How we watch is changing
This isn’t necessarily to do with smartphone filmmaking, but smartphone film-watching. Even just a decade ago, it was relatively rare- and quite expensive indeed- to buy a ‘smartphone’ that could access and play video through the internet. It was around ten years ago that the first iPhone was released, and although it was popular, it was simply one among many phones rather than the hegemonic beast it is today.
Today, though, the ease with which we can watch movies on smartphones is changing how we consume not just film, but all media. Whereas before, we might get our news at ten o’clock from the BBC or ITV, now we find things out on the go through news apps. Similarly, sites like Netflix have changed how we watch film: it’s completely ordinary to see people on the way to work watching films or TV through either Netflix, iTunes or Hulu.
This is partly down to the fact that Wi-Fi has become far more common on trains, buses and at cafés. It’s also because data plans are cheaper and data can be downloaded faster through a 4G mobile connection. Ten years ago, it was practically infeasible to watch films of real length on smartphones without constant buffering and poor quality, but today we can watch TV and film in high resolution wherever we go (except through train tunnels; they still haven’t figured that one out).
How we film is changing
It’s not just how we consume media that’s changed, it’s how we create media, film included. If you take a quick peek around YouTube, you might get an idea of the general quality of smartphone filmmaking: shaky and unstable, poor quality audio and strange aspect ratios abound. But here’s a few smartphone filmmaking tips that take into account the way that cinema is changing for the better:
- Camera equipment for smartphones is making films shot on iPhones and Android actually look good. Tripods and stands, 35mm lenses and even editing software apps mean that you can shoot a professional film just with your phone. The first film shot on an iPhone, for instance, was called Night Fishing– a half an hour short shot through a 35mm lens. A more recent film called Tangerine used an anamorphic lens to achieve the wide-angle look of professional films, but was still captured with an iPhone 5.
- You don’t have to stick to traditional filmmaking. A recent film, STARVECROW, was billed as the world’s first ‘selfie movie’. But it wasn’t just a gimmick; it was part of the story, which was supposed to highlight the topics of surveillance, self-surveillance, narcissism and voyeurism. It was tapered down from over 70 hours of semi-scripted and improvised footage into an 85 minute feature film, which is really worth a watch.