Australian filmmaker Sam Evans shares his tips and tricks to shooting professional-standard video on the brand new Galaxy S20.
By: Sam Evans
Hey all – I want to give a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who watched my Galaxy S20 video shown at Unpacked this year. As a filmmaker from Australia, it was such an honor to be invited onto a global stage and share my work to such a diverse audience. I was super grateful for the opportunity to collaborate and the Samsung team really went out of their way to help me fulfill my vision.
Since Unpacked, I’ve had a lot of people reaching out inquiring how I got both the quality and types of shots shown from a phone - they couldn’t believe that a smartphone could produce such professional results. And to be honest, out the gate, I too was skeptical, unsure if we’d be able to achieve anything of quality by shooting an entire video solely on a phone. But I love a challenge and dove in – and I’m so glad I did because the results were phenomenal. That’s why I’m writing today, to pull back the curtain and share my experiences to help you get the most out of your Galaxy S20.
Tip 1: Don’t be afraid to use natural light
Studio and mobile camera lights are great tools for controlled environments, but in a pinch the Galaxy S20 has plenty of features to make the most of natural light. We used it to our advantage on our helicopter ride, using the warm glow effect from the sunset to set the tone for the video. (Having a helicopter helped too = ). We had three S20s in the helicopter and were able to experiment on how to shoot in different lighting. Two of us used handheld rigs and one shot on a gimbal so we could achieve those movie quality transition shots, although the S20 Super Steady feature is amazing on its own. You really could shoot a full feature with that set up.
Sunsets also provide natural, long shadows that can completely change the mood of your footage. And with the Galaxy S20’s Bright Night mode, filming can go longer into the evening in low light conditions without losing any of the fine details in your shots.
Tip 2: Use zoom to add perspective to your setting
Zooming in and out adds a more professional flare to your videos and helps set context for storytelling. I was inspired by all the colorful doors and entryways in San Francisco and knew I needed a zoom-in montage of them to add to the video. The Galaxy S20 achieved these cools shots thanks to its incredible zoom capabilities! For photos you can get up to 100x zoom and videos up to 30x zoom depending on the resolution you’re shooting at with the S20 Ultra. Use the zoom to guide your audience. For instance, focus on a specific building or spot in the city and slowly zoom out to show the whole cityscape. This will help set the subject of your video into the wider context of a scene and bring new meaning to a shot. Plus, the Galaxy S20 has preset zoom options so you can quickly get to the ideal level with a tap of the screen.
Tip 3: Time is your friend
Time lapse shots are versatile and can achieve a number of different effects. They’re perfect transitions to show the passage of time and they just look flat out cool. For our video we decided to try out the time lapse Night mode and it worked brilliantly. Like Bright Night, this option takes advantage of the Galaxy S20’s huge camera sensors so the final footage is brighter and clearer than ever. This was easily one of my favorite shots of the video. We were so surprised by all the different time lapse effects we were able to create with the S20 and spent a lot of time trying different set ups, light saturation and movements to provide a variety of effects – and I encourage you to do the same.
Now I will admit that I couldn’t have made this incredible video without the help from some of my close friends and photography experts. I’d like to thank local San Francisco photography legend Marc Donahue, who helped me plan out all 14 shot locations. I also leaned on my buddy Mathew Vanderputte, a Belgium-born, Sydney-based photographer known for his time-lapse skills, and the fine folks at VerifiedWorks for shooting and post help. The 5am starts and after midnight wraps were well worth it!
After this experience I can say I’m truly excited to spend more time with the Galaxy S20 and see how I can work it in to my everyday filmmaking. The fact that I can leave my heavy equipment at home and shoot on a device that fits in my pocket is game-changing. The S20 turned this skeptic into a believer – and the proof is in the pudding – or the footage in this case.