FILMING ON IPHONE - LESSONS LEARNED
With the first three days of ‘What About Molly?’ in the books, I’ve had a moment to sit back, check the footage and reflect on the days that were. Fun times, amazing memories and several lessons learned, the weekend was packed full of all the things that come with making a movie. Looking back, there's things I would certainly do differently, but that’s how we learn and grow.
It wouldn’t be a day of filming if something doesn’t go wrong and things certainly did. Each day coming with it’s own unique challenges, let’s take a look at some of the lessons I learned from shooting a feature length film on the iPhone Xs.
ANAMORPHIC LENS BY MOMENT
Looking first at the glass, we’re shooting with an anamorphic lens by Moment. This amazing little piece of glass truly captures some beautiful images. As we shot, I was thoroughly impressed by the images we were producing. Beautiful shots, well lit and full of life, things were shaping up nicely, but I did run into a few issues along the way.
The first issue I ran into was how wide the lens really is. This isn’t anyone's fault but my own. Being my first time shooting with an anamorphic lens, I didn’t expect the image to be as wide as it was. This wasn’t really a huge issue, just something I had to keep in mind as I placed lights and microphones.
Aside from how wide the lens is, I also had to get used to getting much more personal with the on screen talent if I wanted to shoot a closeup. I mean, really up close and personal. Sometimes to the point where I couldn’t even utilize the tripod.
With this newly acquired knowledge, I can now move forward and film with speed and confidence in the Moment anamorphic lens, a lens I recommend to anyone looking to make a film on their iPhone.
Now let’s take a look at the application used.
SHOOTING A MOVIE WITH FILMIC PRO
Although Moment comes with it’s own native app for shooting, I chose to use Filmic Pro due to my familiarity with the program. With the ability to lock white balance and focus, this wonderful tool makes filming quick and effective, things I really enjoy when being on set.
As I’m always learning and growing, I admittedly just learned that when shooting in 24fps, you should have your shutter speed set to 1/48. This provides you with nice smooth footage when objects are moving on screen. Attempting to stay true to the 1/48 shutter, I battled most of the day. I found in some of my shots, the white balance would be off or the focus wasn’t as I expected. I’m chalking this us to user error and my lack of knowledge, but certainly something to be aware of.
The other issue I encountered was going from outside in or vice versa. With the white balance locked for a scene setup inside the home, I couldn’t do a tracking shot outside. As soon as we opened the door, light overwhelmed the camera and the entire image was a white blur. Again, this is likely due to my lack of experience, but something to be aware of.
With just a few issues shooting during the day, nothing was a deal breaker. I downloaded my footage and most of it looks great as expected. One tip, don’t delete the footage from your phone before you check in on the computer. I ran into an issue with some footage I shot at 60fps. The files are on my PC but I removed them from my phone. I have reached out to Filmic Pros support staff and I have confidence they will work with me on a solution to get this footage corrected. Props to Filmic Pro for being available to support their users.
MAKING MOVIES WITH THE IPHONE
Shooting on such a small camera has really been amazing. You can get places and capture images that you wouldn’t be able to, with bulkier equipment. The image quality looks great and I recommend this camera to any independent filmmaker looking to make a movie. With that said, there are a few things to keep in mind when shooting.
Battery life is something you will want to monitor. The nice part is, anytime I was shooting on the tripod, I just plugged the phone in to keep it charged. However if you’re doing a lot of tracking shots, hand held, your battery is going to suffer. Unlike other cameras, you can’t just switch a battery out when one dies. Again, not a deal breaker, just something to be aware of.
The other thing to be aware of is when shooting exteriors in the hot sun, the phone will overheat. I was setting up a shot and once I finally got it, the phone shut down before overheating. I didn’t see this slight delay coming and it cost me a little bit of time. Again, just something to keep in mind if you’re shooting in full Texas sun.
With the first three days of filming behind me, I highly recommend the setup of the iPhone Xs, Moment anamorphic lens and the Filmic Pro app. You can shoot quickly and effectively, capturing great images, bringing your vision to life.
Like anything else, there will be a few roadblocks along the way. Before you set out on your journey I recommend working a few days with the equipment so you know what to expect when the day comes to actually roll that camera for real.
If you have any specific questions or issues you’ve encountered with the equipment I’ve listed, please ask or share the knowledge in the comments!