11 Ways to Get Better Recordings of Holiday Pageants

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Few things in life are more adorable and worthy of their own video recording than your child's first holiday pageant. Even if you’re not an award-winning director, you can still capture great footage on your phone or tablet with the right tech and equipment.

1. Pack a Tripod

Smartphones are getting better at countering the effects of shaking hands, but nothing beats the stability of a tripod. And among tripods, nothing is as portable—or as flexible—as the Gorillapod Mobile. It fits most handsets (without requiring a traditional tripod screw mount), and its arms can stand on end or bend and wrap around railings, seatbacks, or whatever else is handy.

2. Light Your Subject

For smaller video shoots, you can fight the gloom of most indoor lighting conditions with the Pocket Spotlight, an affordable LED light bank that fits into your smartphone's headphone jack. Footage will have a slight blue tint, but that’s an easy fix.

3. Hear Every Note

Even if you account for shaking hands and bad lighting, poor audio can quickly derail your adorable recording. Assuming your headphone jack isn't already powering a spotlight, attach Belkin's directional LiveAction Mic for an instant boost in audio clarity.

4. Bring Along Some Extra Juice

Shooting video can sap your smartphone’s battery—the phone is working hard at both processing data and displaying it on the screen. For anything close to a dedicated video shoot, make sure to pack an external battery. And since a case with a built-in battery might make it impossible to connect a light or mic, go with one that juices the phone via cable, like Anker's Astro2 Slim.

5. Go Wide (Angle)

The lens built into most smartphones has a narrow field of view, forcing you to either back up or swing the phone around you to capture an entire scene. Since both of these options have their drawbacks, try the Olloclip, a snap-on attachment that fits a wide-angle lens over your phone's default optics. Since this is a wide-angle lens rather than a fish eye, it expands your camera's field of vision without distorting the footage.

6. Lock Your Shot

Don't assume that your phone's automatic exposure and focus settings are smarter than you. The default software on most smartphones will allow you to lock the focus on a specific part of the screen to keep the lens from constantly hunting for targets. You can also lock the exposure to avoid clips that are overly light or dark. If those features aren't available, download a dedicated camera app, like FiLMiC Pro.

7. Shoot More Frames

Though some phones can now shoot slow-motion video, what if you don't know ahead of time which footage should be slowed down? The easiest solution is to capture more frames per second (fps). Using your built-in camera app or a third-party option (like Camera Pro 8), switch the default shooting mode to 60 fps to give yourself more to work with in the editing stage.

8. Be More Dynamic

You may already know about high dynamic range (HDR) photos—images that capture the lightest whites, the darkest blacks, and everything in between without over- or underexposing the entire shot. Some newer smartphones can also shoot HDR video, which can improve the look of outdoor shots, particularly when your scene includes both bright and dim subjects and scenery. But for even more extreme HDR results, experiment with the Thalia Live HD/R app, which gives footage an ethereal glow.

9. Go Back In Time

No matter what settings, apps, or gadgets you use, some smartphone videos just don't come out as crisp as you hoped. One solution for spiffing up mediocre footage is to imbue it with a cool retro vibe by running the video through the 8mm Video Camera app to add simulated dust scratches and vintage color processing. This app is so fun, you might wind up applying it to even your best clips.

10. Let An App Edit For You

Now for the time-consuming part: Editing your footage. Apps like Magisto can splice together multiple clips with little to no input. You simply select the footage, pick a theme and music, and Magisto's algorithms do their best to create a visual story.

11. Make A Director's Cut

If you aren't comfortable letting an app cut together your movie, take the reins with Pinnacle Studio, a full-service video editing app from the company that practically invented editing. Pinnacle is best on a tablet, where you can swipe and tap clips together and add music from your personal library.

With Intel® RealSense™ snapshot you’ll be able to refocus high-definition photos after the fact, so you can pay attention to the pageant and not your tablet. Learn more here: intel.com