HD Smartphone Cameras Make High Quality Film Accessible to All

Technology is becoming more and more accessible for all. As a matter of fact, one third of Americans own a smartphone. So it’s no wonder plenty of consumers have started to use their smartphone for more than just location-based apps and are transitioning into creating media. With apps that allow the user to edit music, take HD video and edit photos on the fly, perhaps the time has come for all of us to take a shot at media production. Forget citizen journalism – this is citizen production.

With the birth of the new Apple baby, the iPhone 4S, video production has climbed yet another level. Although the iPhone 4 did include the HD video, the definition was 720 pixels while the new iPhone is equipped with 1080p (and if that means nothing to you, take a look at this article to understand the difference between 1080p and 720p.) Basically, this means that not only can your tiny little iPhone capture high quality video, but it can capture it at a high enough quality that it will look good on a top-of-the-line television, with the same definition as the shows we watch. Up-and-coming bands are using the iPhone too. Check out the official video below from FLAKJAKT shot completely on an iPhone 4. The band stated that “the overall goal was to produce a great, entertaining music video first and foremost, regardless of what camera we were shooting.” It’s a fantastic feat that video of this quality can be created on a budget.

Due to the size and portability of smartphones (not just iPhone, you Android folks too!), it is becoming more and more commonplace for professionals in the biz to use their phones to record breaking news or report live from a scene. BBC even developed an app that streams directly to the news station to make the process even easier for their staff. Recently, Jerry Dugan of FLF Films (who has used an iPhone for elements of his work previously) said, “I for sure could see shooting a whole spot with this amazing device.”

As a Media Production grad student, I’ve started to consider the idea of turning away from the giant camera and using my smartphone. First of all, footage can still be edited in Final Cut (a popular editing software used by professionals.) Secondly, I can take it anywhere and get into tiny, hard-to-reach areas, such as recording at the ground level or close-ups that might create a large shadow with a big camera. And the bottom line is, it’s the actual shots that are taken and the editing that make the “professional” look of the film – just having HD does not guarantee that it won’t be crap.

However, there are some downsides. Smartphones are not meant to hold a ton of footage, especially of HD quality. With an Android phone, you can take out the SD card but it is still a pain. And with an iPhone, you’re not even able to do that. It’s important that the ratio of footage to what’s actually used on film is about 10:1, so a 10-minute movie will usually have around 100 minutes of footage, give or take. Therefore, it might not be advantageous to capture longer projects with your device. Probably the best way to go about things would be to use a traditional camera for a long day and a smartphone for specific quick shots such as scenery, a sunset or transportation.

The important aspect of all of this is that cameras have previously been largely inaccessible for many people. Meaning Mr. Joe High School could learn all he wanted about cinematography on his own but never be able to practice his stuff until he entered a film program or entered the field at a professional level. This barrier is now being eliminated, which will benefit all of us since budding talent will have more time to practice. Whether you are a producer or a viewer, there will be more quality work to enjoy.

Image Credit: BestBoyZ Germany

Renee Mitson I love blogging and social media. I obsess over tech, interior design, memes, cycling, and ridiculous fashion trends. From Providence, moved to Boston, Toronto is next this fall! Twitter: @reneemitson

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