How to save YouTube Video and Other Documents to your iPhone

I recently received this question which I have been asked a few times on workshops.

‘Hiya. Could you suggest a quick way of downloading a YouTube video on a private account to my camera roll to allow me to use in a LumaFusion project’.

Here is one solution: Download a copy of Readdle Documents. This allows you to download files from the web. Then in the Readdle Documents built in browser go to www.savefrom.net and paste in the URL of the video. It will then allow you to select the quality you want and download. Save the downloaded file to your camera roll. Job done!

Readle Documents is a really useful app to have on your iPhone as it allows you to save and manage all types of files.

Android phones do not have the same download restrictions as iOS, so you can simply use the www.savefrom.net link in your browser and download the video.

This should only be used on private accounts or where you have permission to download the content.

Some Joys and Frustrations with Android

A quick update on my journey into Android! As some of you will know I have been experimenting with using a Samsung S7 Edge phone for Mojo. The good news is that it has opened up loads of new opportunities. I have been doing a lot of experimentation with 360 Video, using the Samsung VR goggles. This also opens up the Oculus platform, which has a lot of exciting potential.

However there have been some frustrations. The Samsung Camera App is excellent in normal light conditions, but in low light really applies too much noise reduction and sharpening. The resulting images just make skin tones look too ‘plastic’. The work around is to shoot Raw, which works fine, but requires post processing. An extra step that I was keen to avoid. The easy solution I thought would be to find an alternative photo app, that gave me more control over my .jpeg work flow. Whilst there are loads available, not all of them are compatible with my hardware and Android version. You soon get the feeling you are a beta tester. Some features work and others are just not available. I suppose it is part of the problem of being an open system with multiple manufactures. Something I never encountered with Apple.

I would be interested in hearing what camera (stills apps) people are using.

Camera FV-5 looked great. However some features including exposure compensation and Touch Exposure just didn’t work.

Open Camera was also interesting until I tried to store my images on an SD card. From then on it just crashed every time I tried to open it.

For video I am using Filmic Pro, which is as good as ever. My Audio recording needs are taken care of by Field Recorder, which has a very professional interface and is a joy to use.

So I suppose the inevitable question will be, do I miss my iPhone? I have to say for 95% of the time I would say no, but choosing apps isn’t as straight forward as on the iOS platform. More devices and more manufacturers means more choice but more potential issues. With Apple you are restricted by the hardware and the whims of one manufacturer, but everything just seems to work out of the box.

The experimenting goes on. I will report back soon!

The iPhone X – Fur Coat and No Knickers –Time to change!

Maybe I should start by explaining the title. In the UK we have a saying ‘Fur Coat no Knickers’, it is used to describe something that looks impressive, but in reality is nothing special. This term for me, pretty much sums up the new iPhone X. Many of the ‘ground breaking’ features, have been available on other phones for almost two years and for a much lower price. The entry model costs £999 in the UK. For many people, a substantial part of their salary!

I am disappointed in Apple, for years it has been the choice of creative people all over the world. The company under Steve Jobs was truly innovative. Their products and software changed the way people worked, in a revolutionary way. However the focus now seems to be on creating fashion/status items and to extract as much money from people as possible. My frustrations started, when they dropped the 3.5mm jack with the introduction of the iPhone 7. Half my sound accessories became redundant, and I had multiple sound sync issues. So I have decided to jump ship and try an Android phone.

Continue reading

What Mojo Isn’t!

I have had a few questions recently about why I haven’t been posting many blog posts about #Mojo (mobile journalism) kit. Well the answer is simple, I don’t think there is a need. For twelve months now we have known, that in the right hands we have the necessary kit and apps to produce very professional news packages. So you might argue that the future looks good! Unfortunately I am not sure that that is the case.

The tech heads have taken over, posts on the forums have become increasingly about the technology that drives the movement, but very little about the most important thing, storytelling.

One of the keys to mobile journalism is that, it is not only produced on mobiles, but also consumed on mobiles. This means we need to explore different ways of getting messages over. I wrote a blog post in January 2015 about how ‘Content Was Key’, but to a large extent this is the area that is being ignored. Recently at a journalism conference the organisers ran a competition asking people to post pictures of their kit, as though this is important. In what other creative industry would we be asked what kit are we using. ‘Hey Leonardo, great painting, but lets have a picture of your paints and brushes’! Another post on a forum featured ’10 Apps to make your Mojo better’. Again we are missing the point, apps will not improve your work, unless you have a compelling story to tell and you are able to engage your audience. In Ken Kobre’s seminal book Video Journalism, he talks about how the viewing habits of modern audiences have changed. He quotes research that shows the viewing habits of people consuming news:

audpers

Research shows that within 10 seconds you will have lost 10% of your audience. By 5 minutes you will only have 10% of your audience left! Time has become a valuable commodity, which as a producer of content you are competing for. It is these issues that need to addressed not what kit you are using.

12 months ago I was really excited about the opportunities that Mojo offers, I still am. It democratises news gathering. There is a huge potential audience. It allows people to tell their own stories. In the right hands it is a powerful tool. But if all we talk about is the technology, we will be guilty of missing an amazing opportunity.

Review of the Inmacus 18mm Wide Angle Lens for the iPhone 6

The Inmacus 18mm, with close up lens +5 and circular polarising filter. Click on all of the images to enlarge.

The Inmacus 18mm, with close up lens +5 and circular polarising filter (Click on all of the images to enlarge).

When I studied documentary photography in the 1980’s, for the first six months we were not allowed to use any lens other than a 50mm. It was a really useful  experience, as it made you think carefully about framing. Eventually we started to experiment with other focal lengths, but to this day I can fairly accurately predict, which lens I need for any given situation. If I am put in the position of only carrying one lens, my preferred focal length for the type of work that I do, is a 28mm.

With the iPhone, I have tended to zoom with my feet, but would have liked to have had a slightly wider focal length than the standard. I did try some experiments with the Olloclip 4-in-1 lens, but to be honest, whilst it’s fun, it softens the edge sharpness too much for my tastes. It does have a distinctive look, similar to a Lomo but it’s not suitable for the type of work I do.

To a large extent, after this experience, I dismissed the idea of using supplementary lenses, until I read a review of the Inmacus 18mm lens. The results looked excellent so when the company recently offered a 50% discount, I ordered one.

The Inmacus 18mm Lens, with included cover.

The Inmacus 18mm Lens, with included cover.

The lens comes in a specific iPhone 6 or 6 Plus mount. Included is the 18mm lens, a +5 close up lens and a circular polarising filter. First impressions are very positive. The lenses all have metal threads, are multicoated and come in a soft bag. It attaches using a unique design. You squeeze the sides of the mount which expand and grip your phone. The upside is that the fit is excellent and very secure, but it does mean that the mount is model specific.
In use, I have to say that the results are excellent. Lets have a look at some practical examples and compare it to the Olloclip I have.

Continue reading

Going Hand Held


Last weekend I videoed a Scooter festival, in my local town of Leek. I used my tripod to capture all of the action. Whilst this gives me a great, steady shot, I do sometimes have worries about people tripping over it. My usual solution is to use a Monopod, or if I want to be very mobile, a monopod into a waist belt.

This works great, but there are occasions when I want something even more compact and a way of mounting other gear, such as a radio mic or an LED light. A discussion on the #mojocon Facebook page, got me thinking about other solutions. I have used a Nikon flat bracket in the past, but it wasn’t the best solution. Bernhard Lill posted a picture of a bracket that looked like it would do the job. I found one on Amazon for £12. Bernhard mentioned that his smelt horrible, but mine doesn’t at all. With a Shoulderpod S1 camera bracket, it works really well. I started off with the handle in my left hand, but this left the audio input on the phone exposed and was a stretch for the TRRS converter (SC4) that I use to connect my Røde VideoMic Pro to my iPhone 6+. By changing everything around and holding the handle in my right hand (the same as I would with a DSLR), the jack into the phone is protected and I can even fit an Røde SC6 if I want to monitor the sound, through headphones. I added the very short handle that comes with the Shoulderpod S1 for extra stability. Continue reading

Leek Scooter Festival 2015 #MOJO Piece

Leek Scooter Festival 17th May 2015. ‘The Mods are Coming!”

Here is a two minute Mobile Journalism video, I created on the iPhone 6+.
Supplementary equipment used included:
* iRig Pro
* Røde Lavalier Mic/Micon Extension cable/Micon 5 XLR Connector
* iRig Mic HD (intro)
* Shoulderpod S1 phone mount
* Tripod
* Filmic Pro App

I was using the new updated version of Filmic Pro (V4.1.1), which was nice. I particularly like the fact that you can now directly save video to the camera roll. However I have noticed that it shows a white opening frame in the finder, instead of an image. Another issue I had was that occasionally I got movement in the frame, from what appeared to be the image stabilisation. I was using a tripod so I just turned it off. This was a quick edit as I wanted to get it out for the people that attended the event. Continue reading

#mojo Battery Power/Charger Options

From left to right: 3. EC Technology / 2. Maxell / 1. Ankar with a pound coin for scale.

From left to right: 3. EC Technology / 2. Maxell / 1. Ankar

It is often said that ‘the best camera you have, is the one that you have with you’. This has been one of the philosophies behind the #mojo Mobile Journalism movement and the growth of using Smartphones for news gathering. The problem is phones now have multiple uses; web surfing, photography, videography and even making phone calls 🙂 so they use a lot of power. All too often the camera you have with you, is sitting in your pocket with a flashing battery warning! With most phone makers electing not to have removable batteries, the answer is to carry a portable charging device. Here are three I use, there are many more options available.

1. Anker 2nd Generation Astro mini 3350mAh Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank. At £9.99 this is cheap as chips and with its small size (87gm) it easily slips into the pocket. It is made of aluminium so feels solid and robust. When I was using an iPhone 5, it would give me one complete charge. It also, easily attaches to my tripod with a velcro strap, so I can use it whilst videoing.

2. Maxell 790404 5200mAh Power Bank Battery. This is a slightly larger unit, weighing 152 gm. It cost £25.16 and with my iPhone 5 gives me just over two full charges. With its aluminium housing, it feels very robust. Again it is small enough to velcro to a tripod so can be used whilst videoing.

3. EC Technology® 2nd Gen Deluxe 22400mAh Ultra High Capacity 3 USB Output External Battery (£28.99). This is a monster weighing in at 476 gm, you could build walls out of these! I bought this for prolonged trips where I do not have access to mains power. I charged my iPhone 5 with it and the battery indicator didn’t move. It will in theory charge an iPhone 4S 13 times!  It has three outputs and has a plastic case, presumably to keep the weight down. This is definitely one for the camera bag and not your pockets! It even has a built in torch!

I have recently bought an iPhone 6 Plus which has much better battery capacity than my iPhone 5, I will post charging figures for both phones when I have more data. Hope that helps! If you have any solutions you would recommend, please let me know.