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Soderberg and the iPhone

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Do anyone have an opinion on Soderberg's comments as regards the new 4k iPhone.


If I were to make a feature I would use my Arri II-B, but, if Soderberg is accurate, my second feature might be made using an iPhone.


"However, the biggest story around “Unsane” might not be its release strategy. Taking a page from Sean Baker’s “Tangerine,” Soderbergh shot the whole movie on an iPhone. While Baker has said he used a phone instead of traditional cameras due to budgetary constraints, Soderbergh said he was so impressed with the quality of iPhone cinematography that he would likely continue to use phones to shoot his movies going forward.


“I think this is the future,” he said. “Anybody going to see this movie who has no idea of the backstory to the production will have no idea this was shot on the phone. That’s not part of the conceit.”


The filmmaker has experimented with digital cinematography for years, going back to 2002’s “Full Frontal,” but found that the iPhone offered unparalleled quality. “People forget, this is a 4k capture,” said Soderbergh, who was long a passionate advocate for the high-end RED cameras. “I’ve seen it 40 feet tall. It looks like velvet. This is a gamechanger to me.”


Asked if he would commit exclusively to shooting on iPhones going forward, he replied, “I’d have to have a pretty good reason not to be thinking about that first… There’s a philosophical obstacle a lot of people have about the size of the capture device. I don’t have that problem. I look at this as potentially one of the most liberating experiences that I’ve ever had as a filmmaker, and that I continue having. The gets that I felt moment to moment were so significant that this is, to me, a new chapter.”"


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He's delusional.

 

Whenever you see a famous filmmaker saying something like this, he's doing two things at once.

 

1) Promoting his video

2) Lowering standards so there's less risk of any newcomers mastering actual film and showing they're better than he was when he used it.

 

It's also funny because he mentions it looking good at 40 feet tall, and the only way you get to find out if that is true is by paying money to go see it 40 feet tall.

 

I just watched IT (2017). It was shot on an Alexa. The cinematography is top-notch, but the image quality of video makes it look like something made for Netflix.

 

Use that Arri 2B, then you can show the world you can make a movie that looks better than something shot by Soderbergh. ;-)

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Rather film 'looks' better or not, the format is no longer common place. It could be argued that vinyl sounds better than CD's, but that doesn't mean the world is going to suddenly give up their iPods and CD players for an old record player. Film is nostalgia, and there will always be those who decry new technology as inferior - just look at vinyl purists - but the reality is, it doesn't matter --- the vast majority of the world switched to CD's and downloads, making vinyl an extremely small niche market. This is the same thing that is happening to photo-chemical film. In this world, Humans will always try to find more convenient ways to do things, and digital has done that. No longer are you shooting blind, waiting for dailies to process, etc. Many still photographers gave up film long before the cinema world did. Perhaps if the audiences threw a bigger fit over the switch, things might have stalled or slowed down; instead, the audience were mostly indifferent. Why is this? Because while film and digital purist can usually tell the difference , modern professional digital cameras produce images almost identical to their film counterparts, and 99.5% of the world are not purist enough to see the difference.

 

As for an iPhone, I don't know - I'm sure the image is okay. Honestly, I have never seen anyone attempt anything serious on one.

Edited by Landon D. Parks

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It depends on the type of film you're making how appropriate an iPhone would be. There are limitations with the highly compressed media and the sensitivity of a small sensor, plus you would have to pretty much nail the look and exposure in camera.

 

It gets a bit silly if you've got a full feature film lighting rig, then shooting on an iPhone just for the sake of it.

 

"Tangerine" was shot on an iPhone, but it was budget reasons. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tangerine_(film)

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Its an exciting time where the image from a phone can look decent on a big screen.

 

Of course there are many better cameras (digital and film) in terms of technical quality - but if Soderberg likes the look and probably appreciates the simplicity of operation then it makes sense. If your self shooting - a tiny easy to use camera has its advantages.

 

After watching Logan Lucky I get the sense that visual aesthetic is a lower priority for Soderberg behind story and performance - the lighting and exposure on that seemed rougher then his previous work.

 

If light weight digital gear free's up a filmmaker to experiment, there's nothing wrong with that. He could use any shooting format he wants so using iphone represents a specific choice and Soderberg knows what he's doing.

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I mean in the end it really doesn't much matter what camera you're on if you've the budget in lighting, grip, and time, to cover it's short-comings. I honestly really tune out whenever I hear anyone say I'll only ever shoot on X going forward. That's great, good for you, but honestly, I think people need to be open to the right equipment for the project at hand, and not necessarily what they're more comfortable with.

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No matter whether the camera is a phone or an IMAX rig. Doesn't change the fact that in most cases, you're going to want a decent lens, mattebox, rods and focus wheel on the front of it. This fact hasn't changed in over 100 years.

 

So my hunch is after he puts it onto a beastgrip with all of that, it's going to look like any other rig. Minus an orientable viewfinder. Why do that to yourself?

 

Full Frontal looked terrible. Bubble looked terrible. Erin Brokovich? Traffic? Both were beautifully shot by him and shot on 35mm. Guess which two were nominated for Oscars in the same year?

 

I guess after that kind of success you can say whatever you want. But really, after a while, you're just beating your chest about what you can "get away with". Because of who you are and what you've accomplished.

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No matter whether the camera is a phone or an IMAX rig. Doesn't change the fact that in most cases, you're going to want a decent lens, mattebox, rods and focus wheel on the front of it. This fact hasn't changed in over 100 years.

So my hunch is after he puts it onto a beastgrip with all of that, it's going to look like any other rig. Minus an orientable viewfinder. Why do that to yourself?

 

This is the first thing I thought when I read about this the other day. Is he going to use the automatic focus or block so he doesn't have to pull focus or light to a stop where everything is in focus? Once you retrofit all that stuff to the phone, you may as well just use a normal camera.

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Funny thing is, the wide-angle lens isn't even an excuse... They make lens adapters, even for the iPhone. I don't think it was a technology issue, I think he wanted to shot it that way.

 

In other news though, my Galaxy S8 has a lot better image quality than this.

Edited by Landon D. Parks

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It could be argued that vinyl sounds better than CD's, but that doesn't mean the world is going to suddenly give up their iPods and CD players for an old record player.

The number one home electronic device sold in 2015 were record players. The vinyl business today is far bigger than the CD business, with MUCH bigger profits.

 

So yes, people who have listen to music at home and have decent stereos, are buying LP's.

 

Humans will always try to find more convenient ways to do things, and digital has done that. No longer are you shooting blind, waiting for dailies to process, etc. Many still photographers gave up film long before the cinema world did. Perhaps if the audiences threw a bigger fit over the switch, things might have stalled or slowed down; instead, the audience were mostly indifferent. Why is this? Because while film and digital purist can usually tell the difference , modern professional digital cameras produce images almost identical to their film counterparts, and 99.5% of the world are not purist enough to see the difference.

Convenient doesn't mean better in any way. Anything that's difficult or tricky or more expensive, makes everyone freak out. Reality is, we are analog beings, anything that's digital goes through a translation process and no matter how much manipulation, how much calibration, how much trickery and effects, it will never look or sound like analog.

 

The audience is discerning, they do care, it's just nobody has bothered to place significance on differentiating the alternative experience. Plus, there are only around 150 screens in the US who run can run 5/70 and 15/70 theatrical content. The vast majority of them are in metropolitan areas, so if you live outside of the big cities, you aren't seeing it. I have friends who live an hour from a decent "film" theater, and they simply won't go because it's so far away. The marketing, the limited locations, the quality of the presentation, etc... So there are many "issues" it's not so cut and dry.

 

If there were 500 5/70 and 15/70 screens capable of running theatrical content + a heavy marketing campaign from Kodak to label them as something special + an effort from the studio's to strike prints, yes things would change.

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watched that Unsane trailer too...

 

If wanting to create that kind of gritty indie semi-dogma look then the iPhone seems to work very well.

Not a pretty look at all but may suit the story in some cases.

 

I personally would not want to shoot an entire movie with a vlog gopro look but if Soderberg specifically wants that look for his movie it should not harm others that much ^_^

You don't have to watch the whole movie after all if your eyes hurting too much because of the look :lol:

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The trailer doesn't look half bad. I'd be anxious to see what lens adaptors he used. I think he was able to use full cinema glass to achieve that look.

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If there were 500 5/70 and 15/70 screens capable of running theatrical content + a heavy marketing campaign from Kodak to label them as something special + an effort from the studio's to strike prints, yes things would change.

 

That is a nice idea, but 5/70 is not common, nor has it ever been. The 65 and to a greater extent, IMAX film format, is huge, requires bulky cameras, and is expensive. The sheer cost of these formats has meant that only rarely was a film ever shot on anything other than 35, and to my knowledge photo-chemical IMAX has not even been done for a feature length film. So as nice as 500 5/70 screens would be, there would be little financial incentive to make that happen, as there just isn't enough content to make it feasible. It's like suggesting theaters should upgrade to 8k projectors - why? there is no content.

 

In some alternate universe the idea is nice, but 5/70 has never been, nor will it ever be, a standard format in this universe. The reason 65/70 formats are only concentrated in metro areas is because the vast majority of people don't care about 65/70 vs 35. If you don't place your 65/70 screen in a large enough metro area, the audience willing to pay the extra amount will just not show up. Larger formats are expensive, and require higher ticket prices -- which people don't want to pay unless the whole experience is worth it. A simple 65/70 upgrade alone brings little to the table.

 

I saw the Hateful 8 in 70mm in Cleveland, and honestly didn't find it that impressive. The mystic around the format and the 'road tour' was what attracted most of the people I saw it with, not the format itself. If 70 became standard, it would quickly loose its cool factor.

 

 

The number one home electronic device sold in 2015 were record players. The vinyl business today is far bigger than the CD business, with MUCH bigger profits.

 

So yes, people who have listen to music at home and have decent stereos, are buying LP's.

 

And 3D TV sales and 3D movie tickets were also all the rage, for a couple of years until people realized it was a fad. Niche markets almost always experience a 'resurgence' for a short period of time, that does not bring it out of the niche market. Yes, sales figures are nice and all, but the overall number of people who own record players is still exorbitantly small, almost to the point of being unimportant, and the sales of digital audio capable devices obviously far outsell record players. A digital music file can be played on many things - phones, MP3 players, computers, tablets, laptops, Car stereo players... Records can only be played on record players, and usually only at home. So while records were making a comeback (I haven't seen any recent data that suggests this trend is still happening, and only Sony has started making LP available again - and still not in any large numbers), that does not mean they are not a niche market.

 

I also can find no evidence that in 2015, record players were the number one selling home electronic item. Am I led to believe that record players outsold TVs? DVD players? Hell, I'd be really shocked is record players outsold Bluray players. I'd love to see the evidence of that.

Edited by Landon D. Parks

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"The number one home electronic device sold in 2015 were record players."

 

​NO way can that be true.. in a million years.. where did you get that from..?

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Forbes listed these as the best selling electronics on Cyber Monday 2017:

Google Chromecast

Roku Streaming Stick
Apple iPad Pro 9.7 inch Wi-Fi
Galaxy Book 12”, 2-in-1 PC
Apple AirPods
PlayStation VR Virtual Reality Headset Bundle
USA Today listed the top selling tech of 2017:
iPhone
Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8 smartphone
Amazon Echo Dot connected speakers
Apple Watch
Nintendo Switch video game console
Another site listed Top Products Most Buyers Inquired On:
1 Laptops
2 MicroSD cards
3 ED TVs (50-inch and above)
4 Bluetooth speakers
5 Bluetooth headphones
6 New ATX power supplies
7 Smart TVs
8 Graphics cards
9 USB flash drives
10 Car GPS trackers
11 Android-based TV set-top boxes
12 USB 2.0 in-car chargers
13 Wireless earphones
14 Wireless speakers
15 New Pocket projectors
16 GPS personal trackers
17 New Projectors
18 New GPS vehicle tracking systems
19 New Wired earphones
20 Handheld two-way radios
Anyway, I keep searching under various key words -- "best selling", "most popular", etc. for home electronics, home tech, etc. in 2017 but have yet to see a turntable listed...
But I did find that in 2015, turntables were very popular for Amazon during the holidays:

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Amazon's top-selling home audio item was a cheap turntable from Jensen with built-in speakers. It includes a 3.5mm headphone jack, a USB port, and software for turning records into MP3s. It's currently selling for around $50.

 

​Yes as usual not quite what Tyler actually wrote.. . holiday period only.. a couple of weeks.. audio item only.. sales due to being cheap.. and it has software for making MP3 recordings :).. not really concrete evidence that record players were the number one home electric item sold in 2015.. have to wonder what planet Tyler is on sometimes..

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Did anyone mention the statistics that No Film School listed about movies shown at Sundance? Out of 247 projects that submitted data:

 

90 ARRI

37 Canon

28 Sony

15 Red

3 film

1 Panasonic

 

Now that leaves 73 with no camera listed...

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There is a Bentley commercial shot on iPhones .. the only reason being there was a new option to have built in Apple laptops in the fold down "picnic" tables in the rear.. total publicity stunt.. and reading about the production.. a ton of head aches during the shoot and huge amount of time in post basically saving the day..

 

Unless there is a reason.. budget, under cover... artistic (?) .. surely its total madness to shoot on an iPhone by choice.. why make everything difficult.. even budget wise I wonder why anyone really has to use an iPhone anymore.. with cameras like the fs5 around .. or A6500 for eg..

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I can't imagine trying to shoot something on my phone. Seems like you'd have to rig the thing way out to even make it usable, and then you're stuck with the inferior sensor. I understand the whole 'use what you have' thing, but I find it odd that a filmmaker this established would see the need to use an iPhone - unless it was just for publicity.

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I sometimes take photos with my iPhone as sort of a sketchbook, the small form factor and simple tech can be liberating -- in some ways when the stakes seem lower, you can have more fun. Here are some:

 

phone1.jpg

 

phone2.jpg

 

phone3.jpg

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