Cinematography : Will smartphone replace a convensional camera? by Yus Rizal

Yus Rizal

Will smartphone replace a convensional camera?

i believe the games is turn into smart phone camera, and its now new Gage of video production term , but will the smartphone replace the conventional digital camera as DSLR did to Digital video camera?

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hey Yus, this is Beth from the Stage 32 team. I just wanted to let you know I moved your post from Producing to Cinematography, as it fits much better there. Let me know if you have any questions, and all the best to you!

Rafael Pinero

I think that in order to tell the story you can use any kind of camera, even a phone, but if you're trying to raise money for a film project, investors might not take you seriously if you tell them you're planning to shoot with your phone.

Kristopher Rickards

I've not seen it, but back in 2011, the highly regarded Korean film director Park Chan Wook made a 30 minute film shot entirely on an iphone. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_Fishing_%28film%29

John Chris Lopez

I don't think iphones will completely replace traditional cameras, but they'll definitely improve and become more common place among beginning/ micro-budget filmmakers. At the end of the day, it's just another tool/option to use depending on your project and budget.

Liam Davison

If anyone remembers Sean Bakers 2015 tangerine, that film was shot entirely on iPhone 5s's, it is possible that they could replace the DSlR or even GO Pro, but I personal think it won't happen for a while.

Andrew Sobkovich

The Park Chan Wook short “Paranmanjang” is available on Vimeo… https://vimeo.com/115480849 Even Vimeo is good enough to evaluate the imaging quality and traits of this picture. Just because something can be done, does not mean it should be done. iPhones are fine for most cat videos and other home movies.

Bryan Yeater

A smartphone's inherent small sensor precludes the use of shallow depth of field, unless some type of speed booster is used, analogous to the MetaBones Speed Booster available for the Panasonic GH line. Furthermore, without support or stabilization, it's too light. Mass and inertia contribute to the cinematic look. In the end, the camera body is only one component of the equipment to shoot a film. Ultimately, technology evolves, but for the time being, shooting a serious film with an iPhone is a hack, something to call attention to yourself for the process you employed.

Summer Anderson

Not a replacement - just another tool. Options expand one's range of creativity and innovation. Some people still use VHS. It all depends on what purpose or feel you're trying to convey. Just be prepared to back it up when asked.

Andrew Sobkovich

Tools … Toys. They are different. With one you make movies to pay for your home, with the other you make home movies

Dario Lake

You can express yourself (visual story) on many different platforms or mediums. But I would say no that will not happen anytime soon on the professional level. Camera phone are just beginning to make head way. Once phones are capable of shooting Raw. then I would say they will be truly in the running.

Rafael Pinero

I don't think cellphones will ever be shooting RAW, that's too much to ask, it is still a phone, they shoot HD, a lot of films have been shot on HD, professional films.

Bryan Yeater

HD has little to do with it. It's the quality of the pixels. And their aesthetic. An Alexa pixel is better than an iPhone pixel.

Rafael Pinero

Really?

Rafael Pinero

I guess the answer to the main question in this thread is NO, a smartphone will not replace a DSLR camera, you can shoot with a smartphone if you want, you can shoot with your handycam also, but it will not replace the DSLR or the Alexa or the RED or whatever new technology that arrives, a smartphone is a phone to make and receive phone calls.

Bryan Yeater

Rafeal, yes, all pixels are not created equal. It has to do with the all of the following: - Compression - Noise - The Debayer process - The sensor size and thus focal length, which then influences the flexibility in employing shallow depth of field.

Rafael Pinero

Bryan, thanks for the details, but I was being sarcastic, not in an insulting way, thanks again for the details.

Bryan Yeater

It's often hard to tell when people are being sarcastic in online discussions. No problem, Rafael! Thanks for connecting.

Dario Lake

Anything is possible in the future. I agree as far as now, no it won't replace it.

Quentil Pompey

i think its amazing now that just about anything. that can record video could be used to shoot a story. Add a little lighting and a dreamers on his way. However, the downside, one may not take you seriously due to the traditional ways of doing things. I and many others will accept a profound story emanating from a phone but what about the "majors" will they ever. It's somewhat still a problem with some, using video instead of film.

Rafael Pinero

@Quentil, exactly, you might be praised because you shot your movie with a smartphone that you personally financed, but to ask for money to shoot your feature project with a phone? You'll not be taken seriously unless you're Scorsese

Bryan Yeater

Quentil, it's not video vs. film. Skyfall, The Avengers, Gravity, and well, nearly everything these days is shot on "video". That's not the issue. What is the issue is what happens to each pixel in a smartphone vs. the "real" "video" cameras films are preferred to be shot on. I already mentioned it in my last post.

Lauran Childs

Rafael, that was harsh. 'Tangerine' was shot on iphone with $120,000 upfront from a production company, was a hit at Sundance and is now showing all over America - maybe elsewhere for all I know.

Rafael Pinero

@Lauran, Got it, still $120,000 is Pretty low budget, if they had opportunity to shoot it with an Alexa, I think they would have, I haven't seen the film but I don't think they were pursuing the iPhone look

Rafael Pinero

Or maybe they did, what do I know? It is great though that the film got the attention it deserved... Anyway the real issue in this thread is if smartphones will replace digits cameras

Rafael Pinero

I don't think so but you shoot a film with any camera.

Andrew Sobkovich

In a discussion about cameras it is important to view some aspects of the images independent of the content. This is a promo for Tangerine. It also includes EPK material, which provides an interesting comparison between a relatively inexpensive camera used by an EPK crew and the telephone used on Tangerine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZqz9y_hWRQ Look at the scene of two actors in the Donut shop at 0:37. Both of the actors are out of focus. The skin tones are truly awful. The latitude in the scene surpasses the ability of a telephone to capture the detail in that scene. Then it cuts to a shot of an actor made by the EPK crew which looks much much better. Any professional involved in Tangerine would be embarrassed but I don’t know if anyone is embarrassed. There is no time at which an out of focus image is acceptable, no time at which missing information due to a lack of knowledge or technical ineptness is acceptable, there is no place where awful skin tones not called for within the scene are acceptable. To be polite the imaging is amateurish … sorta like a home movie. The iPhone aspect of marketing this picture is a wonderful example of whoever is responsible for the promotion making lemonade out of a lemon. Perhaps the content is interesting and a good story. Don’t know. But making bad images into a selling point is great marketing. However, if poor images as the result of being shot on a telephone is the point of the marketing, what does that say about the movie? Why would someone paying to see a picture think that it being shot on the exact same telephone they have in their pocket is a good thing? The race to the bottom is hard when the bottom keeps getting lower and lower.

Rafael Pinero

Right Andrew

Summer Anderson

So just putting this out there. iPhone/iPad 'filmmaking' how-to guide and website. I have no opinion really on this, but thought it'd be interesting to add it to our discussion. Thoughts, comments? http://www.handheldhollywood.com/book

JD Hartman

No need to waste money on anything as high end as a GoPro anymore. Just your iPhone, support rods, 35mm adapter, 35mm lens, mattbox, follow focus... What are you supposed to use for audio recording?

Lauran Childs

Surprised this conversation ran out because it's such a great question. Have also heard that Annie Leibowitz says her iphone is all she uses now.

JD Hartman

...and she is who? Never heard of the person. IMDB link please.

Bryan Yeater

She's a very famous photographer. I'd think she'd value the importance of being able to see what you're shooting by using a viewfinder when doing photography though.

Philip Goetz

I think smart phones introduce digital photo shooting and sharing to a wider audience. You then want to improve on what you are shooting. At that point you throw away your film camera and get a digital camera. Whether it is point and shoot or full manual - you have a way of saving and sharing digital photos because you learned to do so on your phone. Now you can shoot and share and print better photos... Support your locally owned camera shop. These guys are the go to where I live: http://www.precision-camera.com/

JD Hartman

Still the discussion is cameras as related to the moving image. Don't see the post as relevant. How do you hook a telephoto lens onto an iPhone? Just Use the digital zoom and accept the noise it introduces into the image?

Bryan Yeater

I'm not sure I'm happy with the blurring between amateur home video and cinematic art. And the blurring is happening. Too many high end features are embracing super low standards as some sort of "movement". And too much crap is becoming the new norm.

Philip Goetz

Not everyone has gone digital. I think a camera phone could replace a point and shoot. A camera phone can't replace a fully manual film camera or fully manual dslr or mirrorless. If you want to talk about video it used to be just a vhs camera and a vcr for playback. Now it's video clips saved in a folder. The original post said dslrs replaced video cameras. Well. Dslr cameras are worse for several reasons for many things. Hard to focus, image stabilization not solid, no audio inputs, I drank the dslr kool aid, but I took a video camera to CES and NAB and typically hand a second wedding shooter a decent video camera over a dslr any day.

Bryan Yeater

Philip, sure, regarding DSLRs. But the point is to treat a DSLR like a motion picture camera. Stabilize it. Use a monitor with zebras and focus peaking. Get your actors to hit their marks. Mark your focus points. Use a focus puller. Light your scenes. Art direct them. Write a good script. And better yet, use a mirrorless camera, but still apply all of the above.

Philip Goetz

Why not have someone else write the script, Bryan? I just keep coming back to technology, motivation and budget. That's all that's needed for endless discussion about production.

Bryan Yeater

Philip, I could shoot someone else's script if I was co-writer! Almost every better film (films which I think are better) are written or co-written by the director. Any script you write yourself is developed with a vision, and which you're passionate about and emotionally invested in.

Royce Allen Dudley

Any camera is a mere box with a lens and a method of capturing an image. No camera available so far comes with automatic storytelling, trained and talented actors, pacing, composition, lighting, aesthetic judgement, art direction, locations, or props. Not much to worry about.

Andrew Sobkovich

Lauran, you seem enamored with the idea of using an iPhone to shoot. As you are trying to get a picture off of the ground should we guess that you want to use an iPhone to shoot? If so, are you going to tell your investors up front that you are shooting on an iPhone? What do you think their response will be? Did you look at the link to the brief Tangerine EPK? Are you happy with what you see?

Richard "RB" Botto

Certainly the success of TANGERINE at Sundance this year has helped to promote this line of thinking. http://www.theverge.com/2015/1/28/7925023/sundance-film-festival-2015-ta...

JD Hartman

"........but consider renting something better than an iPhone if you really want to do your idea justice.", what for?? Stuff shot with an iPhone fits so nicely into the whole "Rebel Without a Crew", Robert Rodriguez mentality that so many Indie filmmakers buy into.

Philip Goetz

Did I mention I have lived in Austin Texas since 1999?

Andrew Sobkovich

RB Are you suggesting that the "success" of Tangerine is due, in part, to it having been shot on an iPhone?

Richard "RB" Botto

I'm certainly hasn't hurt, Andrew. Not saying it isn't a very good film by any means. But there is no question that the curiosity factor was, and continues to be, raised considerably due to the iPhone angle. The buzz up at Sundance this year on this film had much more to do with that factor - and the notion that this was a huge win for the DIY filmmaker - than the content of the film itself. Again, that's not demeaning the film. Just stating the fact that there was more talk about "how" than "what".

Mallory Johnston

I think it depends on the project. I did a student project with my Samsung s5 and it looked great quality-wise, but also, it was meant to be a Blair-Witch Project type of experimental narrative. A true DSLR has more advantages that could help your film, though. (Audio, lenses, etc.) I've learned that shooting some on a phone and some on a DSLR kind of diminishes some quality, because there's a difference that can be seen. My answer seems kind of back and forth, but I suppose it really begins with "Are you going for Pro quality or not?"

Andrew Sobkovich

RB you are right. Tangerine is a massive testament to the "democratization" of all aspects of the industry. Hopefully the boxoffice delivers what the picture deserves. Certainly those of us in the industry will pay the price.

JD Hartman

There's always the "group" where the story behind the story being filmed is more important in the filmmaker's head than the quality of the product. See this a lot in guerrilla indie filmmakers, "Man, let me tell you how we stole this location....", "F' that, no permits, no stupid crew, we screeched to a stop by the curb, exploded out of the van and while my guy scrambled to plug the clip-on lights into a streetlight base, my other buddy was rock'in the bounce board, I got the camera up on my shoulder and we rolled, no rehearsal, one take and we we gone.."

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