iOS iPhones News Smartmoviemakers, , , , , , — February 14, 2012 23:25 — 0 Comments

Filming on an iPhone: what you need to know

iphone 4

The iPhone 4 attached to a Canon 7D via a Steadicam Merlin. Photo:

My recent article for the Guardian Lights, action … iPhone? Film-makers turn to smartphones generated a huge amount of interest, comment and debate on whether making a movie on a mobile phone is a viable option.

Many of the comments were dismissive of the notion, while some commentators could appreciate the fact that smartphones are the way to go, especially as more models are being fittedwithhigh-end8mega-pixelto 12mp optical lenses, that at least bring them up to standard of some digital cameras.

Overall, my article revealed a lack of appreciation that a new wave of cinematography is already here and it was possible to shoot good quality video with a smartphone – and with a little film-schoolnousand a few extra pieces of kit, even make a short film,  or in some cases a full-lengthfeatureas in the case of Olive, filmed on a Nokia N8.

While matching the quality of some digital cameras, the other advantage of a smartphone is that you always carry it with you, so you can film almost anywhere because it’s a flexible and unobtrusive piece of kit.

Sure, you may need to attach lenses and add all kinds of gizmos or apps to your iPhone for a proper shoot, but the cost of hiring a digital camera is no longer necessary as your smartphone will do the job, and it is this fact that many people are not getting.

Filming on a smartphone makes the process more affordable. It is possible to set up an iPhone as a principal camera with a 35mm lens – but you can then enable the cast, crew, friends, otherfilm-makerson the set to shoot extraneous footage for different angles and lenses.

For more information on how to adapt your smartphone read The iPhone 4 as a Filmmaking Tool.

With a little skilful editing and includingotherpost-productionqualities,  your video should turn out pretty damn good, so what’s the hold up?

In her article for, Chandra Steele has written a useful guide to independent film-making from a general perspective that is worth reading and bookmarking if you want to know how to get started.

“Digital camcorders dismantled the industry structure, giving virtually everyone the equipment to be a film-maker. Today, there are more digital camcorder options than ever but even those seem as passe as Munblecore, with phones taking up the flag of the digital revolution,” she writes.

At the recent Macworld | iWorld event, the iphone Film Festival gave a big screen presentation of films shot on the iPhone that was an eye opener to many in the audience who had no idea you could use iOS devices such as iPad and iTouch as well as the iPhone to produce short films.

Once you have made a film there are lots of mobile film festivals you can submit your film in for valuable recognition and exposure, and who knows it may just be the start of something big. Look at Majek Pictures, who made their first short film, Apple of My Eye, on an iPhone. They were also included in the Emmy longlist last year for another mobile production, the Goldilocks series.

Leeds-basedfilm-makerDanny Lacey, whom I interviewed for the Guardian article, says: “I can’t see smartphones being the go to technology for filming mainstream film or TV in the near future. That’s not to say they won’t be used to shoot a more stylised look in some scenes etc.

“The writing has been on the wall for 35mm film for some time now and with the huge advances in digital technology its demise is inevitable.

“You have to ask yourself, can the normal cinema going public tell the difference between something shot on film versus digital?  I’d stick my neck out and say nine out of 10 times they wouldn’t. It’s cheaper to shoot on digital and the workflow in post is smoother. You do the math.”

Danny says that for his film work he has shot on a S16mm on the ARRI SR3, RED EPIC at full 5k resolution and even HDV when he was starting out.

“The great thing about smartphone camera technology is it givesnewfilm-makersthe ability to get out there and make films, “ he says.

“No more excuses. Maybe now we’ll see more innovation fromnewfilm-makers, bypassing the urge to set-upa crowdfunding campaign to raise thousands of pounds for something that could be shot on no budget with a smartphone?

“I’m sure the quality of cameras built in to smartphones will improve significantly over the next few years to maybe even compete with the DSLR market, giving the Canon 7D a run for its money?”

But whatever format you shoot in, one thing that should never be compromised, says Danny, is the story.

“Sometimes, we’re a little guilty of getting wrapped up in camera technology. Often missing the essential and most important part of any film – story. Deliver a compelling story and the viewer will be more forgiving when it comes to quality of picture. Good news when it comes to using smartphones!”

This is just the beginning, the early adopters have showed us what is possible to achieve on a smartphone in terms of video. Everyone agrees that film is on the way out, as is the model for the way we watch or access movies.

Going to the cinema is still an unbeatable experience and the big screen will always have its attraction, how films get to it is a different matter.


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About the author

Tony Myers has written 866 articles for Smart Movie Making

Fooling around with the iPhone since 2010. Taking it to the next web by writing about new media, new technology, new wave cinema and the digital revolution.

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