Sunday, July 12, 2009

Music Video Shot w/ Iphone 3GS

It’s time to add “music video production” to the list of industries the iPhone threatens to disrupt.

Showdown Productions LLC, a small production company in Dayton, Ohio has managed to shoot a professional-looking music video using only the Apple’s new video-capable iPhone 3GS and an improvised camera stabilizer that allowed them to shoot smooth, great-looking scenes on the go.

Modeled somewhat after the Steadicam — a film industry standard that puts motion-absorbing technologies in between the lense and the camera operator’s body to allow smooth image capture during mobile shots — Showdown’s from-scratch iPhone attachment mounts the iPhone on a variety of equipment, from the two-handled technique pictured above, which looks like it could be built on the cheap, to the more expensive, official “glidecam” device shown at the bottom of this article.

Showdown’s results are impressive, as the following video for “Play” by BJSR, shot in Dayton, demonstrates.

Not bad. But the Apple iPhone 3GS is not the perfect videocamera for several reasons, including its microphone, which is unsuitable for capturing pro-level audio in many situations. But because music videos are synched to a pre-recorded song in most cases, they’re perfect candidates for iPhone production. All you need to do is record the video cleanly, and that’s where Showdown’s steady cam system comes into play.

We conducted a quick e-mail interview with Kyle Brock, producer and business-to-business associate for Showdown Productions, to find out about the pros and cons of shooting a music video with the new iPhone and find out what budding iPhone (and other phone) cinematographers can learn from their experience. The long and the short of it: the iPhone is, in fact, capable of shooting high-quality music videos, especially if you figure out a way to keep the phone steady. How and why did you (or whoever) come up with this idea?

Kyle Brock, Showdown Productions: The song was written by Ben Rivet, the main character of the video. Our primary goal for making the video was to market out to whoever we could find. [Rivet] was purchasing a new iPhone and came up with the idea to promote his music. We wanted to test the limits of the iPhone video, and show off what it was capable of. We [also] want to get as many video hits as we can to showcase the talent of Ben Rivet’s music and Showdown Productions. What was it like shooting a music video on the iPhone? Any issues or observations?

KB: Pros: The camera is very lightweight. It is easy to dump the footage from the iPhone itself to a Macbook. Once it was mounted to our steady-cam rig it was very easy to run and gun for traveling scenes. Cons: The iPhone has a built in auto-exposure feature which can cause difficulties. The battery life for the iPhone isn’t really meant to capture a lot of film exposures, so we were constantly charging it. It’s not as high-quality as a standard camera we would [normally] use for shooting, but we still feel it turned out extremely well for a phone. Click here to see the video!!

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