Movie Making with the iPhone

When Steven Spielberg needed to fulfill a Boy Scout merit badge requirement, he grabbed the 8mm camera. That was the start. We all know the rest of the story. Spielberg’s first movie, The Last Gunfight, was shot with his father’s 8mm camera. With the 8mm and then the Super 8, movie making became a more viable hobby.

Fast forward to movies via smartphone. Framed is a beautifully photographed short film by French filmmaker Mael Sevestre. Framed was shot entirely on the iPhone 4S. Sevestre rigged the iPhone 4S to shoot with an old twin lens camera that can be seen in the film. (Framed is about a photographer that comes upon something unexpected while shooting pictures in the woods.)

Framed was small budget. How about big budget? The big rumor on iPhone 4S’ movie making capabilities swirled around The Avengers. But The Avengers director of photography Seamus McGarvey said he was misquoted. He didn’t use the iPhone 4S to shoot scenes for The Avengers, but he says Hollywood productions are more often using the iPhone.

Mobile devices help all of us make movies. They also make it easier to document what’s happening around us. News crews are shooting breaking news with iPhones. Why not? The iPhone creates beautiful video, especially the 4S — 1080p HD with video stabilization

While smartphones make it look so easy, it can be a struggle to get just the right shots. Occasionally at latakoo, we do get questions from users who have issues with their iPhone video. So we put together our top 5 tips for shooting with the iPhone. And remember some features we discuss may not be pertinent to all iPhone models.

When shooting video, keep your iPhone in landscape mode with the home button on the right.

  1. Think Landscape: Shoot all of your video in landscape mode. That means you should not be holding your phone the same way you would if you were on a phone call. This is the most common mistake iPhone videographers repeat. Here’s a way to keep it straight in your head: portrait mode is for documents; landscape mode is for TV. Video is for TV. While even Apple’s website shows the phone in landscape mode with the home button to the left or the right, we found that if the home button is not on the right while in landscape, some systems will show it upside down. To avoid any issues in rotation, make sure your home button is on the right. You can fix portrait video in some editing systems, including iMovie. QuickTime will rotate your video for you because QuickTime is a multimedia framework developed by Apple. But other players will not. latakoo is working to adjust your streaming video, but on the download, you would still get what you sent up. Just rotate your phone 90 degrees and you won’t have to worry about it.
  2. Focus: The iPhone does auto focus, but if you are trying to get detail, it’s best to tap the screen, focus on the item you are shooting, then hit the red button to record.
  3. Stabilize: While the video stabilization on the iPhone 4S is a noticeable departure from earlier iPhones, the stabilization works best for situations where you may be doing short pans, and not moving along with the camera. We suggest a mini-tripod. Several companies make these handy pods.
  4.  Plan for good audio: The microphone on virtually every mobile device is best used as a phone. If you are recording video that’s important, something you plan to edit, use an external mic. You’ll need an adapter that plugs in where your headphones would go – then plug the microphone into the adapter.
  5. Tight, Medium, Wide: The rule for basic shooting is “tight, medium, wide.” For the iPhone, it’s essentially the same if you plan to edit the footage. Get tight shots, medium shots, and wide shots. Hold your shots for 5 to 8 seconds at least and don’t do too many pans.

Make sure to download the latakoo App so that you can send large iPhone files fast. An Android App is coming soon. Go ahead — find your inner Spielberg and koo that movie up.

Words by Jade Kurian; Video by Steve Kline; Produced by Kurian & Kline


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One Response to Movie Making with the iPhone

  1. Raúl Colón says:

    I really like the way the video was shot. Some great tips on things people might not focus on.

    I will definitely share with others and I am sure they will get great value from it.

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