Protective case: A case will help protect the delicate glass screen of your phone if you drop it.
Screen protector: A heavy-duty screen protector will also protect the phone screen and reduce the risk of cracks and scratches.
Cleaning cloth: The soft cloths used to clean eye glasses are great for removing dust and fingerprints. Clean the lens every time you use your phone to shoot videos or take photos.
There’s nothing worse than arriving at an interview or filming location to discover you’re out of battery. Keep an external charger or power bank in your mojo kit bag for topping up battery power on the move.
Tripod: Using a tripod will give you stable video footage and sharper photos. The tripod doesn’t need to support a heavy TV camera or DSLR, so an inexpensive lightweight tripod will give great results.
Monopods and selfie sticks: A monopod is a good alternative to a tripod, especially one of the models with spreadable feet. A high quality option is the Manfrotto 560B1.
Tripod mount: To attach your smartphone to a tripod or monopod, you’ll need a tripod mount. There’s a screw mount at the base to attach your mount to any standard tripod. The Shoulderpod S1 offers excellent quality, but there are also less expensive generic mounts like the Sevenoak SK-PSC1.
Grip: A ‘grip’ allows you to attach your smartphone with an external lens, a microphone and light, and move around as you film. They can be attached to a tripod or carried handheld. Unlike a gimbal, a grip does not provide any stabilisation if used handheld. Popular brands include Beastgrip and Helium.
Gimbal: A gimbal is not a mojo essential, but can be useful. A gimbal combines a smartphone mount with a motorized grip. It keeps the phone camera pointing at an object being filmed while you move around. Many gimbal mounts cover the phone’s microphone socket, so you may need to record audio using a second phone or external recording device. Popular brands include DJI, Zhiyun, and LanParte. The LanParte HG-01 does not obscure the microphone socket.
Clip microphones – also known as lapel or lavalier microphones – are ideal for recording interviews in noisy or windy areas. The microphone attaches to your interviewee’s clothing, and the other end plugs into your phone.
Widely used microphones include the Rode Smartlav and the Boya BY-M1. These microphones have a 3.5mm jack, so if you are on an iPhone 7 and above, you will need to connect these microphones to the 3.5mm to lightning adaptor that is supplied with the phone on purchase. You can also buy clip microphones with lightning jacks – like the Sennheiser Clip Mic – so you needn’t rely on an adaptor.
Smartphone headsets: If you find yourself in the field without an external microphone, the microphone on your mobile phone headset can also record good quality audio.
Clip microphone dual adaptor: If you want to record more than one person – for a two-person interview, for example – you will need two clip microphones. These can be plugged into a dual adaptor like the Rode SC6 or – if you want to control the recording level of each microphone independently – you can use a smartphone audio mixer like the Saramonic SmartMixer.
Extension cords: For medium shots or for filming from a distance greater than one meter, you should plug your clip-microphone into an extension cord like the Rode SC1. This extension cord works with both Rode Smartlav and Boya BY-M1 microphones.
Handheld microphones: Handheld microphones are ideal for recording interviews, pieces to camera, and for recording ‘natural sound’. One end plugs in to your smartphone, and the other is attached to the microphone, which you hold in your hand. Popular brands include Rode, iRig, Sennheiser and Apogee. To protect from wind noise, buy a foam windshield to cover the microphone.
Wireless recording: For recording at a significant distance, or if your subject is moving around, you may wish to invest in a wireless smartphone microphone set. Your interviewee wears a microphone connected to a transmitter, and the receiver is connected to your smartphone. Handheld options include the Rode NewsShooter. Another option is the Samson Go Mic Mobile, a wireless system that can connect two microphones (clip or handheld) at once, and works on USB C, Micro USB, 3.5mm and lightning.
‘Two-take’ audio: An alternative to extension cords and wireless systems is to use a second phone. Plug a clip-microphone into it and ask your interviewee to put this second phone in their pocket and attach the microphone to their clothing.
This allows you to record their voice as you film from a distance with your primary phone. The two recordings can be matched up during the editing process.
You can also use try a MikMe – an external recorder for iPhones which links automatically via Bluetooth.
Natural light: Filming or taking photographs outdoors give excellent results without external lights. When filming, lock exposure to prevent automatic changes to the exposure if, for example, a cloud covers the sun, as this is distracting for the viewer. If you are filming indoors, try to film near a window that allows in plenty of natural light.
Artificial lights: Companies that make lights specifically for smartphone video include Lume Cube, iBlazr and Manfrotto. Some tripod mounts have a cold-shoe at the top to attach an external light. You can also use free-standing lights or soft-boxes to light an interviewee, as you would with a television camera. A useful and inexpensive light source is the iBlazr2, a wireless LED flash light. It works on all devices and can be paired via bluetooth.
A wide range of telephoto, wide and macro external lenses for smartphones are now available from manufacturers like Olloclip, Exolens, Moment and Moondog. These typically attach to the phone via an external mount or with a clip that snaps onto the phone, and some brands allow you to attach ND filters.
You don’t need to spend big to work as a professional mojo. You are already well-equipped if you have a tripod, a mount and an external microphone and an extension cable along with your smartphone.
Extra equipment can be useful, but adding external lights, lenses, grips and gimbals is not only more expensive, it makes you also less mobile.
Rather than buying extensive equipment when you’re starting out, we recommend you buy a basic kit, and invest in specialised equipment that helps you do your job as you go along.