How to Vlog with your Phone

I make a lot of videos. I film with a Panasonic GH5 and Canon EOS R. I rarely if ever use my phone. I do however know a ton of other talented video creators who do use their phone regularly, including my girlfriend Nellie.

I figured it was high time to try and make a Vlog only with my phone. These are my top tips on How to Vlog with your Phone.

Recently Nellie and I visited Sintra, Portugal. This is a very popular tourism destination 30 minutes by train outside Lisbon.

It was a crummy day and not the right conditions for making the most of the area around Sintra. Instead of trying to see everything, we decided to challenge ourselves creatively. The perfect opportunity to attempt to film a Vlog with my Phone. 

The cell phone I use is a Huawei Mate 20 Pro. It is an absolute beast phone and I am very impressed with its performance overall. It also gets great reviews for it’s camera.

 

Our first test was the Background Blur function in the video effects. This is found on the main video screen where the small magic wand icon is. 

This effect creates a digitized version of a shallow depth of field. It really is a very cool effect and one I found really fun to play with especially while filming a piece to camera in vlog style. 

 

Next we tried the differences between shooting 1080p 30fps, 1080/60, and finally 4K 30fps. I think my favourite resolution and framerate of these 3 is the 1080p at 60fps.

This allows you to modify your FPS in post creating a slow motion effect which greatly reduces camera shake and immediately makes your video look more cinematic. 

It’s also I style I use often in my client work as a videographer so I naturally trend towards shooting in higher framerates.

After our resolution and framerate tests we began playing with the different built in colour effects and preset filter options the Huawei Mate 20 Pro has built in. 

There is a Vintage, Suspense, & Fresh look available for filming directly on your phone. They are pretty intense colour profiles and a fun alternative to the natural colours the phone picks up automatically. 

I think the biggest things you should watch out for are Audio and Stability

The audio quality is ok but really lacks in any windy situation. I know you can buy wireless lav mics, which are likely the best solution for the audio issues, but if you don’t have a mic setup just be sure to film your pieces to camera in a calm environment. 

It’s always good to double check for Vlog recording on location to make sure it worked and sounds fine.

The stability is terrible when filming with phones. It often looks really shaky when walking or not moving the camera in a slow and precise manner. It’s good to try and be conscious of your movements when filming and really try to get your footage as stable as possible. 

I nice trick here is shooting in 60fps so when you modify your footage in post, it’s immediately slow motion and much smoother. Another good trick is buying a phone gimbal, but I would only recommend this if you plan on shooting all future videos with your phone.

This was a great challenge for me and I suggest you give it a go if you’re keen for a fun creative day filming with your phone. 

The final edit was easy to string together and again I enjoyed the process. Will I be filming often with my phone in the future? I doubt it, but who knows. I can see it being useful for timelapse and quick B-roll pieces when my other cameras are not available. 

It would also be super handy for having a light weight Vlog set up and given that it’s something you likely already have always on you, it kinda sets up for having one less piece of kit if you think of it that way.