Micro-Filmmaking

It’s often said that the best camera is the camera you have with you, and for most of us, it would be our phone. In the still photography world, camera phones have completely destroyed the point-and-shoot camera market, and for good reason. Many of the new smartphones on the market, such as the iPhone 5 or the Galaxy Nexus 4, contain an 8-megapixel (or higher) sensor that can snap print-quality photos, as well as capture panoramas, HDR and, with some filter and image-editing apps, create beautiful looks with the touch of a button.

You’ve probably heard the term microfinancing, but how about micro-filmmaking? With today’s smartphones, 1080p video comes standard, and with camera apps such as FiLMiC Pro, you now have access to professional motion-picture camera features like audio meters, image stabilization, histograms, 50 Mb/s bit rates and more. Like the 5D Mark II before it, there’s now an entire accessory ecosystem to help you create cinematic movies on your iPhone. RØDE’s iXY is a solid audio recording solution that plugs into the iPhone’s dock connector (unfortunately, not for the iPhone 5), and Schneider Optics’ iPro Wide Duo Kit gives you a pretty great lens solution with a bayonet mount/handle, as well as fisheye and wide-angle lenses.

Speaking of the 5D Mark II, DSLRs really opened the doors to a lot of people who never had the opportunity to make movies. Still, for a lot of pro photographers or casual shooters, the learning curve in making films was still too steep. Will camera phone video explode in the same way it did for photography? The answer is yes, eventually.

For this to happen, we’ll need to see more innovative distribution channels beyond Vimeo and YouTube, and we’re just starting to see them now. Acquired by Twitter, Vine is a mobile service that lets you create short looping videos, which are similar to GIF files that you see on the web. Just like Twitter, you have restrictions, and instead of 140 characters, you have a time restraint of six seconds of video. Most of the popular videos seen on the mobile app have been comedic, but there are also really creative stop-motion animation videos and mini-narratives. Because of the Twitter platform, the marketing opportunities are vast, and like Instagram before it, we’ve already seen a number of celebrities (Paul McCartney, Kevin Smith, Tyra Banks) jump onboard to promote their brand. Another interesting recent development is that Vine is now an age-restricted app because of the large number of pornographic Vines users have been uploading.

In creative hands, Vine is a new exciting platform. Talented filmmakers can use the app more like a sketchpad, and for novice filmmakers, basic principles like shot selection and in-camera editing can be learned. Vine sort of reminds me of 5-Second Films, a film collective that produces short films containing exactly two seconds of beginning titles, five seconds of film and one second of end titles. Because of the severe time constraints and editing structure, some of these five-second films can be thoughtful and, at times, poetic. Instead of a novel, 5-Second Films and Vine filmmaking can be looked at like haiku poetry. Plus, five or six seconds of your life isn’t a huge commitment.

But how does five seconds of motion equate to being a film, you ask? Well, I’ve seen a ton of "short" film epics at prestigious film festivals that probably could have been told better in six seconds. Something to think about.

Misinformation” is a joint effort between HDVideoPro and the Sachtler Academy. The Sachtler Academy is dedicated to promoting open knowledge exchange among production professionals worldwide. Initiated by renowned camera support manufacturer Sachtler, the Academy offers a nonpartisan venue by which cinematographers and videographers can hone their talents, discuss techniques and stay updated on technical advances from various manufacturers. To find out more, visit www.sachtler-academy.com/ and www.sachtler.us.

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