By Mintimer Avila |Online Editor|
The Sundance film “Tangerine” has been drawing attention for its story and characters, but the biggest surprise comes from the camera that was used to film the movie, the iPhone 5s.
Indie film director Sean Baker had the challenge of presenting a powerful story with a small budget.
Baker ultimately decided that the iPhone would be a perfect fit due to its size and portability, according to yahoo.com.
“Everyone out there has a mobile phone with a video camera and everyone is shooting videos of themselves every day. That allowed us to be inconspicuous and not intimidate first-time actors and people on the street and shoot clandestinely,” said Baker after a screening of the film.
Using an iPhone, however, can result in some technical limitations especially for a film as ambitious as “Tangerine.”
The biggest drawback of using an iPhone for a film is the 16:9 video format that results from Apple’s hardware, according to The Verge.
Modern films are usually recorded in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This format can capture wider shots that result in more action and energy, according to The Verge.
The software behind the camera is also lacking many professional features that are necessary, such as control over the exposure and color temperature.
Finally, the size of the phone can present another issue, shaking. The slightest movements can result in bad shots, according to The Verge.
Baker’s solution to these problems was simple: a Steadicam for the shaking, Filmic Pro, an $8 app filled with professional features and a prototype lens from Mooondog Labs to record better, according to The Verge.
Baker said the lens was the key ingredient that “truly elevated [Tangerine] to a cinematic level.” He adds that he might not have even attempted to create the film without the lens.
Smartphone adoption rates grew at a decent pace when they were first introduced, but it wasn’t until the release of the iPhone in 2007 that the market truly exploded with a demand for smartphones with rapidly growing popularity, according to phonearena.com.
Two years later the market quickly jumped from 10 percent to 40 percent in the U.S, according to phonearena.
Shortly after, Apple released the iPhone 4 in 2010 which was capable of recording in High Definition.
It didn’t take long for film makers to see the potential of the iPhone as more than just a phone.
In 2011 film makers Park Chan-wook and Chan-kyon won an award at the 61st Berlin International Film festival for their short “Night Fishing”.
The film took 10 days to record using an iPhone 4 and a crew of of 80 people, according to iphonefaq.org
That same year, producers Matt Dessner and Corey Rogers started “The Original iPhone Film Festival” to promote filming with the goal of showcasing creativity, according to iphonefilmmaker.com.
Contestants were only allowed to use iPhones and despite that limitation their festival drew in over 250 contestants, according to Yahoo.com.
Fast forward to 2015 and its now possible to create a high quality, full length feature film such as “Tangerine.”
Technology has grown to a level where anyone can just reach in their pocket, pull out their smartphone and express themselves in a way that couldn’t be done until recently.