Filmmaking

Shooting Video with an iPad and Getting Professional Results

Written by L. Scott Harrell

I admit, I still chuckle and shake my head a bit when I see people carrying around their iPads and casually taking pictures of their vacation or shooting video with an iPad at their kids’ latest recital. I am reminded that, just a few weeks ago, an older lady was shooting video with an iPad at a wedding, and it was a large tablet, much to the consternation of me and everyone behind her. She was seated in the 2nd or 3rd row back from the bride and groom and had the iPad held up over her head. She couldn’t see the video she was getting… but the rest of us could. It was unstable, not entirely horizontal and the exposure was drifting due to the sunlight coming in and out of the stain glassed window behind the officiant. While everyone craned their necks to see around the iPad, I could only think about who was going to be held hostage and subjected to having to watch that mess in the future… and I shuddered.

It’s such a shame, too, because the iPad has a tremendous amount of potential for shooting professional quality video, even in the hands of an amateur or inexperienced filmmaker.

The iPad shoots gorgeous high definition video right out of the box. The screen is large and bright and the iPad’s camera controls are simple, intuitive to use and rich with features. For the more advanced user, the Apple Store offers dozens of excellent video camera apps that make the built-in camera even more powerful through image enhancement, stabilization, filters, exposure meters, aspect ratio and other granular controls. These apps even make use of the iPad’s wifi and cellular connects to add features like real-time video streaming, video capture to wireless storage devices, monitoring and remote control. Of course, there are professional grade video editing iOS apps available as well, making the iPad a complete filmmaking system taking “in-camera editing” to a whole new level.

Like most video techniques, though, shooting video with an iPad, or any other HD video-capable tablet or mobile phone, and getting professional results, requires more than the camera itself – no matter how powerful it might be. Properly recording video with an iPad requires that the filmmaker knows just a few fundamentals about shooting video with a mobile device:

  • Keep the camera horizontal and steady.
  • Get as close to your subject as possible.
  • Have the right light.
  • Capture clean audio; it’s probably more important than the video quality.

The iPad may be an all-in-one filmmaking machine and fine for your home movies but if you plan to do any sort of amateur filmmaking or business-related video production with it, then in addition to these tips for shooting video on a mobile device, you’re going to need a tripod, a light source and an external microphone. The ability to add a few different lenses would be helpful as well.

How do we attach a tripod, light, microphone and camera lenses to an iPad?

With a camera cage or holder that is purpose built for an iPad. It just so happens that I’ve seen a few different examples both at conferences and online lately. I’ll be updating this article in the next few days with a market survey of products by Padcaster, Mayakama, Ipow, Olloclip and many others.

Padcaster revolutionized shooting video with an iPad.

The Padcaster is more than an aluminum iPad case for shooting video. It is a complete kit that holds your iPad while filming and allows you to securely attach a variety of camera lenses, lights, microphones, tripods and other video camera accessories to it. The Padcaster is an aluminum camera cage made specifically for the iPad, though there’s an optional mount for GoPro action cameras also.

With the sweet lady from the 2nd row shooting video with an iPad high above her head in mind, I reached out to Josh Apter, the creator of Padcaster, for the backstory of this piece of ingenuity.

What does Padcaster do?

Padcaster turns an iPad into an all-in-one mobile production studio. The Padcaster includes:

  • the Padcaster Case;Padcaster for Shooting Video with an iPad
  • Lens bracket with 72-58mm step-down;
  • 45 wide-angle lens,
  • YT-1300 unidirectional microphone;
  • Dual microphone and headphone cable;
  • Four (4) lens bracket mounting screws;
  • One (1) custom camera cage screw; and
  • One (1) cold shoe adapter.

In addition to these accessories, we also sell a variety of tripods, microphones, lights, clamps, green screens and more.

For whom is Padcaster intended? Describe your typical or ideal customer.

Padcaster is intended for anyone shooting video with an iPad and striving to create high quality, professional video. We are constantly amazed at the diversity of ways in which people utilize the Padcaster. From students producing morning announcements at school, to professional mobile journalists shooting on location, to small businesses aiming to create product videos, our users are creating a variety of professional content with our tools.

Who created Padcaster and when was it launched?

I created Padcaster in 2013. I’m a filmmaker myself and run Manhattan Edit Workshop, a film editing school based out of New York. In order to make the first prototype of what is now the Padcaster, I literally took my iPad to a framing store and had it framed like a picture. We have come a long way since then, expanding our line to over 25 products.

Why was Padcaster created?

With traditional cameras and accessories adding up to thousands of dollars, filmmaking can be an incredibly expensive endeavor. A filmmaker himself, Josh was well aware of this. He also recognized the power of the camera on his iPad. However, the iPad on its own can’t be stabilized or capture high quality sound. The Padcaster solves these two issues by allowing users to mount it to a tripod and attach a microphone, along with other accessories like LED lights to boost film quality.

In addition to the affordability of shooting video on the iPad, it’s also convenient. I took a very early version of this contraption to the NAB Show, a giant film and technology conference. I walked around the show interviewing people with the device and uploaded the videos straight to YouTube. People were shocked at how quickly the entire process transpired.

What sets the Padcaster apart from your competitors?

The Padcaster is rugged, elegant, and professional. This is a tool for creating the highest quality content. Additionally, we set ourselves apart with our commitment to customer service. The Padcaster is extremely intuitive, yet we’re always here to answer any questions, advise on apps to use with your Padcaster through our Periscope videos and “Tuesday Tip” newsletters, among others. Padcaster maintains a strong commitment to teach users how to do more with their Padcaster products.

How does Padcaster create value for your clients?

Shooting Video with an iPad and PadcasterWe largely enhance the value of the iPad as a filmmaking machine. The iPad inherently can shoot high quality video, and we take that to the next level. Our customers make the quality video they want at the price they want.

Can you share with us an example of how your customer has used your service or product to specifically make money in his or her own business? In other words, how would an entrepreneur or filmmaker grow or profit from the use of your product or service?

Our customers use Padcaster products to shooting video with an iPad and create high quality video at a low cost. Businesses are thus able to produce video content without purchasing expensive equipment or hiring an outside firm. Anyone that wants to create video content for their business can benefit from our products.

How can Video Entrepreneur Magazine readers learn more about Padcaster?

The Padcaster and accessories for the Padcaster can be found on Amazon. The Padcaster for iPad mini is also available online at Apple.com.

Readers, do you have a favorite filmmaking accessory for your iPad or tablet? We want to hear about it! Please let us know in the comments below! 

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About the author

L. Scott Harrell

L. Scott Harrell is the Executive Editor of Vtrep.com. He is also a serial entrepreneur and top tier business development professional who speaks leadership, startups and digital media masterfully. Scott can be reached via email: editor@vtrep.com

Download Our Free
BIG Book of Shooting Video

"The Amateru's BIG Book of Shooting Video With Almost Aything!"
Download It Now