By Tom Samiljan
October 07, 2014

How to become a top videographer—with nothing but your smartphone.


Five tips for capturing stellar footage.

1. Hold your phone horizontally.
It’s the only way to avoid having black bars on either side of the frame. Record via Horizon ($1.99; Android, iOS), and videos will default to landscape mode.

2. Look for sunshine.
Avoid dark settings, which make for grainy videos, and turn on every available light when shooting indoors.

3. Cancel out the noise.
Shoot in quiet places if possible—otherwise, cup your hand around the mic, or use an add-on microphone, such as the Mikey Digital ($99), to minimize aural distractions.

4. Use a tripod.
We love the ultra-portable Griptight GorillaPod Video ($50), which comes with a tilt-and-pan handle for smooth sweeping shots.

5. Don’t be afraid to overdo it.
Shooting several takes—and including still images—will offer context; it also provides more options during the editing process.

Editing & Sharing

Tools that take your flicks from amateur to pro.

Best for filters: Cameo (free; iOS)
Vimeo’s debut filmmaking app—coming soon to Android—stitches together new and existing footage and adds filters with funky themes that extend to the title cards and credits (we love the Wes Anderson–inspired “Royal”).

Best for special effects: Filmic Pro ($4.99; iOS)
Unleash your inner James Cameron with unparalleled manual controls that allow you to tweak cinematic details such as frames per second.

Best for Android: VidTrim Pro ($3.99; Android)
Few great movie-making apps exist for Android users, since video processors vary widely across devices. This app can shorten clips, add a soundtrack, and even increase your resolution to HD-quality 1080p.

Best for editing on the go: Fly (free; iOS)
Easy to use and effective; its intuitive swipe and pinch motions let you rearrange images, trim clips, and create picture-in-picture scenes.

Best for social sharers: Cinamatic (free; iOS)
Ideal for Vine and Instagram addicts, it offers premium controls for contrast, saturation, and brightness—all with the goal of producing the perfect six-second clip.


The smartest place to store your videos isn’t on your phone—or with expensive cloud services.

It’s officially the era of personal clouds. These compact, wireless hard drives keep your files private and secure, on servers that only you can access. Our favorite, LyveHome ($299), is optimized for photo and video management—it automatically uploads, consolidates, and organizes a whopping 2 terabytes (that’s 2,000 GB) of content from all of your family’s mobile devices. Plus, a companion app makes it easy to browse (and share) your files from any computer, phone, or tablet.

Quick-fix Apps

Apps such as Storehouse (free; iOS) and Magisto (free; Android, iOS) turn your existing photos and videos into multimedia stories—no work required. For a no-fuss time-lapse film, try Instagram’s new Hyperlapse (free; iOS).

Tom Samiljan is Travel + Leisure’s Tech Correspondent.