Those with an interest in music may have heard that indie band the Yeah Yeah Yeahs recently asked people coming to their gigs not to film the concert using smartphones as a courtesy to others around them. Stone Roses singer Ian Brown has also criticised the practice, saying that mobile footage is often of a poor quality that doesn’t properly capture what is going on.
Without encouraging you to annoy whoever is standing behind you at the next gig you go to, we thought we’d take a look at the best ways to use your smartphone’s video function and get the best quality footage that you are able capture, whether it’s while you’re watching a band or not.
Hold it still
The temptation can be to swing your phone about and try to capture dramatic, fast moving footage but this will often reduce the overall quality of the end result. Smartphone cameras often do not record at a very high frame rate, meaning that a video will become blurred and pixelated when subjected to excessive movement, something which can be avoided by keeping the device stationary.
Keep your handset pointing in one direction (which might possibly be at One Direction) and let action happen within the frame with only slow, smooth movements if necessary. This may result in you missing something but the final footage will look far clearer than if the device has been moved about rapidly.
Use third party apps
In the same way that filters in apps such as Instagram and Hipstamatic can help to produce interesting still photos, there are a number of apps which can be used to add effects to video footage as you record it, even when using a low quality smartphone camera.
Apps such as Viddy and 8mm let you change the way footage looks, even adding grainy textures for that vintage feel that has become popular for mobile photographs. These filters can often hide the inadequacies of your smartphone’s camera, putting a sheen over what could otherwise be a dull, low quality video. Not all of them are great but it’s worth trying out a couple of free ones to see what results you can achieve.
Use good, natural light
This is one of the most important factors when trying to get good images or video from a smartphone camera, and probably not something you want to hear if you are planning on filming at a gig. Dark areas, especially those which have occasional bright lights (like many music venues) can be very difficult to film in, resulting in pixelated footage which lacks quality.
On the other hand, strong, saturated light will greatly improve your videos, making for sharper footage with bolder colours. Shooting outside on a sunny day is ideal, but any strong source of natural light will make a positive difference.
Be aware of volume
Lastly, have a think about the audio that will be captured along with your footage. This is especially bad news for anyone filming at a gig but the loud music is unlikely to be recorded well on a smartphone, making for crackly sound that reduces the overall quality of your film.
Conversely, sound that’s too quiet will also not pick up well on a mobile device. While there are voice recording apps available that allow you to tailor the way in which sound is captured, few video apps have such facilities so you don’t have many software options to play with. You’d be better off finding some middle ground that can be heard clearly without overloading your handset.