With all the awesome hardware upgrades in recent years, iPads can do more than ever before. Considering all the great features coming to iPadOS this year and the beastly processing power, we can confidently say this — you can easily shoot an entire movie on an iPad in 2023. So even if you don’t own a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you can still shoot a great film with an iPad today.
And we don’t mean just shoot; you can edit, publish, and promote it! Keep reading for more details.
Why Use an iPad?
So you might be wondering — why would we recommend an iPad, not an iPhone or Android? The answer is convenience. With an iPad Pro, for example, you can shoot, edit, and share online using a single device. It’s incredibly easy to use an iPad as a workstation.
Another reason we recommend the iPad Pro in 2023 is the quality of the cameras on it. The 2021 iPad Pro lets you shoot 4K footage at 60 fps (frames per second), plus it features gyro-EIS (electronic image stabilization). And that’s not all; you can also shoot cinematic slow-motion footage at 240 fps and include it in your film.
As for editing, it’s going to be easy peasy. Thanks to the powerful M1 chipset, the new iPad Pros can breeze through heavy editing sessions and render files pretty quickly. As a result, many video professionals are slowly switching to the iPad for their editing needs, forcing software devs to level up their apps.
Have we mentioned the battery life yet? The iPad is perfect for long editing sessions as the battery keeps going. Also, with fast charging, it’s up and ready for the next round by the time you are.
Is it all coming together in your head already? Good! Read on for more instructions!
Plan Your Shoot
We’re going to assume that you already know a bit about filmmaking. You will need to know a few basics, like good shot composition, knowing how to tell a story, and deciding what music to use.
If you’re just starting out, here’s a list of steps to get you ready to shoot your first film in 2023!
Write a script
People think writing a script is a bit much, but you will thank yourself later. Even if you’re just going to do a short video about a tourist attraction, restaurant, or product, sit down and write that script.
We recommend it because creative ideas most often cross your mind during the scriptwriting stage. As you begin writing, your imagination will take you through various stages, and you will realize that there’s a lot you can do.
You can use an iPad app like Notes, but we recommend using GoodNotes or Notability if you want more flexibility.
So regardless of whether you’re making a movie about your favorite toy or the next installment of the Star Wars franchise, we recommend you write a good script!
Choose a location
The location can make or break your film. That’s why production houses have people constantly scout for and prepare locations for shoots. We recommend you do the same!
Visit a location and get a good idea of how it looks. Then, shoot some test footage to check how it looks on your screen. Also, use this opportunity to check if there is sufficient lighting and calculate how many hours of good light you have (depending on whether you want to shoot a sunrise or sunset scene or if you want to shoot a lot of footage in daylight).
You can consider an app like Cadrage to help you plan things while scouting locations. Professional camera crews typically use it as the app helps you overlay camera models and lenses. It also gives you frame previews so the production team can better plan shotlists.
It might be overkill, but we say go for it!
Plan the shots
A shot list is critical to ensure you get all the necessary footage. Also, writing down the shots will provide clarity on the film’s flow and how it will all come together. It also helps you plan when to shoot each shot — things can change depending on lighting or crowds in popular places.
To plan shots, you can use an app like Shot Designer, which is amazing at helping you visualize set layouts for shoots. It’s got a ton of features that will make you feel like a seasoned director, like animated previews, shotlists, storyboards, and more. If you opt for the Pro version, you also get the Mac/PC version for free.
Invest in shoot gear
Getting a good camera is usually the most critical part of renting/buying gear for a shoot. However, since you’re all good in that department thanks to your iPad, you just need to consider other gear you may need.
So go through your script and see if you need equipment like additional lights and lavalier microphones. In a pinch, you can also use a handheld recorder. They are great at capturing sound, but unfortunately, they may pick up ambient noise as well.
Another use for your iPad is as a gimbal, slider or lighting controller. Plenty of camera and audio equipment manufacturers have iPad apps (for example — Sidus Link, AsteraApp, or iFootage) that work seamlessly with their products, so depending on what gear you get, we recommend you Google for the brand’s iPad apps. Believe us when we say that you’re in for a pleasant surprise!
Additionally, get a tripod for your iPad. You can also consider getting props or using a drone. Go big or go home!
Shooting Videos on iPad
Finally, things are getting exciting!
So now your script is ready, the day has arrived, and you’re ready to shoot on your iPad. Just a heads up, you can also shoot on your iPhone and transfer the footage to your iPad if you like. iPhones offer optical image stabilization (OIS), which tends to stabilize footage slightly better. That said, you can still get some impressive results out of the iPad Pro!
You can shoot with the native Camera app or use third-party apps. We lined up a few options you can consider.
Without a doubt, the best video recording app that we can give recommend today is Filmic Pro. You’ll be delighted to learn that multiple prominent filmmakers have used this app, and some projects even went on to win awards!
What makes Filmic great is the amount of control you get over the video recording process. You can fine-tune the exposure, focus, frame rate, and much more with the app. In addition, there are tons of presets and thoughtful features like monitoring support, gamma curve controls, Dolby Vision HDR support, cloud backup, etc.
And if you plan to shoot with your iPhone, it even supports ProRes. Filmic Pro also works with gimbals from DJI, Zhiyun, and FreeFly.
Filmic Pro is priced at $14.99.
The app’s developers, Cocologics, sure wanted to get directly to the point when they named this app. And we appreciate it! ProCamera is another video recording app for the iPad that gives you plenty of control over the footage you shoot.
Priced at $14.99, this app lets you shoot in RAW format (as well as ProRAW, if you wish to shoot on your iPhone instead). Like Filmic, this app also lets you adjust focus and exposure manually, as well as white balance and tint.
Another thing we loved about the ProCamera app is the support for Apple Watch. This gives you yet another level of control, as you can operate your iPad remotely while handling duties on something else. Of course, it’s ideal if you wish to be in the frame yourself!
This is yet another app that will make your video recording process go exactly how you want it to. The ProMovie Recorder app is free to try, but you have to pay $0.99 to remove the watermark.
Like the previous apps, this app lets you control ISO, shutter speed, focus, exposure, and white balance. It also features an Apple Watch remote app with basic functions, plus you can connect external microphones to your iPad using the Lightning port.
It has a lot of the same tools as the other apps, but one feature we liked, in particular, is that it lets you set separate exposure and focus points. We can definitely think of a few situations where that would be handy!
Video Editing on iPad
We already mentioned earlier that thanks to the processing power of the newer iPads, they’re quickly becoming a serious option for editors to work on. Word on the street is that we will soon see Final Cut Pro migrate to the iPad too!
But until then, we’ve got some excellent editing apps that you can try. These apps are also used by professionals and have most of, if not all, the tools you’d need to push out a masterpiece.
If you’re surprised to see iMovie on this list, don’t be. Built in-house by some of Apple’s best software developers, this app has been evolving for a long time. On the iPad, it works like a charm, and you can edit a movie from start to finish without a hitch.
iMovie, part of iPadOS, flows in a way that third-party apps cannot match. It’s seamless with the rest of the system, which means you can easily import and export files, plus you get access to hundreds of titles, transitions, effects, LUTs, music tracks, and more.
You also get a lot of templates in iMovie that can be pretty useful if you’re a beginner. It lets you plan your project better, and you can quickly check what works and what doesn’t. iMovie also lets you edit videos shot in Cinematic Mode on the latest iPhones with ease.
There are tons of special effects and high‑fidelity filters to choose from, including the fancy green-screen tricks you see on TikTok. And if you want to create a trailer, let the AI of iMovie take over and do it for you. You’re going to be surprised by the results.
Another plus of this being an Apple product is that you can seamlessly move the project between Apple devices — you can add your iPhone and Mac into the filmmaking process with absolute ease. So you can quickly shoot b-roll footage on your iPhone or open the project on your Mac to fine-tune the edits.
The best part? iMovie is free.
We could wrap this list up right now, and you’d be okay because LumaFusion is probably the best iPad app for video editing.
Priced at $29.99, this app has all the bells and whistles that you’d want from an editing app. But it’s not just about offering hundreds of features — the app is highly intuitive and is recommended by professional video editors.
You can edit up to 12 video and audio tracks simultaneously, plus you get many effects, transitions, and LUTs to choose from. LumaFusion is also capable of adding slow/fast motion effects to your clips, as well as forward/reverse effects.
You also get tools like histograms, waveforms, and vectorscopes, with many ways to customize and configure them. Of all the iPad apps we looked at, we found LumaFusion to be the best at color grading/correction. It sure helps that the iPad Pro has such a stunning and color-accurate display!
The best part of LumaFusion is that you can export your project as an FCPXML file, which you can then import to Final Cut Pro on a Mac if you wish to work on it further. LumaFusion also offers a service called Storyblocks for stock footage and audio clips that you can subscribe to for an additional fee.
Adobe Premiere Rush
Adobe makes it difficult to recommend its products because of its business practices, but there’s no denying that Adobe Premiere Rush works beautifully on the iPad. If you’re familiar with Adobe products, this is definitely the one you should go for, as the UI will feel far more familiar to Adobe users.
Like the above apps, Rush has all the features you’d expect from competent video editing software. In addition, you have various LUTs to choose from, a stock library that has pretty much any clip that you’d possibly want, ample transition and title templates, and more.
There are plenty of customizations available as well. You also have animations that you can add to your film. Rush also gives you plenty of control over the audio and considering how critical the sound quality is to a film, you’ll definitely be grateful for it!
While the app can be downloaded for free, you’ll need a premium plan to actually use it, which costs $9.99 a month.
Publish Your Film
Now that your film is ready, all you need to do is design a good poster and thumbnail for it. Here too, your iPad makes your job easier as you can use Procreate, Pixelmator, or Affinity (prices range from $4.99 to $19.99) to get the job done. You could even use Canva.
Next, it’s time to publish your content and promote it. You can upload your film to a site like YouTube or Vimeo. We also recommend you make trailers in portrait mode that you can use on social media apps like Instagram and TikTok. It is important to promote your film, so make sure you post to sites like Reddit, Twitter, and Feedly to get a conversation going.
It’s so amazing that all this is possible in 2023, using just an iPad. We weren’t kidding when we said it’s all you need to be a filmmaker today!