Mastering The Bokeh Effect

Jul 1, 2022

How to get the blurred background on any smartphone device

I am often asked how to shoot with a blurred background or the bokeh effect as it is called on a smartphone device. You have probably used it to create great stills if you shoot with your smartphone in portrait mode, and you may want to do this when shooting video content, so here are some handy bokeh tips.

Utilising a blurred background is a great tool when you are shooting vlog content from home, and you need to post a video chat up fast. Don’t worry if your home office background is far from ideal, and you don’t have the perfect bookshelf, shooting with bokeh can be a real time saver!


The Focos Live app for iphones is tried and tested by my team and is really popular right now. It costs £12 ($17). This app blurs your background nicely, not quite as well as it would if you were shooting on a DSLR camera, but currently this is the best app out there for creating bokeh on your iphone. Focos Live utilises “depth data” on both your front and rear cameras to create a live portrait mode effect with video. You simply shoot and then adjust the aperture size in the app’s edit feature, so you can choose how blurry you want your background to be. It works best if you are sitting still, you may find it is not 100% reliable with movement. You do have to record your video through the Focos app and right now, it won’t let you add a bokeh effect to your wide angle lens.


If you don’t have an iphone and bokeh is something that you really want to explore, when you next upgrade you may want to think about choosing a Samsung device. The Samsung Live focus video button allows you to blur out your background in real time and Samsung have added a live focus button to their Galaxy S21 series, S20, S20+ S20 Ultra and Z Flip models.

Live focus video is a feature that works on both the rear and front cameras, allowing you to blur any scene that is behind you or an interviewee. You can swap between foreground and background focus with ease, just switch up the focus with a tap. You just open the camera app, swipe to Live focus video and adjust the blur to suit your preference, shifting the mood of your video as you shoot.


If you are on an android device, you can try shooting with your inbuilt telephoto lens, or if your device does not have one, you can get a clip on lens from around £14 ($20). The key is to shoot you or your interviewee close to the camera and choose a background that has a good depth of field. You can’t get the blur if you are sat right up against a wall or in a tight spot. The bigger the distance between you and the background, the better the blur. Make sure you tap or long press on your screen to set your focus setting on your subject or interviewee.


Creating The Bokeh Effect with your Smartphone

You can also download the Filmic Pro app £11 ($15) available for both android and iphone devices which gives you a ton of new ways to bump up your smartphone settings and the best chance of getting the blur. If you are looking to buy one app that will turn your smartphone settings into those of a DSLR camera, then this is the one – highly rated by all my team for simplicity and value for money.

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