Slo-Mo on the Cheap

Slo-Mo on the Cheap

Jason Borger | Tuesday, 23 February 2016

I am a big fan of slow-mo video for gaining a better understanding of fly casting. I shot every image for my new casting book using slow-mo HD video. After shooting, I picked the most appropriate frame(s) to serve as the basis for my illustrations. Even a few years ago, I would have needed to buy or rent a specialized camera to shoot such video. Now, though, I can shoot 1080p (“normal” HD these days) at 120 frames-per-second, and 720p at 240 frames-per-second. The age of quality consumer slow-mo is here, and it comes in the form of smartphones.

With that in mind, I’m going to share my own take on a “quick and cheap” casting camera rig. Nothing surprising here, but maybe one or two things that might make a difference for you in your own slow-mo shoots.

Here it is:

Phone. I shoot with iPhone 6/6S. But, you don’t need an iPhone, the Android world has slow-mo choices, too. Don’t go cheap, get at least 64GB of storage. Slow-mo video eats gigabytes like candy.

Tripod. I shoot off a Manfrotto with a Bogen pistol grip head. No need to go to that level, though. Just get a tripod that’s not a piece of junk. If it feels rickety to you, then it probably is. Spend a few extra bucks to get a decent set of legs that will bring the head up as high as your face. A basic head will do the trick, no need to drop a paycheck on something that’s overkill. 

Glif. It’s how to get your phone on your tripod. Simple, cheap, does what it says on the tin. I’ve been a customer since day one. Here:

External power source. One of these works well:

I like the carabiner since I can just clip it onto my tripod sling and roll all day without adding bulk to the phone (and potentially not having it fit in the Glif).

A ladder. This is how you get the “almost drone” shots. As with tripods, don't buy a rickety piece of junk . You need stability so you get up-and-down a lot without the thing wiggling all over the place. You also need a decent platform on which to lean a tripod. I like this one:

If you shoot on really rough ground, you may want to step up to something more exotic, with individually adjustable bits.

Shooting software. You can shoot with the built-in camera app, which often does the trick. If you want more ticks, though, check out the app stores of the world. I like this app as one option:

Editing software. You can edit in-phone, although I often find it quicker on the desktop. Since I’m on a Mac, I view in QuickTime and edit in iMovie (both free) or Final Cut Pro X (which is not free). I you’re running Windows, there are other options, of course, including the high-end Adobe Premiere. Remember that you may need to change your software settings to play back the video at the desired, slower frame rate, not at “normal” speed.

And for future reference, this is looking like it could have potential:

Shoot away!