I just wrote a post about YouTube and companies using it to post exclusive content and quite frankly it is a mess. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to make what I wrote into something coherent but today is not that day. Instead I’d like to share a few videos that Apple made to promote the iPhone.
I write about the iPhone often and I think part of the reason why is how appealing it seems to use them to make films. I italicized seems because in actual practice I find it to be more difficult when I try and use them like a proper camera. For quickly getting some clips of my kids messing about it’s a great thing to have. My phone can capture video and audio and I can do a fair bit to make the quality decent. It’s when I try and replicate what I would do with my actual camera that I tend to become frustrated and annoyed.
Back to the films though. The first I watched today is made by none other than Emmanuel Lubezki. Which is honestly why I watched the video in the first place. To see that he has been filming with the iPhone 12 Pro (and that they made a behind the scenes commercial from this) is really interesting. Here it is –
So it’s hardly surprising that one of the greatest cinematographers created stunning images for this video. His commentary about the technology and how the size and ease of use frees him up and allows him to get the shots he wants is seductive. I won’t lie, by the time the video ended I was checking to see how much the new phone is and how much I can get for my current model.
After some quiet reflection my head cooled a bit and I remembered, among other things, my post about the Moment Anamorphic Lenses where I went through the actual cost of all the things needed to use an iPhone as a proper camera. It’s not a terrible idea but it is also not a cheap and easy one, either. Which is what made me realize I’d rather invest that $700 in what I already have than try and add another camera option to my life.
To be specific about what I would do with that money: I have two areas where my current equipment is lacking, sound and lighting. I have a bit of each but what I have is slapdash and incomplete. As someone who would like to film fairly standard, sit-down interviews, I am missing some crucial pieces of equipment. Case in point, I do not own a boom pole or a microphone that doesn’t attach to a camera (aside from the Rode Wireless Go which is another story). Enter the following videos from Deity Microphones.
What is attractive about each of these videos is they are offering solutions at reasonable prices. Are they using the best equipment available? Not even close. Do I need the best equipment available? I think we all know the answer to that.
So after watching these two videos I see several items I can purchase that will let me use my existing equipment and have a better/improved audio interview set up. Not only that but each video demonstrates techniques to use with the equipment which I find terribly helpful. Which is not to besmirch Mr. Lubezki but his video does little to show you how he’s using the iPhone to capture those wonderful images (you can see he uses a gimbal and Filmic Pro). It’s so helpful, especially with unfamiliar technology, when people show you how to use whatever the thing is.
Lighting is a bit of a different story as I know what the default lighting answer is (up until a week ago) – everyone said get the Aputure 120d mkII but it’s a $750 light that still needs a soft box that sells for $220. Last week Aputure released four new lights which are all substantially less expensive than the 120d but I honestly have no idea if they are what I need and the total cost is around $300 for the cheapest light. At this point I will stick with my strange Neewer light that I’ve used once.
I have digressed. The other iPhone video I watched today was this –
I remember when this was released because everyone was talking about it. I didn’t watch because I don’t really care about vertical cinema. It’s weird and unnecessary and I honestly don’t see the value of it. When it was used in season one of Homecoming it had a purpose but I’m not sure that the payoff mattered all that much. Maybe I’m just a curmudgeon.
I did watch this until the end and it’s a nice film. It’s a interesting film in that the story it tells is a history of stunt people in Hollywood and given that I watch the Stunt People React series from Corridor Crew (new episode out today!) –
I found myself connecting with this material more than I thought I would have.
So to try and bring this all back together, considering buying a new phone, actually buying some new audio gear and trying to lean more about lights – I find myself in the seemingly never-ending mindset of learning and thinking about film gear. It’s not a bad place but it’s not a rewarding one, for me, either. At the end of the day I know that getting a great light or using a mediocre one is not that big of a deal for me. The reason for this is because I am happiest just using the light from a window or being outside (at the moment). I’m not fussy and I’m not a perfectionist and often if I can do something easily (regarding filming) that’s the way I want to do it.
I don’t have a project that I am working on, I don’t have a budget for this non-existent project and I don’t have people to hire and help me with it. It’s just me. I’m flying my new drone and learning how to walk with my gimbal and largely I am shooting test footage to try and not be terrible with what I have.
I love this notion of new technology solving problems and a smaller camera freeing people up to capture whatever it is they imagine. When I see what people actually do, though, like with Chivo’s video, it’s just a woman in the desert walking around. I can do that (without the desert) whenever I like. I think most of us can do some version of that. YouTube is full of people doing some version of that. (I am certain he shot a film with much more than that, his video is full of different scenes in locations. I was trying to stress that so much of what people do with all this great new technology is a slow motion montage of making coffee and no one needs to spend money they don’t have to create one of these)
If there is a positive message I am trying to impart with all of this it’s that I’m looking to connect with other people and try and tell interesting and meaningful stories. Obsessing over having 10 bit log footage in my phone or whether I need daylight balanced or bi-color lights all seems like secondary stuff that ends up becoming what my mind fixates on and this bothers me. Pre-pandemic and especially now I find it so hard to connect with other people with similar interests and if there is a problem I have that needs a solution that’s it. The quality of the footage I shoot is a distant second.