How Me Being Cheap Saved Me Money During A Film Shoot

The other day I was working on a project with Anton de Boer, for which we wanted to film a couple of short interviews. However, going into the project we never expected that my smartphone would play a big part.

We wanted these interviews to be a small-scale production and, as we have mentioned ourselves several times, it’s pretty easy to set up such a project. Just look at this behind-the scenes video my colleagues made using their phone (the entire project was also shot with a smartphone). They were shooting a instruction video for Lekkerland about how to make the perfect hamburger.

What To Do When You’re A Klutz

I grabbed my light reflector, my smartphone, my clip-on mic, and the lamps to get started.

I wanted to film from two different angles, so I asked around and found out that my colleague had an professional photo camera lying around. I’m a sucker for working with one of the better cameras, mostly because I secretly never wanted to spend that much money on a camera myself.

To be completely honest, I can be a full-on klutz when it comes to technology sometimes. My default is to go with, well, the default.

Luckily for me, both my phone and this camera had an auto mode for filming, and since this was a demo video anyway, I decided to just try my luck and see what would happen when I don’t worry about white balance and other things I don’t fully grasp. I’d planned to google the specifics for the real shoot.

I set up two of the lights to cast a good light on Anton and to get rid of the shadow on the wall behind him. I then placed my golden reflector to help the sunlight put a little color on his profile on screen, too. I put the microphone on Anton’s shirt and then it was just the cameras.

Since we were going for a format where the interviewer, a.k.a. me and my colleague, would be behind the camera, I set up the “professional” camera right in front of Anton.

However, just to try my luck, I wanted to also film him in profile, too. I positioned my phone on a tripod and hoped for the best. Since it was just a phone, though, I didn’t expect much of it. I was already worried I’d have to find a second camera like this professional one.

We Never Expected What Happened

I first uploaded the files from my phone and everything looked way better than expected. The image was detailed and had the lighting I had intended; it was perfectly fine.

Then I exported the files from the camera, almost expecting better or just similar quality but I was disappointed. It was gray, the golden hue was nowhere to be found and it was plain blurry.

The Answer Had Been In My Hand All Along

Of course, I didn’t use these technologies to their best capabilities, but not everyone can learn to be tech-savvy right away with a camera.

But, even without this prior knowledge, I could’ve done without the expensive camera. If my colleague hadn’t lent me his camera, I would’ve had to buy or rent one, which would both have been more expensive than what I already had in my pocket everyday.

Yes, I’ll admit, I do invest in my phone because I like having a good phone with a proper camera. But I almost never have THE newest phone. And even if I didn’t have it, there are about 19 other people walking around this office on the daily; I’m guesstimating only two of those people’s phones would not have been suitable to film in a similar quality.

Cheap Doesn’t Equal Bad

What I’m trying to say is that you really can use your phone for small-scale projects.

If you want to make an interactive video for onboarding, of course you can do it the expensive way, I’m not stopping you. But, you can also do it the cheaper way.

Your company videos don’t have to be ultra hyper HD and don’t have to be made with professional equipment. Just look at all those YouTubers that have gotten famous by shooting videos in their room.

It’s a new world out there, a world where your phone is good enough and sometimes good enough is better than the best.

Ferdinand Dillema




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