tap-based focus. Just tap anywhere on the screen, and the app will autofocus there immediately. Do this quickly and accurately for fun takes or more dramatic switches to a new subject. It’s a lot easier in landscape mode where you have more freedom of movement for your fingers!
You’ve probably also seen those videos online where multiple versions of people are walking around greeting each other, pretending to be different people, confronting their past selves – there’s a whole lot of options here. The process is called cloning yourself, and it’s a lot easier than it looks. First, you’ll want to look for a video app that offers multilayering, or combining different layers of video together (also helpful for your whip pans, although not as necessary there).
Video Star offers multilayering, but many video apps have it, so feel free to look around. Then, using a tripod, create several separate videos of yourself in the same spot, and layer them together. It may take a bit of practice to look right (and avoid running into yourself), but once you get the hang of it, it’s no problem.
While third-party apps can give you some transition options, we suggest learning transitions that don’t depend solely on editing. The “change focus” option we mentioned previously can work in some cases, but you should also try object-based transitions. In other words, find a physical transition point like a doorway or tree. Follow your subject until this transition point cuts the subject off, and then immediately transition to another scene in a natural movement that’s easy for the eye to follow. It’s easy and very impressive to pull off.
Buttery Smooth Panning
This tip is for those who are very serious about creating professional videos with their iPhones. A gimbal is a motorized stabilizer that essentially turns your iPhone into a top-notch, handheld movie camera. This is how you get those high-quality, “floating” camera movements and pans even while using a smartphone. The downside is that they’re expensive. One of the best on the market is the DJI Osmo Mobile 3, and it will set you back $119. As we said, it’s an option for those who are serious about being professional. If this is beyond you, we at least suggest getting a flexible tripod for setting up trickier video shots.