Figured that I’d start this category by making a suggestion for mobile.
There are a lot of users who start with cinemagraphs on their phones with Cinemagraph Pro for iOS.
It’s easy to whip out your phone, shoot and edit on the go and have something done before your coffee is finished.
But, what if you wanted a slightly better quality option, especially if you’d like to up your game and start doing some editing on your computer, or at least have more tweaking headroom when you edit on your phone. Natively shooting on an iPhone comes with some inherent limitations, like resolution (depending on your model), colour, contrast, exposure, dynamic range, etc.
(Dynamic Range is the width of how much information you can simultaneously capture in both highlights and shadows. For instance, shooting someone standing under a tree’s shadow, on a bright sunny day, will usually leave the skies/clouds completely overexposed because of limited dynamic range. With better dynamic range, depending on cameras and profiles, it’s possible to see more detail in both highlights and shadows).
Most of the time, when we use the iPhone camera or the Cinemagraph Pro camera, the phone shoots with much of it on ‘Auto’ mode. Your exposure and dynamic range is automatic, and you have no decision-making power on the colour of the video.
What do I mean by this? Well, aspects like saturation and contrast are ‘baked in’ in your video, meaning you can change it in your editing to some degree, but not enough to make a huge difference before you start seeing artefacts like pixelation.
So one very good option on the market, is to use an app called Filmic Pro.
Filmic Pro is an industry-leading mobile filming app, which gives you far more options in capturing your footage.
Using Filmic Pro, you can set different parameters in your phone, like shutter speed and ISO. You can also select different recording options with different bitrates, which basically mean you can optimise how much data/information is captured in the video file.
Another bonus, is that you can also set a ‘flat’ profile.
This means that you can set a profile that looks less saturated and contrasted (more washed out), which means that you have a lot more freedom in tweaking colour and contrast in your editing.
You can even go further and use an in-app purchased option to shoot in a logarithmic profile. This is similar to shooting flat, but is an optimised way to capture the best exposure levels and dynamic range that’s possible with the phone’s sensor.
This also means you might want to look into using Filmic Pro’s LUT (look-up table), which is essentially a preset that helps to ‘normalise’ the footage once you start editing.
They have all the information on their website, and suffice to say that this final workflow step requires computer editing, but it means you can transfer your footage from your phone, do your editing, and send back to the phone to use Cinemagraph Pro, or to post - if you use Cinemagraph Pro on your computer.
If you’re not using the logarithmic setting, you can edit your footage in a variety of video apps on your phone, before making your cinemagraphs.
I hope this helps you out if you don’t have a dedicated camera but are looking to take up the quality of your iPhone shots.
If you’re on twitter, I have a friend called Rich Lackey (@RichLackey) who is a beta tester and does tutorials on getting the best cinematic quality with your phone using Filmic Pro. He also has a YouTube channel and has shot some really great looking stuff on his phone. He doesn’t do cinemagraphs, but what he does will really help you with the look of your work. Look him up.
Please drop in any feedback if you’ve used this workflow and have noticed a difference in quality in your work!