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Smartphone Video Gear for Less Than $100

It’s that time of year again - everyone is shopping up a storm for friends, family, co-workers, etc…and with video continuing to grow in popularity, it make sense to showcase gear that’s on my radar (full disclosure: some I’ve used, some I haven’t…but, I’m religious about reading reviews, and wanted to pass all of my research on to you)!

All of this gear is for folks using their smartphones to step up their game! And yes, each piece is under $100! Oh, and full disclosure - if the product is sold on amazon, I’ve included an affiliate link at no additional cost to you, if you want to give me the kickback of like, 5 cents or whatever. ha!

Ok, here we go:

  1. Handheld Video Grip

The more you make videos, the more you realize…your arms get tired! I’ve heard a LOT of rumblings about this rig, and how it’s great for folks producing a lot of handheld smartphone video. But, remember: keep those elbows in, that will make your picture way more steady! The cool thing about this grip is that it also comes with space to clip on a light, or mic.

Also, another cool thing about this rig is that it’ll be easier to shoot on the fly, because the handles have a bluetooth button for start/stop. Great for events!

2. Ring Light (stand included)

Ohhhh la la, does this look great. Lighting can be terrifying when you’re just starting out - but this piece is going to make you shine. I know it’s $99, so, right on the top edge of the price point for this post - but, it looks worth it. What stands out to me, is that the bulbs have two different color temps. Which, is huge - because most other cheaper ring lights require that you manually put on a separate filter, no fun. It’s also dimmable, AND has a tripod FOR YOUR SMARTPHONE. Talk about all in one! Boom.

Keep in mind, this is going to be awesome for desktop video blogging! Nice even light on the face. Good stuff.

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3. Rode Smartlav+ mic

If you’ve read my blog in the past, you know this is a repeat from last year…and for good reason. Mine is still going strong, and I beat that thing up! It’s reliable, and literally plug in and use, easy as that. Also, recently - the mic on my iphone has been sounding like crapola, but if I plug this little baby in, it’s alllll crystal clear.

Keep in mind…if you have an iphone with a lighting port instead of a headphone jack, you’re going to need a little adapter like this:

The only downfall with this, is that it IS pretty short…so, you might want to get one of these extension cords with it as well!

4. Pico Dolly

A dolly will add really smooth movement to your video, as long as you’re on a smooth surface. This is great to show different angles for product videography, or - to give your audience a different perspective at an event, conference, around the office, etc…

So, what does it look like to use a dolly? Here is a video I shot with Ellen - you see how the cam is going back and forth? That’s a dolly track :) It’s basically the hefty version of the little guy I’m recommending.

And there you have it - a few pieces of gear to help you UP your smartphone video game, in a quick and easy way. What other fun tools have you been using? I’d love to hear more in the comments.

If you want more tips like this (I’m not gonna spam you, gross), feel free to sign up for my newsletter.

And, if you haven’t already registered - I’m giving a Mobile Video for 2019 Workshop on December 6th!

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Thanks again for reading, stay awesome - and keep puking rainbows!

Erica Hanna
Owner, Puke Rainbows Creative
Speaker, Director, Producer
MInneapolis, Minnesota



December Smartphone Video Bootcamp

dec smartphone.jpg

Since we had such a blast this spring  in Minnesota with our smartphone video bootcamp - we're bringing it back, just in time to wrap up 2017!

By the end of this year, online video will account for 74% of web traffic! But, how do you get started...without breaking the bank for your organization? Smartphones have come a long way since the Zach Morris days, and they hold the answers for many businesses on a budget. Jumping in feet first can be daunting, so this bootcamp is designed to keep things simple for beginners. 

Topics will include:

- How to shoot and frame video
- Easy lighting tips and tricks on the go
- Simple ways to get better audio
- Tips on how to make the most of out of a shoot day
- Questions to ask when you are interviewing someone to get the most moving response
- How to prioritize the steps in your video strategy plan (where the heck do we start, right?)
- Editing basics, and programs/apps to help you
- Maximizing your video once it's done: tips for uploading
- The differences in shooting for videos meant to be viewed on mobile vs desktop

Eventbrite - December Smartphone Video Bootcamp

Early bird tickets are on sale now, and the discounted price is available until November 17th - spots are limited, so buying a ticket sooner rather than later is recommended. I can't wait to see all of you there! Celarity is our host/sponsor, and they will be providing a light breakfast, coffee, and snacks. 



4 Mistakes to Avoid While Shooting Smartphone Video

College of Saint Benedict and   St. John's University participate in a Puke Rainbows DIY smartphone video workshop

College of Saint Benedict and St. John's University participate in a Puke Rainbows DIY smartphone video workshop

More and more content teams and small businesses are using smartphones to capture video content. And, why wouldn't you? It's inexpensive, and is great for certain platforms. While you're not going to become Martin Scorsese overnight, there are a few common mistakes you should avoid to get the most of your top tier smartphone video skills. 

  1. Shooting without a plan. 
    Video is so accessible to us on our phones, and in some ways that can make us lazy or frantic in our efforts. Instead of going to an event with a plan, we may simply shoot as MUCH footage as possible. But, this also means way more time sifting through it in post production (editing). Have a plan. Know what you need the video for, first. 
  2. Shooting vertically with your phone. 
    Chances are, you’ve never watched your TV vertically, right? When you shoot your video vertically, instead of shooting in landscape or horizontal mode, it makes it tougher to use across all platforms. Sure, spots like instagram crop it into a square, anyway - but, think about the fact that if the video is as good as you want it to be, you very well could be using it in an upcoming meeting, at a conference, or in a presentation - on an HD screen, and shooting in landscape mode will safe you from editing hassles of putting it on a background, etc...
  3. Forgetting about speed effects. 
    Hanging out at an event? Set up your smartphone and shoot a timelapse to show how many people are flowing in and out. Looking to show emotion? Get in close, and use the slow motion feature - smiles, laughs, tears in slow motion allow viewers to live in that beautiful moment, even longer.

     4. The “to catch a predator” interview technique.
         If you sit someone in FRONT of a window, and try to film them as they are backlit...chances are, they        will look like a silhouette. Instead, have them look AT the window. The light will be even on their face. 

Not sure if you should try the DIY route with a smartphone, or hire a video crew? Here is a handy post that may help you make that decision: DIY Video vs. Hiring a Professional

Best of luck with all of your video content missions, and as always - feel free to message me if you have any questions. I'm also offering internal Smartphone Video Workshops if you'd like to bring your team together for some fun training and Q & A to save time while you're learning this fun new world. Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to read the tips - stay in touch! 

Erica Hanna
Emmy Winning Video Producer/Director/Speaker