Mobile Messing

There's a strong and still growing trend toward shooting films of all types, cinema/corporate/doc etc, on the humble smartphone. Perhaps the best known recent example of this (and feel free to call me out with a better known example) is 'Tangerine', trailer below.

Hypereal colour, leftfield story and all shot on an iPhone 5, (sound recorded separately). Since then, there have been numerous others released, some of which take it to another level. Check out some examples here.

Clearly, this gets you thinking. Why not shoot on an iPhone (other smartphones are available) rather than the thousands of pounds worth of kit you'd normally have to shoot stuff like this? Well, that's what we thought. But, having just sunk some cash into another lens, some lights (more on that in a later post) and the short film 'Stop:Watch', we didn't have much left over to get the latest in smartphone cinematography. We went cheap. Hey, it's Indie folks! Use what you have, not what you think you need, right?

So we had a look at what's available. A lot. There's a lot of stuff out there to make your smartphone movies look like a Hollywood blockbuster. Lenses, rigs, gimbals etc. You could actually spend almost as much on this stuff as you would with a decent DSLR. We spent £50.

What did we get for that?

Some plastic. A Klyp case that you squeeze your iPhone into. A smartphone holder that fits to a tripod, and some lenses. Manfrotto lenses. Are they glass? Dunno. For £30, probably not. 

We haven't used them yet, at least for filming, but here's a couple of shots to show what the lenses can do to a standard phone camera shot.

 Director Joe- normal iPhone shot

Director Joe- normal iPhone shot

 Same shot with Manfrotto 'Landscape' lens.

Same shot with Manfrotto 'Landscape' lens.

 Same again with Manfrotto 'Portrait' lens

Same again with Manfrotto 'Portrait' lens

 And again with Manfrotto 'Fisheye' lens.

And again with Manfrotto 'Fisheye' lens.

As you can see, Director Joe had had enough by the end of this wee test. And who can blame him? Anyway, why we need to be told which lens is for what purpose is beyond me. If you only have a portrait lens, doesn't mean you can only shoot portraits. Lens categories aside, you can see there are some interesting issues with the lenses.

Standard iPhone shot is okay so you can see the colour shifts in the other lenses, mostly a greenish tinge with 'Landsacpe', yellow(?) in the 'Portrait' image and back to green in the 'Fisheye'. Exposures are all over the place as the angle of view brings in different features such as light source. There also seems to be a touch more contrast in the images through the added lenses.

Would we shoot a short film with this set up? Why not. There are a plethora of film festivals catering to this 'genre', personal favourite of which is MoMo Film Fest, started by the fiercely determined Andrea Holle. One of these days we'll shoot a film on the iPhone to enter this awesome festival. Till then...