smartphone filming mobile reporting
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Once only common on Reddit, Ask Me Anythings (AMAs) are fast becoming a feature on Twitter's new livestream video app Periscope.

Glen Mulcahy, innovation lead at Irish broadcaster RTÉ, took questions on the topic of mobile journalism yesterday.

Here is some of the advice he offered on the best techniques and tools to use.

Tripods

For the livestream, Mulcahy was using a Hähnel Triad Compact C5 tripod, which has the benefit of a detachable leg that transforms into a monopod.

However, he noted one downside of the Hähnel is that it only expands to around 1.3 metres, "which means that if you're interviewing a tall guest or someone who's over a metre and a half tall, you're looking up at them, so it's not very flattering".

The tripod Mulcahy uses more often is from the MeFOTO range. Aside from ensuring your tripod can reach a decent height for standing interviews, he said one of the most important things is to make sure it is strong and heavy enough to "withstand reasonable wind".

For video it is not necessary to use a specific video tripod, said Mulcahy, because "obviously part of the ethos it to try and limit the amount of movement that you're going to do, so pans and tilts are kind of a no".

Tripod mounts

Mulcahy recommended the Shoulderpod smartphone rig, an adjustable mount which he noted "will take everything up to the [iPhone] 6+".

Mounted at 90 degrees, the Shoulderpod can also be used to shoot vertical video – a dirty word no more thanks to the likes of Periscope and Meerkat.

Lenses

Add-on lenses can be used to give extra power to your smartphone camera and to produce different effects such as a wide angle shot, fisheye or macro for close-ups.

Mulcahy recommended the iPro lens system, noting that "the quality of the glass is very good".

Olloclip lenses have also become much better quality over the last year and a half, he said, while Moment lenses are also good, although let down by the fact they are limited to just two lenses "whereas iPro do a range of five".

When shooting with add-on lenses, Mulcahy said some models created chromatic aberration, "a soft kind of blurring effect around the corners of the frame".

"Also you can get vignetting which, from an aesthetic point of view, you might actually like," he added.

"But watch out for that because, particularly when you're shooting video, that looks really shitty when you blow it up onto a TV."

Microphones

Mulcahy noted that Sennheiser had teamed up with Apogee Electronics to launch a "dedicated mojo mic option" designed to connect directly to your phone.

Though likely to be high quality, these lavalier mics are expensive – around 250 euros for the entry level model, and around 400 euros for the pro, he said.

His preferred mic for mobile reporting is the iRig Pro, because it provides features including gain control and "a full digital pre-amp".

Battery power

At the recent MojoCon conference in Dublin, hosted by RTÉ, Mulcahy said BBC Radio 5 reporter Nick Garnett had recommended an EC Technology external battery, which provides six full charges.

Garnett used the battery back while reporting from the scene of the earthquake in Nepal.

"It does feel like you're carrying around a concrete block in your bag," Mulcahy added, "but, of course, that's the price you pay for power on the go".

  • Journalism.co.uk is running a mobile storytelling workshop in July, teaching delegates how to turn their smartphones into professional video cameras. Secure your place here, or book as part of a news:rewired+ bundle.

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