Mobile Filmmaking Overview
Two thousand fifteen I think is the year that mobile video is significant uh, transformative appearance on the landscape I think that happened for I pornography three, four years ago, you know, with initially hips, thematic and camera plus that and people still didn't take iphone video seriously, but now there have been everything from bentley motors shooting a couple spots with the ap two people making films that appeared at south by southwest and the real turning point was sean baker and krisberg ashes wonderful film tangerine, which we'll get to in a little bit but this was a movie shot on iphone shot with filmic pro premiered at sundance got bought within the first two days after the premiere for close to a million dollars and now is going for theatrical release nationwide and internationally critical yeah, you don't get much of a higher ceiling than that and so if you could take away one thing it's the potential that any of you guys could follow that same path, pursue your dream p...
ursue any unique stories that you have that nobody else in the world is going to be able to tell as well as you are um no less than I guess the chief creative officer picks on while disney said recently I phoned to give a vibrancy you've never been ableto have before I think a new film grammar is goingto come with these uh things I'm not one hundred percent sure what that grammer's going to be but I think it's in flux right now that will be really curious to see two or three years from now what people are creating uh with these devices a couple other interesting point to just show how mobile video is exploding facebook in september of two thousand fourteen was doing a billion uh mobile video plays a day pretty good but in april of this year they're doing four billion video plays a day four hundred percent increase in less than eight months and what was most surprising to me is seventy five percent of all video content consumed online is consumed on mobile devices and so what that means is you don't necessarily need a twenty thirty forty thousand dollars camera to reach the youtube audience and if you're shooting and then actually ten adp has even overkill for web distribution you could get by with seven twenty um just fine so if you have a story to tell, start telling it and proceed from there um ok, so I made this point a little bit earlier but can't stress it enough anything that you learn on a mobile platform you're going to be able to transition over to any camera that you use if you aspire to be a filmmaker then there's never been a better device to begin to learn on uh these days absolutely I mean I time and time and again I have people young people coming to me and asking me like I really want to give the shooting germany advice on maybe a camera and you know the it's hard to tell them that just pick up a camera and shoot because I think people want to hear that you know that you have some sort of magic bullet but really what? It comes down to his story and story structure and shot structure and pacing all those things are so critical wind when you're shooting and when you're telling the story and as a cinematographer you are collaborating with the director to try to convey this image and really it does it start clicking on until you shoot ah lot you really have to shoot a lot like with any art form work with writing with with singing you know you just have to get those hours under your belt and what's really so cool about the mobile platform is that you have a video camera in your pocket most people, whether it's whether it's an iphone or whether it's an android device, whatever it is regardless, you have the means to be able to shoot motion content and sometimes you can even edit it on your phone and really start to play with the idea of like, what does it mean if I put the camera down low and shoot up it at my friend or my dad or I shoot down at him from the side like how does that make me feel? How does that you know? And the more you do that the more become second nature so that when you are eventually approached by a director and they're like I really want to feel this truck if you kind of feel like the person to feel kind of like small and lonely, you know what to do with the camera that and um you know, what it comes down to is like the device you have is the best device whether it's a little handy camera or whether it's you know, a phone which is really, really cool it's exciting to know that you know, the buried entry is is lowering and weaken get thes stories that air may be really quiet stories that would never have been told normally before everyone had these devices in their pocket um the perfect lead into our next slide and I sort of want to caution people at home if there was the magic bullet phrase is the one that I'm latching onto you like by turning into the workshop today there's a particular button in the app that was magically going to make you a great filmmaker that isn't the case you do have to understand about shock, composition and what it means in the cinematic language in the way that you do that is trial and error watching films, reading a book, appropriating somebody else's technique and seeing if it works for you and then growing from there have a great quote from a guy named james ransom, who wass an actor in the wire was also an actor and tangerine, which will show you guys a trailer in just a little bit. And basically when sean baker initially said, I want to make this movie on the iphone, he was met with like, you got to be kidding me. In fact, I think this particular actor was like, you got to be getting me I was on the wire, you know? We're going to use I phones and what he quickly realizes that sean and chris and everybody else on the crew were extremely accomplished film makers, and they understood cinema language. And so his quote is just picking up a smartphone yes, it's more affordable, but it's not going to replace an understanding of the hundred years of cinema that come before it. So the more that you understand that and it can inform your shooting, just like jonathan said, whatever device you pick up, you're going to be a better uh, filmmaker so let's go over these though you talked about a couple of them and actually for people at home, we have potentially in a extremely broad audience from sort of first time filmmakers to people who have been using the app for a long time so if you wantto go to creative live dot com and right in and join the chap words and let people know what you're interested in us talking about hopefully we can get some of it today and if there's a better workshop in the future that would hit the largest core audience we would love to revisit that because specifically we could talk about cinema language for weeks people get a school for years so you know uh you know jonathan telling you that if you frame a shot from down here and you frame a shot from up here on the same character they have completely different meanings why do you want to use one versus the other if I'm framing him upper frame left or upper frame right if he's looking screen left or he's looking screen right those all have meaning when do I use this particular shot? There's no necessarily hard fast rules but they carry audience assumptions and you have to pick and choose as a cinematographer or director just you know, a mature filmmaker on the street what those shots are going to be maybe we'll get to that actually a bit in the second segment when we're going to be shooting a little cafe saying we can talk about the particular shots um audio weather tio run with that well audio is one of those things that I think that ends it unfortunately getting kind of pushing it back because there's the sparkle of audio isn't quite there is the sparkle of cinematography or camera work a direction but the rial the real truth about it his audio is just as important if not more important than picture and honestly I'm sorry for so that means that means a lot to me is that basically the way that we work is we can deal with a lot of bad image in some films intentionally have image that are images that are distressed in a way or shot on a certain camera that is supposed to be emotionally kind of manipulative but bad audio is rarely israeli a tool that you try to manipulate people with because people just check out so audio is such a powerful thing that getting good clean audio is so essential and it's really the cheapest way to make a really high quality film if you decide well I'm going to do that later will put voice and later we'll do a tr later it's an incredibly expensive process and it's very hard to do it well so getting good our audio from the get go is really, really difficult and until recently it's been very difficult on mobile devices it's been hard to kind of get you know the microphone on the devices are getting better but they're meant for just kind of compressed audio over a cell phone tower, but you know now with ike I ke products coming out and those those tools that I had a pipe in really good, high quality audio it's exciting like it really kind of is that second peace, the last piece that allows you to be able to kind of take it to the next level. All right? I think actually a lot of people don't even know where the microphones on their device are, and so if you're just pin holding, if there's a good chance of one of your fingers is going to be over a critical microphone input, and so in the latter stages of today's workshop, we're going to run through a gamut of audio products from great, very portable field devices up to high end interconnects really, that let you use the premium quality xlr shotgun mikes that you probably use in most of your, uh, big productions um, and then a couple mid range options, hopefully if we get to the sphere table so a few other things to just start you on your journey to being a better filmmaker understand what coverages understand what the axis is the line and how you pretty much want to stay on one side of it on the sort of trouble that you're going to encounter if you cross it uh missan send everything that's in the scene has meaning, like you, a lot of people will watch a film and think that it's, especially if it's ah hollywood or foreign film production think that something in the background is incidental. It nothing in the frame is incidental whatsoever. So the wardrobe, the hair and makeup, the setting, the scene, how you're going to stage it. Those are important decisions that the cinematographer makes that the director makes that you have in concert with production designer andi, even as a single filmmaker, you want to begin thinking, uh, in that sort of way, do you have a particular? How would you approach those items? Yeah, that's a good question. I mean, I think that the easiest and most simple way to push a viewer in a direction is through color and through color palette, the way you dress your character, what your character wears, what color the walls are. Well, call your lighting is, is it's a it's a easy thing to tweak that's within most budgets, but you have to know, what does that mean wasn't mean when my character is dressing in blue consistently or has, you know, is interacting with somebody who has a brighter, more orange or red color, and how do I want to, um push my audience in a direction because it's really easy to actually pushing in the wrong direction and kind of be like why is this not funny? Why it's just like really sad and city this I meant to be funny here and so understanding that and studying that there's think it might be uh every frame of picture every frame picture it's a blogged and what he does is he breaks down um uh the color palettes of films and you can actually see it kind of stretched out on time when you can see how the color palettes kind of flow through the hole I'll get I'll get on actually very cool on bit's like you're saying it's very thoughtful and you know, what does it mean if there is a large picture behind our subject or you know if they're darker versus lighter there's so many different things you can tweak and mess with and as you shoot more, you learned to kind of use those little tricks and put those in your toolbox because it makes you a more powerful storyteller in general and for anybody who's resistant to learning the rules learning the rules are great because you can intentionally break the rules and I'm going to give an example built up the foundation that jonathan just laid color temperature orange has historically been used as a way of creating a warm glow on somebody introducing them as a oh protagonists ah warm, likable character and historically use color temperature blue to introduce a menacing villain well that's been used for so many decades now that it's overused so now you'll find directors or cinematographers making the choice to be like you know what? We're going to trick our audience so we're going to introduce our villain our killer in the warmest tones possible so the audience really likes tio grows to like him or her and then on ly later spring the trap on them that he's actually the aunt agnes and not the protagonist so but you have to understand those rules first to realize that you're going to play with them and in playing with them play with your audiences assumption andi it's really powerful sounds extremely powerful one not to grab a lot about this, but one really, really powerful use of score just recently in my mind is night crawler and you know, you have our our protagonist doing things that are that are really messed up on the music score kind of like reaches to these like beautiful tones and it's kind of pushing you in this like kind of cheerful way, but you're watching this person do really terrible things, so it's kind of totally messing with you right? And it feels good to be like I'm big manipulated right now I can't believe this like I caught myself like really kind of almost cheering for him in this weird way, but color could do the same thing is it can do the same thing lighting can do the same thing like all these little things, and they're not necessarily think this is necessarily rules it's just that we have behavior that we've been kind of shaped and so understanding that how we behave and how you know, why does it look scary when you shine a light below someone's face and goes up and then shadows are cast up on their forehead like it's kind of like the universal thing for a ghost story, right works the same way with cinematography? Yeah, yeah, just watching a movie and asking yourself, why did they choose to do this when you find an interesting, compelling moment will begin you on your journey to be a better filmmaker? He's probably speed through some of these, okay, we talked about learning devices, I can't stress it enough. Uh, get a better smartphone if you have an older one, say an iphone for s and older, the processing power, especially in the five s six and six plus, is off the charts of what was available before and get the largest storage capacity available you'll thank yourselves uh, later actually that's what good leading to our next couple, uh, slides um pros and cons I'll take pros and then you d'oh cons pros available we all have one just like you said the best phone is the one they had that you have what you actually think chase probably he said that first maybe even trademarked it but who knows? Everybody says it and it's true and it works in photo and video scaleable I love this ugo anywhere with three or four friends and suddenly you have a three or four camera shoot it's amazing you go traveling with a group of friends or with your family you come back with a comprehensive three hundred sixty degree view of what that experience wass instead of dad with the camera bag and you know the whatever two hundred millimeter telephoto andi everybody like come on, come on, come on uh unobtrusive uh sean and chris we're going to talk about this later but it can't be stress enough the comfort level and we were actually just talking about this the comfort level that people have with smartphones because they're around them every day and they're shooting they're friends with them they're being shot with them they're taking selfies with um makes anybody incredibly comfortable uh first time actors definitely documentary subjects probably um and stealth shooting if you want to go places where they would never allow camera museum I don't know if I should have the cake for a shooting without permits but you can go a lot of places with a smart phone without anybody raising an I s I talked about the processing power and actually did you hear about the google three sixty project with tell me about it all right, well I just read about it I'm not going to be incredibly versed on it but so interesting one of the directors of fast and furious I think for the episodes not even going to know uh the guy's name so one of the readers and our audience went to chime in and who that is we'll give him three appropriate credit but so google approach him about shooting a story in three hundred sixty dimensions and then the audience gets to choose what part of a scene that they actually want to look at very cool I mean amazing this is and the reason that they pursue this is that one of the execs behind the project said that the processing power was now greater than any place station and people didn't realize just how powerful ah mobile devices were and so this was meant to be a showcase for it and in doing so they're creating what's potentially a new storytelling genre really fascinating so hopefully somebody will have a little more information and lastly focused on what it is and not what it isn't there's so much you can do just like we showed in the user generated content real at the beginning so yeah, it doesn't have a four hundred millimeter telephoto for wildlife so what if that's what you're shooting go get the right tool for the job but there's so many things that it does well and increases your learning curve uh enormously so it's kind of difficult because again I think I like to look at I look to look at every piece of gear as a specific tool for a job wouldn't use a hammer to cut a piece of wood and I wouldn't use ah nail toe tio paint my wall somebody would yeah somebody would so but understanding the limitations of a device or any given device is really powerful so cards battery life thes batteries on these things get they they're hungry they're battery hungry there's some really cool devices that you could get like this is the movie juice pack I believe so you can slip here and obviously you guys have seen this before you could slip your phone in there and extend your battery life but you know about her life is limited you can't just swapped the battery out of the iphone for sure storage capacity if you do go with the smaller devices sixteen gig devices when you start shooting higher data rates would really once you get a taste of the higher data rates it's hard to go back to be completely honest so you start shooting higher data rates you're going to start using up a lot more space, and so you have to come up with a really good work flow to offload stuff, so obviously you can't pop a card in and out of of the iphone yet, but I just wanted to interject on that specific point apple, the rumor mills, right, that there's going to be no more sixteen gig iphones and thirty two is going to be the lowest you can get with the success or whatever it's called that's. Great. Yeah, and I think it's showing that they're taking mobile video so seriously and realizing that they're gonna have a lot of empty storage users that they continue sixteen gig phones. I mean, I know the scene with stills I fill my phone up was still that love I'm just a, um, avid photo snapper, so I know I know that I always regret it if I don't get the largest device that I can afford. Um uh, wait, um, could be kind of shaky, really. I mean, I think before the optical, our cinema stabilization, you lean up against the wall there's this thing, you kind of get with smaller devices that's, kind of a micro jitter that really kind of gives away anybody who's shot with a dslr like a smaller, like a black magic pocket camera, which are really great little cameras, but you kind of get a vibration that happens and that can really happen easily with mobile devices. So having some way to increase the the size of your device is really powerful and really useful. Moped is good for that, actually, yeah, mo feet move. He does a really good job with that. And older older devices don't have image stabilization or they have more of a slower shutter sampling speeds. You kind of get that jell o we really shutter look and your device and get hot. If you're shooting, a lot starts to build up and you can be, you know, problematic. And then obviously, you're optical choices are limited. There are some really cool stuff coming out. I think we're gonna go into it later, right? Right, right? Yeah. I mean, that's borderline, whether it's. Yeah, even the con. I mean, there's some really, really cool things that I think the tangerine guess and speak this some optical adapters you can use that aren't even available for larger dear solares and a look that is so cool. I'm very I'm green with envy and I cannot wait to implement this in my next project, so very cool.