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3 Simple Tips for Stabilizing Smartphone Videography

Jourdan Aldredge

Let’s take a look at some practical cinematography and editing tips that can help you create smooth, stable, and beautiful smartphone videos.

No one in the film and video industry wants to hear this, but there’ll come a day when we shoot everything on smartphones. Or, at least, some version of smartphones, which could very well end up being as powerful as any of their big cinema camera counterparts, perhaps in only a few years.

Until then, shooting videos, short films, documentaries, and even features on smartphones can be a good solution for web or social-based projects, or at least a fun gimmick for anything bigger. Yet, these are the early days of the future, so any skills that you can learn and develop will end up helping you in the long run.

One of the biggest issues with smartphone videos (as with any other type of videography) is stabilization. Smartphone filmmakers often find themselves shooting handheld, which compounds the problem.

In this write-up, we’ll take a look at how to make sure your smartphone videos look both stable and cinematic.


DIY Stabilization

3 Simple Tips for Stabilizing Smartphone Videography - DIY Stabilization

Image by Dean Drobot.

It’s amazing what the latest generations of smartphones can do with digital in-camera effects and stabilization. If you look at, say, an iPhone 8 or XS, you’ll find some very impressive automated functions that you can quickly adjust for all types of color temperature, lighting settings, and even stabilization.

Your first step is to simply know what your phone can do and work with it when recording smartphone videos. Your smartphone should adjust for natural handheld movements as long as you follow these rules:

  • Move the camera slowly.
  • Give it time to adjust to new lighting.
  • Keep two hands on your smartphone at all times.

But don’t confuse smartphone 4K with the same quality as 4K from your DSLR, mirrorless, or cinema cameras — there’s a huge difference. However, in-camera, your smartphone is highly capable of working with handheld, shaky mount settings — probably much better than most cameras you’ll find on the market.


Smartphone Stabilizer Rigs

3 Simple Tips for Stabilizing Smartphone Videography - Stabilizer Rigs

Image by Rawpixel.com.

Smartphone mount and rig options offer even more stabilization. Here are some solid options to consider. (Generally, the more expensive, the more stabilization.)

It’s worth noting, though, that even the most basic “selfie sticks” or smartphone holders can create at least a little more stability than going straight handheld. Experiment to find what works for you and your smartphone video needs.


Stabilizing in Premiere Pro

Unless you’re editing in-smartphone with apps like Adobe Premiere Rush or iMovie, to get the best results with your smartphone footage, you should treat it as you would footage from any other shoot. That means bringing it into Adobe Premiere Pro — or your video editing platform of choice.

As you can see in the simple tutorial above, Warp Stabilizer can be a very powerful-yet-easy-to-use tool for fixing shaky footage. Your smartphone videos might be a little trickier to work with than any higher-quality footage You’re used to, but you’d be amazed what Adobe’s technology can do these days.

If you’re looking for more insights, here’s some more on Premiere Pro’s Warp Stabilizer:


Cover image by Piotr Piatrouski.

For more smartphone videography and editing tips, check out some of these articles:

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