Aaron Valdez, of the UM LSA ISS Media Center, presented a session at Enriching Scholarship titled “Creating videos with iPhones & iPads.” You can see from these photos that he talked about and showed a bunch of accessories and software.
iPhone (left) and iPad (right) blinged-out for video camera duty
Table full of iPad and iPhone video accessories
What I’m going to capture here are my impressions of his recommendations related to hardware and software that would be most appropriate for turning the iPad (and iPhone, but I have an iPad so that’s what I’m going to focus on). My targeted use is to create tutorials, lectures, and other learning sessions in a room.
Also, I should be real clear here that Aaron definitely does not endorse the use of the iPad for professional or high stakes videos. If you have the money to invest in a dedicated video camera, then he suggests that you get one. On the other hand, if you have an iPad, he thinks that it is capable of capturing (and editing and publishing) acceptable video.
Simple tips for improving your videos
He basically started with a series of short tips that don’t cost anything or require you to acquire anything…other than a bit more expertise in using your device.
- If you are going to record something for public consumption, by all means use the rear camera (which shoots in 1080p) and shoot in landscape mode in order to avoid pillar-boxing (the opposite of letter-boxing).
- Tap on a specific point on the screen in order to set the camera’s exposure for that point.
- Tap and hold on a point on the screen (until the box around the point pulses) in order to set and lock the AE/AF on the video. (This doesn’t work for the camera.)
- When shooting a video, if you can’t use a tripod, then work to stabilize the camera as much as feasible by one of several methods: lock your elbows low and into your body; learn the art of smooth walking (like a marching band member); or put the camera against a wall or on a ledge of some type.
When taking the video, the iPad needs to be mounted to a tripod. In order to do this, you need to purchase something like the Grifiti Nootle ($20). There is no clearly superior product out there now; this simply seems to be something that does the job.
Here are some of his recommendations:
- You should be careful to not backlight your subject; this is a pretty obvious one.
- You should also avoid shooting at high noon or in a room in which light comes from only overhead. This provides a harsh light and can cast unattractive shadows (e.g., below the subject’s nose).
- You should use a bounce to reflect lighting back onto the subject; this can simply be a big piece of white posterboard if you don’t feel like springing for an official bounce ($22).
- In order to avoid the “deer in the headlights” look, put lighting someplace 3-5 feet to the side of the camera if possible.
- A good starter lighting kit is this one by Lite Panels ($275).
This is where the iPad has the most deficiencies. It isn’t possible to change the audio volume or balance as it is recording — you just have to take what it gives you.
- Shoot as close to the source as possible.
- If there are a lot of speakers scattered around the room, then try to position yourself in the middle of the room.
- If you are recording something at a distance, be sure to locate yourself away from people nearby who might be talking. The iPad will do its best to try to record the nearby audio instead of the distant audio.
- For a microphone that can attach directly to your iPad, he recommends the Tascam IM2 ($50) somewhat.
- For a more professional grade sound, he recommends the Rode VideoMic Pro ($150). To use this, you would also have to buy an adapter to connect it to the iPad.
- You can mount your lights and microphone on the same tripod if you use this device ($32).
For apps he found some pretty basic apps that did all that you would need:
- For a camera app, he recommends Camera Plus Pro ($2).
- If you have had to record a video while walking around, he recommends using Dollycam to steady out the shakes.
- For editing videos on the iPad, he recommends iMovie.
More advice & resources
Finally, for more advice on this subject, he recommends that you turn to the following:
So, while it’s not necessarily easy or cheap to get into producing videos at home, it certainly is easier and cheaper than it used to be — probably by an order of magnitude just in the last 5 years or so. The above should provide a good start for my fledgling videography career.
Do you have any recommendations for me as I continue my explorations and experimentations?