How do I make a movie on my smartphone for TV and cinema?

Until a few years ago I would say that it was impossible to create content for television or cinema with a smartphone, but today they are widely used. I wouldn’t recommend using it for quality fiction, but it is increasingly used for documentaries. This is mainly because you can take photos with your smartphone in places where a large camera attracts attention or where many devices are uncomfortable. They are also good for the news, because many journalists use them now.

Movies are now also recorded on smartphones. The film with a Mandarin smartphone broke through at the Sundance Film Festival 2015 and surprised everyone. Mandarin is unusual because it is one of the first movies recorded on iPhone 5. Using the anamorphic lens adapter for the iPhone, director Sean Baker has given Mandarin a unique cinematographic look. With the help of Radium Cheung’s co-director of photography, Sean was able to enjoy maximum mobility with the iPhone 5. This meant that in a way they could record a video for Tangerine among themselves, allowing them to move around freely. The small and compact design of the iPhone 5 allowed them to film in places that would be inaccessible to them with large cameras.

Since Mandarin, other filmmakers have followed Suite’s example and started making feature films using their iPhone. Stephen Soderbergh used his iPhone 7 Plus to make his feature film The Abnormal. The movie stars like Claire Foy, Juno Temple and Amy Irving. Then he continued shooting the booming bird with his iPhone 8. So with enough talent, anyone with a smartphone can make a feature film. You just have to know that you still have to light up efficiently, there is a great script, good actors and a great sound, just like in any other movie.

Shooting at 4k

4K video arrived on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus in September 2015 and has been used for some time by other smartphone manufacturers. Some smartphones even run in 6K. With 4K, you get about four times more HD pixels and better video quality. One of the disadvantages of 4K is the larger file size, which takes up more space on your phone’s hard drive. If you decide to run in 4K with a smartphone, there are many advantages and disadvantages to consider.

If you decide to record in 4K, you should ask if your video needs an extra resolution that gives you the format. Not so long ago, HD was more than enough for most video content, and it still is. Most TV channels broadcast only in standard definition, not in HD, and even less in 4K. The advantage of the 4K image is that it offers better image quality compared to HD and reduces the effect of color band effects that can affect lower resolution images. So you need an extra definition that 4K can give you? It really depends on what you’re trying to do.

Video image scaling

With 4K you get four times as many HD pixels. This means that when you add a 4K video clip to a 1920 x 1080 HD clip, you need to reduce the size to fit. This has the advantage that you can navigate through the video image and select different parts of the image for your photo. For example, if you film an interview for two people on a big screen. That would give you three strikes for the price of one. You will speak to a wide range of participants and you will be able to push each of them.

It may sound like a lazy cinema, but if you’re in a hurry or only come to a job interview once, it can save your life. This method has its limits. You can only press 50% before the image begins to decompose. With the optional 4K resolution you get an HD editing scale, you can also move the camera in the picture. You can zoom in on a person and then move back to view a larger scene. You can also move the camera from left to right and up and down without losing resolution. It can be useful to enhance the wide static image and can help make your video more exciting.

Image stabilization

Smartphones suffer vibrations when not mounted on a tripod, stabilizer or cardanic suspension. When shooting in HD and using the Image Stabilization effect, you lose the image quality. The reason for this is that the image stabilizer has to click on the video and then shake it, using the surrounding video as a buffer to eliminate shocks. If your video vibrates, this vibration can be very important.

But if you shoot in 4K, you don’t have this problem anymore. You can compensate for irregularities by using image stabilization in 4K video. You can then scale the stabilized video on the HD timeline without losing resolution and shake the free video.

Buy more– Hard drives

A video recorded in 4K can take up a lot of disk space on your phone, so you need to download it to another storage device as soon as possible. Fortunately, external hard drives are now cheap and big enough to store all your beautiful 4K videos. If you want to invest in an external hard drive, try a solid-state drive. They are more expensive than traditional hard drives, but they are much better for editing 4K recorded video. SSDs also have higher read and write speeds than older SATA drives, which means they are more stable when editing 4K video.

Video for the future

If you need to edit an HD video and a standard definition video, you will notice that the standard definition video looks bad next to the HD video. That’s because it has a quarter-pixel HD video. When you upgrade a standard definition video to HD, it loses most of its image quality due to missing pixels compared to HD.

There will always be progress in the quality of video images, so it is important to make videos of the highest quality to ensure the future of video. There may not be much to do now to make 4K videos, but that doesn’t mean that this will be the case in the future. If you record in 4K now, you can avoid these video scaling problems that may occur later. You also get the best video quality for archiving purposes.

Best resolution

Okay, it’s also a little weird for filmmakers who plan to use video from their smartphone for TV shows. It’s a little complicated, so if you don’t want to send your video, don’t worry if you think about it. However, it can be useful and help you avoid certain problems after production in the future. So if you edit your final 4K video in 16 or 32-bit RGB resolution, you can export your final HD video with greater bit depth and color space. Make sure your editing software supports this. You can also use After Effects to convert your 4K video clips to HD to increase bit depth and color space.

Then why are you doing this? The HD transmission standard means that the video must have a minimum color space of 4:2:2 10bit at 50mbps. So when you convert your 4K video clips, you can meet this HD requirement. The 4K video contains much more information about the image than just small details, you also get more information about the color. Most HD smartphones, DSLR cameras and many other camcorders are limited to 8-bit color depth and 4:2:0 color sampling due to their internal codecs. This can lead to gradual colour transitions from one shade to another, pixel formation, digital-looking colour and a fragile image that is misjudged. The sensor itself stores data with fewer pixels and less interlacing. When you convert 4K video at high bit rate from 100MB to 1080p 10-bit 4:4:4 HD, you get a smoother tone and better color flow in post-production.


You can’t just take your 4K files and convert them to 10-bit 4:4:4 1080p. You must perform the conversion with a program that has a color depth of 16 or 32 bits. Most editing programs work in RGB color space (except Adobe Premiere Pro). However, you must set the 16 or 32-bit color space before exporting the material to a 10-bit 4:4:4 1080p file. The codec itself must also support higher data transfer rates. Good examples are DNXHD, ProRes or Cineform. To store all this information, you must use a codec that does not sublimate the samples and can process more than 8 bits per channel. So not only a 4:4:4 codec, but also a codec with 10 or 16 bits per channel.


An example of this is the DaVinci Resolve project with a shallow depth of 16 and the import of 4K video clips. Scale it to a 1920 x 1080 scale and then export it to ProRes, Cinefom 4:4:4 or DNXHD. If you set the project to 16 or 32 bits per channel, your video clips recorded in 4K will be converted to 16 or 32 bits per HD video channel. The same goes for After Effects. Go to the project settings and set your bit depth to 16 or 32 bits. Import your 4K video clips and scale them to a 1920 x 1080 sequence and then export them to a 16-bit 4:4:4 codec, as mentioned above.

Waste disposal

There is a discussion about this transformation and its benefits. I would say that if your original video is of poor quality, the conversion will not improve it. Make sure that the lighting is good and that the video is well lit. You should also shoot at the highest possible data rate to make sure your original video is the best possible. No conversion will help a badly filmed video. So you’re supposed to shoot at 4K? I agree if your project requires it.

Regardless of the debate on its merits, I think you’ll get the best HD video after the conversion. The problem is the large file size, and your smartphone will fill up quickly. I really think the prices are huge, and you get not only the best video quality, but also more choice in post-production.

Such popular positions:

Making movies with a smartphone is like a partisan war.

What’s the best budget for making movies for the iPhone?

What is the best budget to shoot Android movies?

What is the best cheap film equipment for smartphones?

What is the best free video editing software?

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