20 Apps and Gadgets For Journalists on the GoBy Yael Grauer April 15th, 2014
If you’re looking to cover an event directly from the field, chances are good that you don’t want to invest in — or lug around — all the stuff you’d find in a TV news van: a video camera, camera, tripod, laptop, multiple microphones, a fat guy eating cold pizza, etc.
On the other hand, taking shaky videos with poor audio from your Smartphone isn’t ideal, either. Luckily, you can get the best of both worlds without breaking the bank.
If you’re looking for stable video and great sound while shooting on your iPhone or iPad, VideoProCamera ($4.99) is the app for you. You’ll need an iPhone 4S or 5, or an iPad 3 for the really great features, which allow you to listen to the audio on headphones in real-time (an inexpensive wireless stick mic or lav mic is recommended).
You can also control the speed in which you zoom in and out. There’s a great stabilization feature in case you don’t have a tripod handy, and you can even adjust the brightness and lock exposure.
Alternative option: FiLMiC Pro ($4.99).
Camera Zoom FX ($2.99) is a fast (up to 20 shots per second), award-winning Android app. It’s fast, customizable, and loaded with settings—and post-processing features. If you own a Samsung Galaxy 3, it makes the smartphone’s famously powerful camera even better.
If you have an iPhone, but the internal camera is lacking in features, other options include Camera+ ($1.99), which has clarity and level checks, as well as focus and exposure options, and ProCamera ($4.99), which also has an anti-shake mode. MagicHour ($1.99) is a fun app that provides filters for both Android and iPhone.
Stabilizers and tripods
Woxom’s SlingShot ($19.95, with free shipping) is a cradle that will keep any mobile phone stable with just one hand. It’s easy to mount on any tripod. JOBY’s flexible Gorillapod tripods are a perpetual favorite.
Alternatives: An L-bracket for your phone (available for under $10) can also help keep your camera stable.
You can’t share super short clips with the iMovie app ($4.99), but it makes reviewing, sharing or even saving clips extremely easy. (It’s available on iPhone 5 and newer, and 4th generation or newer iPads, as long as you have an iCloud account). It also allows you to add slow motion and split-screen effects, customize logos and credits, and create a soundtrack with music, narration and sound effects. You can even publish directly to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, or CNN iReport.
Other editing options include ReelDirector ($1.99), another iPhone/iPad app, and Google Video Editor (free for Android). There’s even a YouTube app — just don’t use the stabilization feature, which will lower the quality of your video.
FX Studio Pro ($19.99) is loaded with all of the filters, special effects and editing tools you could ask for — all for a very affordable price. Filterstorm Neue ($3.99) is another quality option in a lower price range.
The Rode video mic ($149 and up), along with an adapter cable (around $25), will help improve your sound quality. A cable with a headphone jack is also a good investment.
Soundcloud (free) is perfect if you’re looking to engage readers by embedding audio clips directly into your story. Go nuts running around recording creaking doors or honking horns on your Android or iPhone. Your readers can click on hyperlinks to hear the actual sound you recorded.
If you’re shooting videos or snapping photos, you’ll need to get a release form signed in order to be able to use them. This mRelease ($1.99) is an iPhone app that will let you pull up that form and have your interviewees sign with their finger directly on your phone.
If you are using an external camera, getting photos or videos to your phone can be as simple as putting an Eye-fi card ($49.99 – $99.99) in your camera, downloading the free app on your phone, entering an activation code and taking photos. It’s compatible with iPhone, Android and Kindle.
Other options include a number of services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Box.com, BitTorrent Sync, Amazon Cloud Drive, SugarSync and more. You can also share videos via FTP. Or, send videos and photos via PhotoSync ($2.99). Just don’t email them, as the videos will compress and lose quality.
Contact your phone company to get set up to use your phone as a hotspot, or consider a pay-as-you-go provider like Karma ($99 plus $14 per 1GB).
Can’t get through a police line but want to see what’s going on? You may not have your own personal helicopter, but you can have your own Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 ($299.95), a quadricopter you can control with your iPhone or iPod. Get high definition photos and videos recorded during flight, and share them directly onto YouTube and Picasa.
Image via Samiatay