Is There Really a Movie Studio in Your Pocket?.

You may have noticed music videos, billboards, and even movies advertising the fact that they were “shot on iPhone.” The idea that a famous artist would allow for a music video with the potential for millions of views to be shot on a phone seems absurd. Yet as we see these videos becoming increasingly common, it’s clear why an artist like Selena Gomez is okay with the idea. The footage is incredible. In fact, if it weren’t for the iPhone advertisement within the video, most viewers would have no idea that it wasn’t made using professional camera equipment.  This leads to the inevitable question...can everyone be a videographer now? We already know that more and more brands see video as the best way to capture the attention of distracted consumers. As brands consider the next steps in their digital marketing campaigns, shooting video footage on a smartphone might seem like a good idea. Consumers are now glued to their phones, so why not be relatable and shoot the content with a phone as well? In fact, plenty of people market to consumers this way already. Take social media influencers—they shoot everything via phone, allowing them to constantly communicate while on the go. Followers relate to this approach, which helps make influencers’ content feel more genuine and real. That’s not the only advantage, either—when trying to compete with all of the other advertisements crowding the market, a lot of brands might see shooting footage on an iPhone as the cheaper, easier method.  However, contrary to popular belief, shooting compelling footage on a phone is not that simple. When deciding how to create your digital video strategy, it’s important to take a few factors into consideration. Is it smart to use an iPhone? Is it cost effective? With iPhones in the hands of people who are not trained in the cinematic arts, is it now possible for an amateur to create a professional video product on their own? As brands consider this method of video production, they need to look beyond the upfront savings. Finding a talented group of videographers is still key. Let’s consider professional, mainstream “shot on iPhone” videos like Selena Gomez’s video for her song Look At Her Now. With 118,361,376 views and counting, the video has clearly made an impact. One viewer commented, “the fact that this whole thing is done on iPhones is mind blowing” in response, and many others joined in with similar praise. These reactions prove that the quality is still impressive to the audience, despite the device used to film the content.  However, it's important to consider all aspects of the music video. First, Selena Gomez herself admitted that the video used “about 20” iPhones to capture all the footage. Second, it was filmed entirely on a professional set. The set was built to create a unique space for Selena and her dancers to perform their choreographed moves. That set was also created with lighting, choreography and camera angles in mind. The video clearly had a well-developed shot list, a multi-person camera crew and a vast array of video angle options. Beyond that, every person in the video had a makeup artist and costume designer contribute to their overall look. No part of this video was made without professional input. It’s clear that the crew put large amounts of time and money into its creation.  However, not all “shot on iPhone” videos are created by famous professionals with talented teams. Just take a look at Jordan DePaul’s music video for his song Save My Breath. With only 900 current views, he is not reaching as wide of an audience, and he is clearly not working with a big budget. Unfortunately, although this video is shot with the exact same equipment as Gomez’s, there are significant differences between the two, beyond the artists’ relative fame. The footage is shaky, with only one angle for the entire video. There is no professional lighting, set, costume design, or choreography. It’s hard to argue with the fact that this video looks amateur compared to the previous example. 


Comparing these two videos makes it clear that there are many factors to consider prior to choosing to film a video product using a smartphone. Even if you do go the smartphone route, the cost of production is still going to be high if you want the final product to look and sound professional. Every professional video shot on the iPhone has been made with the aid of at least some of these tools: drones, a cinematic lens attachment with a wireless follow focus on a gimbal (a pivoted support that lets the camera rotate, while following and focusing in on the action), or a phone attachment to a motorized, remote-controlled vehicle.  As you debate whether this new alternative for filming video footage is a good option for you, make sure you are carefully considering all the factors that go into video production. Try to remember that it is not the camera quality, but the skill of the team behind the camera that matters most. If you are still looking for a quality video, you are going to need a skilled production team armed with the right resources. Even professional videos “shot on iPhone” require huge amounts of technical knowledge and effort to produce a quality result. Don’t assume that simply having an iPhone will be enough.


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