How Long Until A Feature Length Movie Is Filmed Entirely With Smartphones?

from the we're-getting-there dept

Earlier this year, we wrote about the (very, very cool) publicity stunt pulled by the band Atomic Tom, where they performed one of their songs live on the NYC Subway using only iPhones as instruments. Of course, they also filmed the whole thing with iPhones as well and that’s actually becoming more popular. Jeremy points us to a story at Mashable covering ten music videos filmed with the iPhone and most of them are pretty damn good. Here’s one that was produced and edited by Emmy Award-winner Alen Petkovic for the band Vintage Trouble:

As you watch these videos, you realize that in a lot of cases, if you didn’t know they were filmed with a smartphone, you’d probably never know. We’ve shown how filmmakers can make a pretty high quality film with a standard DSLR in the past but I’m beginning to wonder when we’ll see the first released “feature film” filmed entirely with smartphones. I would imagine it can’t be that far away.

And, if you think about it, this is pretty damn exciting. I remember when I was a kid, the idea of being able to make movies was a really cool idea but it involved saving up a ton of money to buy an expensive video camera or hoping that you could find some friends whose parents had a video camera (which they never really wanted us kids to borrow). But when you get a super high quality video camera included in the phone you already bought anyway… well, suddenly some pretty powerful things can be enabled.

At a time when the movie industry is whining and complaining about how there are supposedly going to be fewer movies made, I’d argue that they haven’t paid much attention to how much the tools of film making have been getting ridiculously cheaper over the past couple of decades. And no (before the Hollywood apologists step in and falsely claim this), I’m not saying that just because you can take decent videos on an iPhone, it means that we don’t need professionals or higher end cameras and such. This is just to point out the extreme end of the spectrum and to recognize that some of it is definitely filtering back to other parts of film making as well. A professional film shot on a tight budget might actually be able to do a few more things because they can go with cheaper cameras. I’ve been listening to Kevin Smith’s podcasts about his upcoming film Red State, and at one point, they mentioned that in order to fit things in their budget, they ended up borrowing a Red Camera (which is a high quality, but relatively cheap camera) from a guy in exchange for letting him hang out on set. But imagine what more people could do if they could devote less of their budget to things like cameras and make existing budgets go further.

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Comments on “How Long Until A Feature Length Movie Is Filmed Entirely With Smartphones?”

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Hephaestus (profile) says:

” I’d argue that they haven’t paid much attention to how much the tools of film making have been getting ridiculously cheaper over the past couple of decades.”

Much like music having 5 million bands on MySpace its only a matter of time before this trend happens on the Video side. If you know anything about economics and supply and demand you know this will cause the studios to start hemorrhaging money as competition grows.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Mikes post strikes a cord with me. I am filming a series of videos of possible solutions to the worlds energy problems on a Blackberry cell phone and a $100 USD 1080 video camera. If I wanted to do this 5 years ago it would have cost me $2,000 USD for the same quality video cameras, now its just some crap electronics I carry with me.

“As the younger people don’t need the larger ones, it makes the market more competitive, and you just can’t blame piracy if you can’t employ the people using the technology in innovative ways.”

The competition is what is going to kill the TV and movie studios not infringement. Currently we have a ton of video being done and uploaded to YouTube. Mostly its crap but two things have changed in the past month. The first is that YouTube is allowing longer videos. The second is that the next installment of “Pioneer One” has come out turning it into a series. Both are game changers.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

(BTW, Kevin Frakin’ Smith had to borrow a Red Cam? WTF?)

They had a *super tight* budget on this flick, and they had a Red Camera, but wanted another one for additional work, and couldn’t fit it into the budget until this guy came along and let them borrow his. If you listen to the podcasts he’s done, it’s really fascinating how they did all sorts of things to stretch the budget to keep it within their investors’ limits.

thublihnk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Oh, definitely, I’ve actually written a paper on how ridiculous it is that Cloverfield was shot in HD on a 4000 dollar camera. Even so, I think that would work better as an episodic, maybe web-only release. Watching a feature like that in a theater would be a waste of the theater space and the jarring effect of watching video like that shown on a huge screen where you usually watch crisp, well-taken images would be a lot more than you might think.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Perhaps so, but I think the real point is that with such widespread access to these tools (even if they are limited tools) we are going to see tonnes of innovation. You can’t rule out the possibility (I would argue the likelihood) that a group of clever young filmmakers will come up with an idea for an iPhone film that is so new and different nobody has anticipated it.

thublihnk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Oh definitely. If someone approached me with an iPhone project that I thought wasn’t just some budget-dodging that should be shot on a higher quality DV cam, I would jump on it in a second. That’s the first thing they teach you in film school. Don’t shoot with the highest quality cam for the sake of shooting on the highest quality cam, choose a camera that will properly tell your story.

crazo says:

“But imagine what more people could do if they could devote less of their budget to things like cameras and make existing budgets go further.”

The cost of equipment rental is truly one of the cheapest parts of a feature film budget. Those budget line items have been dropping steadily ever since the first broadcast HD cameras became easily available 10 years ago. Paying people for their time is the thing that costs money…

Free Capitalist (profile) says:

Re: Re:

As long as everyone is willing to accept the old shaky cam on the big screen, they are good to go. The current pixel resolution for higher end phone cameras / video recorders is good enough to pass the stink test.

These days are simultaneously the best and the most frustrating for videophiles.

Just don’t shoot another Cloverfield.

Dear filmmakers and potentials: please, please PLEASE take this advice.

Anonymous Coward says:

Nice video.

When you have the creativity really, it doesn’t matter what the tools you use, but the results.

I see some people focusing on hardware when they have no creativity whatsoever and think that somehow hardware will make them better, which I don’t understand because if you can’t draw it doesn’t matter if you have a thousand dollar wacom you ain’t gonna produce nothing on it that you couldn’t do with a pencil.

Same thing for video people keep forgetting that a camera is just a lens and a capture media in this case a photo-sensor all that other stuff can be corrected or modified post-production and with some many cameras people actually can do some very impressive stuff.

Hugin and Photosynth(open source now people) can show what can be done with a lot of video. Heck people keep getting those old footage and doing cool things with them and they were horrible.

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