Editor's note: Emma sponsored Tom's video project this year, and we were so intrigued by the idea of capturing video content on the go that we asked him to pass along his best tips.
For the last year, I've been managing my video blog Talking with Tom using nothing other than an iPhone. I've been interviewing digital thought leaders and then sharing those video interviews once a week via the site. That's right: shooting video, pictures, writing posts and publishing the entire thing using nothing but the iPhone.
I've learned a whole lot about what an iPhone can and cannot do. Along the way, my iPhone has become one of my favorite blog content creation tools. And today, I want to share seven of the most valuable tools I discovered along the journey.
A picture is worth 1,000 words
Easily the biggest advancement in the iPhone 4 was the camera. With the iPhone 4, you can actually shoot pretty decent photographs and HD video. But if you really want to kick it up a notch you need a few extra toys.
My go-to app for on-phone retouching is Photogene. The app lets you crop, alter colors, reduce the "noise" in a photo and basically take a normal shot and make it look pretty darn cool. So if you're running a food, travel or hotel blog, where pictures really are worth a thousand words, you might want to consider exploring all of the photo retouching apps in the app store.
My second favorite photo app is Big Lens. I'm a big fan of photos that use depth of field to place parts of the photo in focus while other parts are out of focus. The iPhone's camera doesn't give you that ability, but with Big Lens, you can. You can take photos through the app, or just pick photos from your camera roll and select which part of the photo to place in and out of focus. You can even adjust the fStop to increase or decrease the amount of blur. If you're in the food business or restaurant business, this one is a must-have on your iPhone.
Can you hear me now?
The problem with native iPhone audio is the microphone. It's just not that good. The good news is this is easily fixed.
First, to ensure optimum audio, you need an external mic. For basic audio interviews, where your intention is to use the entire iPhone like a microphone and point it at your interviewee while they speak, pick up Brando Mini Directional mic. This little gem is small, lightweight and perfect for conducting one-on-one interviews at conferences and meet-ups.
You'll like this mic because it is small enough to comfortably carry in your pocket and just snap it into to the headphone jack when you're ready to record. Then, just point the mic in the direction of your subject and start recording. What you'll get is audio that is much better in terms of loudness and clarity. But, I also find that it amps up all of the audio. So, while it is directional, you still need a pretty quiet place to record.
To get the best audio, you'll need a professional grade microphone. The problem is, the iPhone can't accept regular microphones that use the standard 3.5mm jack. To solve the iPhone's microphone incompatibility problem, you'll need to buy a KV Connection iPhone Microphone Adapter. It runs about $20, but with it, you can attach any microphone (that has a 3.5mm plug) to the iPhone – this includes wireless lavaliere microphones like the one I use for all of my stuff.
Once you've got this little gem, just find a professional grade microphone that you really like and you're off.
Shooting like Spielberg (sort of)
Probably my favorite use of the iPhone (at least for blog content creation) is its video capabilities. While Apple's built-in video recording tool will give you basic trimming capabilities, you'll have to spend a few bucks to bring the world of video editing to your phone.
For all of my Talking with Tom videos, I've used iMovie. iMovie makes it easy to trim, split and edit clips. You can add a voice-over or soundtrack, even insert title slides (jpegs) or in my case, sponsor slides, and apply titles and transitions – all on the phone. Then you can render and publish directly to YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, CNNiReport (for which they even offer a video template for titles and such) or just send it to your camera roll to be imported to your computer. If you're a big Vimeo user, Vimeo came out with their own editing app, but I've found it a bit buggy thus far. Lastly, if you are shooting in a place where you just can't get good lighting, try picking up the Flare app, which also gives you the ability to zoom while you video (can't do that in the iPhone's native video app) as well as apply HDR effects, etc.
You'll also want to keep that iPhone steady, which can be hard as the iPhone doesn't have a native mount for hooking it up to a tripod. No worries, though: order a Glif. It's a Kickstarter project that resulted in a nice, small, simple way to mount your iPhone on any standard tripod.
And that's it – my seven favorite tools that led me to creating better content with my iPhone. If you want more, feel free to grab a copy of my 28 Tips and Tricks for Creating Killer Content with an iPhone presentation from BlogWorld.
What do you think? Do you have any tips for using your iPhone to create better blog content? Any cool new iPhone content creation tools you've seen that I haven't? Do share!
Tom Martin is the founder of Converse Digital. Tom works with companies and agencies to help them monitor, create and engage in digital conversation to grow market share and increase customer loyalty. He blogs at Positive Disruption and can be reached by email at Tom@ConverseDigital.com.