Introduction to FiLMiC Pro
We're gonna give everybody an overview of the app landscape from pre-production, production into post-production, and with a little bit of an emphasis on audio because as Houser will be able to tell you, audio is equally, if not more, important than the picture that you're gonna get. And then we're gonna get into filmmaking because mobile filmmaking at its core is filmmaking, and there are a lot of universal concepts that Jonathan's gonna teach you in the second half of today's program.
Yeah, absolutely, I thin that, you know... Mobile filmmaking and also, just shooting photos and video on your mobile devices has kind of become this thing that's sort of taken off in a way and sort of crept up on us. And it's really exciting to see these devices becoming better and better as the years go on. We have several devices here that range from, you know, little, tiny, small devices, little iPhone 4's all the way up to the 6 Plus. And they're just becoming these great tools that like allow you...
to get your vision out quickly and easily, or allow you to kinda get into the shooting, start making your ideas and making films with a low barrier to entry. But yeah, we're excited to talk about what our favorite apps are, and what sort of tools we have kind of to create our vision for things.
Let's talk a little bit about your app because your app was what made me get into app development, and I think that that was on the iPhone 3GS or the 3.
It was one the, it was 2009, so I think it might've been iPhone 3 is when it was out. But we made it for so you even, we even used it on the iPhone 1 believe or not. (Neill laughs) But yeah, so the app that I--
That I created was, it's called Storyboard Composer. It was called Hitchcock previously, and it's an app that allows you to kind of pre-visualize your ideas and get them out of your head. Really intended not necessarily to replace storyboarding by any means, but it's intended at the minimum for a director or a creative to be able to kind of quickly and effectively convey their ideas either to a storyboard artist, who would then take the images and sketch them up and draw them, or even on set where you're shooting. You've got a complex series of shots, and you're trying to kind of... You know, things happen when you're shooting. Things happen that are out of your control so often times, something will change, and you'll have to quickly figure out what an eyeline is or maybe the next series of shots are. And so, to be able to take your phone, take images of the scene, rearrange them, add mark ups, play it back as a movie, you can kind of get an idea of your pacing then. And you know, I could never draw, I'm not a very good drawer so drawing stick figures has always been very frustrating for me. So being able to like quickly take pictures and arrange them was kind of the solution that I came up with, and it's been pretty successful. It's been doing pretty well, and yeah, so it's kind of the--
Well, it was certainly an eye opener for me at what an effective tool a mobile device could be, and I can't draw either. And Jonathan's app enabled you to communicate with other people on your set at a speed with which I didn't even know was possible. Definitely a game changer in pre-production, and at the time, actually if it was really the 3, then there was no video capability at all. The 3GS shot 640x480, which was pretty lousy 4x3 standard definition. And so, FiLMiC Pro came around with the iPhone 4, which shot 720p HD and was the first credible smartphone for high definition video. It had some limitations, no image stabilization... Limited frame rates, I think it topped out at 30 frames a second.
Then, a slow rolling shutter, but if you had a stable image, very stable image, you had great quality footage that you could cut in anywhere. So around the time after I created the app, we went on a couple of content trips, and initially, they started out with Jonathan shooting DSLR and our first sort of gambit was can we make a video that intercuts DSLR footage and iPhone footage and have an audience appreciate it and not notice the glaring differentiation in shots? And we certainly did that on the first trip, and one of my favorite anecdotes is the second trip that we went on very early into it. And Jonathan's carrying around, I think it was a 5D or a 7D--
And you also had this external audio rig, and so you'd be trying to hold the camera, calibrate the lenses, tweak the levels. And one day, you ended up borrowing or using one of our iPhones with the iPro Lens kit and then just said, "The hell with it."
Why am I even using my DSLR?
I remember that moment clearly. I don't know if we were in Croatia, or some, it was some beautiful landscape where there's this kind of tall grass and this blue sky. And I'm pulling the phone out and shooting just this kind of like B-roll coverage of this landscape that was, it just looked so vibrant, and it was like an iPhone. I think it was an iPhone 4 right, so it was just this tiny little thing, and I'm like... You know, I had already gotten into shooting stills with a phone, but I was just starting to shoot more and more film-ic stuff and really realizing the power of these beautiful landscapes with the iPhone and being able to shoot these kind of really great moments. And so, I basically like mothballed my camera for the rest of the trip and basically jumped right in. What was really cool about the iPro Lens kit at the time was that you can swap out wide or telephoto lenses and really get those focal lengths that you kind of miss with a smaller format lens system. But I think the thing was really monumental about FiLMiC Pro for me is that not only did it allow you to tap into higher data rates on your phone so you're not kind of stuck with those lower, 15 megabytes or 30 megabytes per second. You can go up to 50 megabytes per second, which really opens up the capabilities of the chip, and also, the native camera was shooting at 30 frames per second, if I'm correct, right? And so, it allowed you to drop into a 24 frame sort of timeline and look, which is for better or worse, the frame rate that we're all used to being more film-ic.
Checks in the mail for that one. So before we dive into the specifics, we're gonna play you a short little video that shows some of the wonderful content that the people are creating all around the world with iPhones and FiLMiC Pro. ("True Love" by George Acosta and Fisher) ♪ I know everything I am ♪ ♪ My love's complete ♪ ♪ With you, I live a dreamer's dream ♪ ♪ You're so 3D ♪ ♪ And true love is what we make ♪ ♪ You're everything to me ♪ ♪ I'm everything you want ♪ ♪ True love is what we make ♪ ♪ When we're together ♪ So a couple things just jumped out at me seeing that clip for the 350th time is one, I mean, the incredible use of 240 frames a second that you were just talking about in the snowflake just slowing moving across the screen and the expressive potential that these devices now have that they didn't have two, three, four years ago is unbelievable. And you can get not only great finished product, but if you're an aspiring filmmaker, you can learn what the expressive potential is. You can try out 48 frames a second. You can try out 60 frames, 120, 240. How does the yo-yo player look in all of those different frame rates and which is the right one, and instead of having to go either spend 20,000 dollars or you know, 1,250 bucks for a day rate, you're carrying that around in your pocket, hopefully with an eight dollar app, and learning as you go and then becoming a better filmmaker in the process. The other thing that leaped out to me was actually the lovers on the bridge, I think, in Paris, but I don't know for sure. But just the emotion of it, that translates no matter what. I mean, these cameras are shooting high definition, 1080p footage, which is what DSLR's were using as a benchmark not very long ago. So they're no longer a novelty act. If you can convey emotion, if you can convey a story, you can effectively do it on these devices.
It's pretty cool, like it's pretty cool. Like I spend a lot of time shooting on various types of cameras ranging from ALEXA's to RED's down to DSLR's, even little point and shoot type cameras that are all have beautiful images and have different uses and different weights and different benefits and costs and what not, but the camera that I use more than any of those other cameras is my iPhone. I am always in a situation inevitably where I'm walking down the street. Neill referenced this yo-yo story, and it's, you know, you see an opportunity that sticks out to you and so often, you just walk by opportunities. It's so easy just to kind of like be like, "Well, I don't," you know. You don't have you gear with you or whatever, but like that's saying the best camera is the camera that you have in your pocket. It really is true when it comes to mobile video because you really, often, these moments of, and in that video, I saw a couple moments that you know weren't planned, obviously. The birds flying through the air. It's like these beautiful, striking moments where it's like, "I need to shoot that, I don't care if this is gonna be "in a movie that's gonna be 4K, RED, whatever later, "but I need to get this down so we can possibly use it "to cut into a moment or whatever." And so, being able to have not only a phone that captures high quality, high resolution footage, but being able to adjust the exposure. And one thing I noticed pretty much throughout the whole thing is so many of that, so much of that exposure was spot on, and exposure is one of those things that is just the real kind of... Not the hidden secret, but a secret to really powerful imagery is getting that exposure right, choosing where, what to expose and what to let go. And you know, using an app that allows you to be able to have those manual controls is so critical in those times and be able to quickly access those things in maybe a spontaneous moment that you see on the street.
And I think that's a perfect example of one of those core concepts that you can apply either to mobile devices, to FiLMiC Pro, or to RED EPIC's, RED Dragons, and every camera in between. One follow up point, and so, I'm actually, I still have it. So I have a Canon 5D, beautiful camera, incredible image quality, gorgeous in low light, you know, tons of optic choices. I never use it, I never use it, never use it, never use it, and I think the spontaneity that you're talking about, like if you're at a cafe or at a bar with some friends and somebody's telling a good story, you don't pull out your 5D and take your 24 to 70 2.8 and you know. I mean, the conversation stops, and people are like, you know, "Get that thing out of my face." But with mobile devices, smartphones, everybody's completely comfortable with it, and I think that there's sort of like a new, I don't know. Everybody's an actor, and everybody has a potential to be a filmmaker. So hopefully after today's class, you'll be inspired.