We Mincey folks have our vices; our proud, family vices. They range back to gun collections (and usage), poker, whiskey, ponies, cameras, and calculator collections. And, more recently, movies.
I started movie making back in the early Sony Handycam days. Movie taking and making was fun. Movies were clumsy to edit at best. Quality was nominal. Handy it all wasn’t. Whatever iPhone you have from recent years captures better video than broadcast TV stations could just a few years ago. Movies are being shot on iPhones these days. Here’s one.
iPhone vs. Red
Before I step into details about director producer Steve Soderbergh’s movie shot with an iPhone, let’s see how the iPhone itself compares to an expensive Hollywood camera. The $50,000 Red Weapon goes head-to-head, side-by-side against a recent model iPhone 7 Plus (the one with Apple’s best camera).
Who wins? The Hollywood camera. What did you expect? See for yourself.
What you probably noticed was not just how great the Red Weapon is and what you get for $50,000, but instead noticed how good the iPhone’s video was when compared side-by-side (or, top over bottom). One of Hollywood’s best digital camera systems costs 50-times the best iPhone, but the videos displayed are remarkably similar to the average user who does not understand or appreciated the quality and nuances given to a video image from a professional camera.
So, why would a professional film maker want to shoot a movie using an iPhone? It’s been done before, and it’s growing in popularity, but Steven Soderbergh knows there is more to a movie than just camera quality; think writing, lighting, acting, technique, sound and more. All contribute to the film or video, but it’s the package of all the components that makes the difference.
Asked whether he had any advice or suggestions for how someone could find financing for an independent film, Soderbergh answered “get a script and an iPhone and start shooting. Seriously.”
Think about that response for a moment. Yes, an iPhone is that good. We can argue all day whether or not a Samsung Galaxy S8’s camera is better, but Soderbergh didn’t say Samsung. He said iPhone. The video from an iPhone is that good.
Standard broadcast HD TV usually shows up as 720p; ditto for most cable TV companies. 1080p is available here and there, but your iPhone shoots 1080p at 30-fps. That’s better than most broadcast video. It also shoots at 60-fps. And iPhone 7 shoots video at 4k resolution. At 30-fps. A single device in your hand (or, better on a tripod) does continuous autofocus, slow-motion at 1080p and 720p (240-fps). There’s even cinematic video stabilization at 1080p and time-lapse video and noise reduction. With stabilization.
In other words, the amount of capability built into just the iPhone 7 Plus camera is little short of astounding; sufficiently so that Hollywood directors know the value and can use the device– along with all the other components required in a modern movie– to produce video that is mostly indistinguishable from movies created the old fashioned way. On film.
Check out a number of movies created recently by producers and directors who relied on iPhone.
There are many others. It’s a growing trend because an iPhone, circa 2016, is an amazing device that can do far more than most of us require. Yes, iPhone is that good.
What’s the catch?
James Ransone, from Tangerine, explains:
Yes, you can make a beautiful-looking film on a shoestring budget. But you have to know 100 years worth of filmmaking.