Mobile Filmmaking

University has introduced me to many things, filmmaking especially.

The most unexpected thing I got introduced to was mobile filmmaking.

Before starting the Social Technologies module this semester, I had a sour opinion of mobile films and mobile photography. After getting used to the results from my DSLR, I could pick out a photo taken on a phone almost every time. I didn’t think it had much of a place in “proper” photography because, quite frankly, it didn’t look nearly as good in a technical sense.

Waiting at the bus stop. Incredibly late for a uni thing. Whoops.

A post shared by Isaac Dean (@isaacjdean) on

However, mobile filmmaking and photography isn’t about the quality of the file, lens quality or low light performance. It’s a different way of thinking entirely. Even though quality does still come into it, mobile filmmaking is all about the content. I’ll keep updating this blog post with the films I create over the course of the module.

MINA

This idea that the content is more important than the technical quality was demonstrated to us when we were shown many mobile films at a small screening at the university, MINA  (Mobile Innovation Network Aotearoa).

The above video showcases short clips of a lot of the videos we were shown. I would highly recommend “Goodnight Shining” which was one of the videos shown. This amazing music video was filmed with an iPhone! It looks stunning, not only on a technical level, but the set design, the composition, lighting, everything. The music is fantastic as well.

The Films I Created

Over the past few months I’ve created a small number of mobile films for assignments. I’ve learnt a lot about composition, exposure and what can happen when at first my creativity seemed limited by equipment. Using a phone to film with took me out of my comfort zone and forced me to think differently. This resulted in ideas and whole concepts I would never have come up with otherwise.

A good example of being out of my comfort zone was my 24 Frames, 24 Hours film. We had to hold the camera in portrait orientation, yuck. However, I enjoyed the freedom that this way of filming gave me. I could get close to people without them realising I was filming them. I couldn’t have done that with my 60D!

This was filmed at The Photography Show back in March. You can read more about it in this blog post.

The next video I did was all filmed using the Time-Lapse technique. This is where you take a picture at a constant interval, every 10 seconds, for example, then play back each picture at the same frame rate as video (24FPS). This creates a short video that contains large amounts of time, compressed in a way that looks like time has been sped up.

I used After Effects to composite the footage together. Using masks, I took two shots filmed at the same place, one night, one day, and joined them together.

The next video was a group project with Alex Arditti, Patrick Lawrence and Richard Chinn. Originally we had the idea of a slap stick style comedy, but when I started writing the script, it became more serious.

This was shot with an iPhone 5s using the FiLMiC Pro App. We used a couple of 800 watt tungsten lights, key light over head and one as a fill with a red gel. We used a large black cloth to hide our kitchen. You can read more about this on our group blog.

The final video I created for Social Technologies was a music video/guitar play-through of a song I wrote shortly before filming. The music isn’t for everybody but some of the angles are interesting.

Read more about how I created it here (scroll down).

To sum up, making films with a phone has been an exciting, enlightening and sometimes frustrating experience. I’ve learnt a lot about what is important in film and how difficult it is to get people to actually watch content that they’ve never heard of. I would recommend trying to create a film with a phone. You may learn a lot.

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