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Making films with an iPhone

In recent months I have written, directed, filmed and edited two short films (8 min and 13 min) using an iPhone for shooting and an iPad for editing. Anyone interested in talking about this process? I find it enhances my creativity and is fun.

  • Yes I just made a film shooting in a museum using an iPhone. Quality is superb even with my entry level phone and nobody questioned me filming with it as everyone is using them in such places.

    2 months ago
    • Delighted to hear from you, Philip. Agree that people accept filming on mobile phones because phones are everywhere.

      2 months ago
  • If either of the films are online, on Vimeo or YouTube, I'd love to see how they came out...

    2 months ago
  • Yes, I'd love to talk about it. Tell me more about the process. I am thinking of shooting a short ton iphone in the next couple of weeks.

    2 months ago
  • I have experimented a lot until a couple of years ago. Now I am waiting to buy a new-gen iPhone before I get back to having fun with it.

    In the past, I have managed to cover an entire day of Social Media deliveries for a company using just an iPhone and an iPad, while I was filming with a GH5 for a bigger project to be edited later.

    I used the always reliable FilmicPro to film, and the stunning LumaFusion to edit on iPad. With LumaFusion, I had also the chance to prepare ad hoc, branded lower thirds, free music, template sequences and more.

    Nowadays, there are more possibilities, especially with all the beautiful apps Adobe is delivering for mobile.

    2 months ago
  • I’ve shot a few things on my IPhone using Filmic Pro. Just for myself not for a project, although I would love to. I shot a load of footage from the victory parade after Liverpool won the Champions League final and it was seamless getting the footage from the phone and into Final Cut Pro.

    2 months ago
  • Yes this the small film I made with my wife at Tate Britain with an iPhone SE.

    2 months ago
    • I really appreciated this film, and learned a lot about Millais. Liked the way you incorporated music and narration to back up the images.

      2 months ago
    • Thanks Philip for sharing, I really enjoyed your film. Did you download an app or did you use the video option in Camera to record it?

      1 month ago
  • Great to hear from everyone. If you're interested in learning more, email me at sraquinn(at) gmail (dot) com and I could form a discussion group via Zoom or Meetup. I teach for free. I've taught mobile video-making in 19 countries. More at my teaching web site at Stephen

    2 months ago
  • I liked your film a lot, Philip - thank you for sharing!

    2 months ago
  • Hi all,
    I shot a feature on a Red Dragon in 6K using anamorphic lenses. The problem is, I'm not satisfied with the film and decided to go back and shoot around 30-40 minutes of additional storylines to add to the film so I can cut down what's already been shot (to eliminate some bad camera moves & performances and shrink the story already shot). Unfortunately, our budget was mostly spent on what we shot and we have very little funding left, so I wanted to use two iPhones to shoot the new stories (new cast, locations and storylines) and they need to fit with what's been shot already. I'm hoping that using iPhones will cut down the number of crew and equipment and allow for much faster setups (so we can shoot the 30-40 min in 5 days or less). So until I hire a new DOP, I wanted to consult this group about what is involved in doing that, any software or lense recommendations for the iPhones, which iPhone shall get, any apps to consider? Anything to be aware of? I appreciate any advice on the matter.
    Thank you!

    1 month ago
  • I guess the first thing to do is shoot some stuff that's representative of what you're wanting to shoot on those iPhones and compare it with the Red Dragon footage you have. Best to review the test on as big and as good a monitor as available.

    I imagine we'd all be interested to know the results. How much latitude the iPhone provides for on-line post production, such as cutting
    smoothly with the Red, is a thing.

    Ironically it may be more a case of cutting the Red footage down to the quality of the iPhone.

    As ever, content is king.

    1 month ago
  • I know little these days about the technical and qualitative differences between the best phone based cameras and actual film and television cameras.

    I used to be one of the 'go to' experts on maximising lower definition formats for broadcast and features. My instincts are that when it comes to using phone based cameras there's rather more wishfulness than authentic
    technical analysis going on.

    I also suspect that brand presumption is not well founded either. Apple's iPhones are not necessarily any better, and sometimes inferior, to Android phone based cameras.

    Whilst phone based cameras are now actually viable for more aspirational productions, one ought not let ones wishfulness get disproportionately unrealistic. It's not all about pixel counts (2k,4k,6k etc.), by some margin. Motion integrity, colour, contrast and post production headroom are all determined according to the technical latitude of the format, the camera and the lenses. These are the things that matter as screens get bigger, let alone at the cinema.

    There's a reason for why £50k cameras and £20k lenses are still on the market. Having said that I've been impressed with some of the sub £10k and even sub £3k fixed lens 100mbps÷ 4k camcorders currently available that really can give those megabuck types a bit of a run for their money.

    It's worth noting that all those 'successful' films shot on phone cameras used a lot more technical hardware during both production and post production than what the consumer finds in the box they bought in Curries

    1 month ago
  • Finally, if one is looking for the cheapest 100mbps 4k camera with a full frame one inch sensor, several format options, a lens that's better than anything on a phone camera, excellent easy run and gun controls as well as full manual function controls, take a look at the Sony PXW Z90. Shopping around I've spotted them for between £2,200 and £2,900. A lot more than an iPhone but at least ten times better.

    It also incorporates excellent PCM 48k audio through two balanced line SQN sockets alleviating the need for separate audio for many productions.

    1 month ago
    • Thank you so much John for taking the time and sharing all this information. That's very helpful.

      1 month ago
  • My 2 cents. I agree with John that the Sony PXW Z90 gives you a lot of bang for one's buck as the lens is truly remarkable. I would suggest using your iPhone as a monitor/control via an app instead as your main filming camera. As usual, it all depends on what you intend the footage for, the filming limitations and requirements, budget (a moot point if you already have an iPhone and little or no other money) all secondary to how capable the camera operator and more importantly the subject matter being filmed. On the negative side, having a fixed single lens does have its limitations and I prefer to have the option to swap out so that I can use a variety of glass, for macro, Close-ups, super-wide (without distortion), most importantly fast prime (less than F1) if you need to film in very low light. Sadly the Sony PXW S90 doesn't shoot slow-mo in 4K which is another tiny gripe. The camera profile/shape would limit the use of budget stabiliser gimbals so my preference would still be one of the many 4K DSLR options set up purely for the option to change lenses and to be able to use a sub-two hundred pound gimbal with the whole bundle still coming in under 2K. For run and gun filming and docs the Sony PXW S90 is a game-changer and an excellent recommendation over using an iPhone.

    1 month ago
    • Very good and qualified points from Ray. Some of the DSLR cameras together with a well rounded lens kit provide excellent quality at relatively low cost. Because filming scripted drama allows for set ups and camera settings to be well integrated with seperate audio and camera transitions a high end DSLR based kit is a good option.

      I'm intregued to learn that some DSLR's offer slowmo at 100mbps 4K

      In mitigation of the PXW Z90 fixed zoom lens, it can copy many of the characteristics of a bag of separate lenses, if not all of them. It's low light capability, macro focus and shallow depth of field is quite useful too. It has a full frame sensor. There are adapter lenses that add to the possibilities.

      What one loses on the roundabouts one gains on the swings. The devil is in the detailed requirements of the job and the material and human resources available.

      The way in which operator and directorial skills are best
      deployed can often be the difference of choice.

      I defer to Ray's greater experience of making successful feature dramas. I'm mostly a documentary, info/commercial and factual producer; for which I've found DSLR's less suitable for exploiting unplanned and/or uncontrollable run and gun opportunities, that nevertheless, still demand high production values. Though there are considerable craft overlaps between drama and documentary too.

      1 month ago
  • I'm using a Panasonic GH5 S which actually has 4096 x 2160 @ 24p / 400 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM and 4096 x 2160 @ 50p / 150 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM, 3840 x 2160 @ 25p / 400 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM also V and other log options, Dual SD/SDHC/SDXC cards (UHS-II V60 cards supported), Up to 4:2:2 10-bit output via HDMI and USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 GBit/sec). All in all impressive for what is a pro-summer camera.
    My apologies to all previous contributors for high-jacking this iPhone thread. I suggest any further alternative camera tech talk to be started in a new thread.
    Now back to iPhone shooting content.

    1 month ago
    • It's all Reems fault but I don't think we've drifted too far off topic.

      That Panasonic GH5 S has impressive specs. At around £2k to £3k with a couple of lenses, batteries and SD cards, by the time ones iPhone is fit for purpose with the additional kit required, the GH5 S has to be a much better option worth stretching to.

      1 month ago
  • Late to the party, but I shot my first short film on an iPhone X in Sep, though I did the editing in Premiere.
    I found the freedom of movement to be a great help, especially being inexperienced and trying different shots out.
    You can see the results of my efforts here;

    1 month ago
    • Enjoyed your film, Ed. Agree that the mobile gives you more flexibility and freedom.SQ

      1 month ago
  • If anyone is interested in having a Zoom chat about mobile film-making, please email me at sraquinn (at) gmail (dot) com and I will set up a session. Best wishes, Stephen

    1 month ago
  • I have arranged a Zoom chat about making movies with only a smartphone for this Thursday, January 14, from 3pm. No password required. Hope to meet anyone interested then. Stephen Quinn

    2 weeks ago
  • Game changer! Not an iPhone
    If I was going to shoot any film on a phone now this is the phone I would use
    "Say hello to the powerful new Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G presently for around one thousand three-fifty. Create cinematic photos and videos from everyday moments with the 8K video. Featuring iconic metal contours and stylish colours, this is a phone designed to be epic in every way."
    Up to 512GB storage with 16GB Ram
    Alternatively, if your shooting on a very tight budget I would seriously recommend you check out the reviews for the Google Pixel 4a going for around three hundred and fifty pounds it is incredible value for money with an amazing high-quality camera and superb battery life.

    6 days ago