Director Steven Soderbergh calls shooting on Apple's iPhone a 'gamechanger,' wants to use ...

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Acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh shot his latest feature film, "Unsane," entirely on Apple's iPhone. The outcome was so positive, he called it "one of the most liberating experiences that I've ever had as a filmmaker."




While other filmmakers have shot on smartphones as something of a gimmick to get attention for their film, Soderbergh said shooting on an iPhone was not done for publicity.

"Anybody who is 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," the director told Indiewire. "That's not part of the conceit."

In particular, Soderbergh praised the 4K resolution video capture capabilities of the iPhone. He previously worked with bulkier, more expensive RED 4K-and-up cameras.

"I've seen it 40 feet tall," he said of the 4K footage captured on an iPhone. "It looks like velvet. This is a gamechanger to me."




It was first revealed last fall that Soderbergh secretly filmed "Unsane" on an iPhone. The feature is scheduled to arrive in theaters this March.

"Unsane" stars Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharaoh, Juno Temple, Aimee Mullins, and Amy Irving, with Pharoah describing the picture as having some similarities to Jordan Peele-created smash hit "Get Out." The movie was filmed last summer, meaning the best iPhone it could have been shot on was the iPhone 7 Plus.

Soderbergh has a history of experimenting in film, using inexperienced actors, unconventional shooting methods, and unique release strategies. Some of his biggest hits include "Ocean's Eleven," "Erin Brockovich," "Magic Mike," and this year's "Logan Lucky."

Soderbergh's iPhone-driven shoot for "Unsane" lasted just over a week -- far shorter than a typical feature-length production takes to wrap. The director even began editing the film on set, letting the actors see a near-final product before they finished their parts.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 44
    Guessing he used the app called “Filmic Pro”? It’s the only app I know of that enables a reasonable range of options to fine-tune image capture to the point where it’s usable for professional use. This app was also used years ago for an Academy Award winning feature that was shot on an iPhone (the name of which escapes me).
    edited January 2018 tmayrepressthisjony0
  • Reply 2 of 44
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 750editor
    Guessing he used the app called “Filmic Pro”? It’s the only app I know of that enables a reasonable range of options to fine-tune image capture to the point where it’s usable for professional use.
    I reached out to his production company last fall in an attempt to find out what equipment he uses (apps, lenses, gimbals, etc.). Unfortunately, I didn't get a response, but I am sending another request today.
    StrangeDayscaladanianlolliverrepressthisSpamSandwichAirunJaewatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 44
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,863member
    Guessing he used the app called “Filmic Pro”? It’s the only app I know of that enables a reasonable range of options to fine-tune image capture to the point where it’s usable for professional use. This app was also used years ago for an Academy Award winning feature that was shot on an iPhone (the name of which escapes me).
    Searching for Sugar Man?

  • Reply 4 of 44
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,762member
    Soli said:
    Guessing he used the app called “Filmic Pro”? It’s the only app I know of that enables a reasonable range of options to fine-tune image capture to the point where it’s usable for professional use. This app was also used years ago for an Academy Award winning feature that was shot on an iPhone (the name of which escapes me).
    Searching for Sugar Man?

    "Tangerine" as well, shot on an iPhone 5s with Filmic Pro; won lots of awards.
    minicoffeeAirunJaewatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 44
    Soli said:
    Guessing he used the app called “Filmic Pro”? It’s the only app I know of that enables a reasonable range of options to fine-tune image capture to the point where it’s usable for professional use. This app was also used years ago for an Academy Award winning feature that was shot on an iPhone (the name of which escapes me).
    Searching for Sugar Man?

    IMDb says, "Some parts of the documentary were shot on an iPhone App called 8mm Vintage Camera after the producers ran out of film for an expensive real 8mm camera."

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2125608/trivia
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 44
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 750editor
    The final scene of “The Florida Project” was shot on an iPhone, surreptitiously. I believe the rest of the movie was shot somewhat traditionally, however. 
  • Reply 7 of 44
    zroger73 said:
    Soli said:
    Guessing he used the app called “Filmic Pro”? It’s the only app I know of that enables a reasonable range of options to fine-tune image capture to the point where it’s usable for professional use. This app was also used years ago for an Academy Award winning feature that was shot on an iPhone (the name of which escapes me).
    Searching for Sugar Man?

    IMDb says, "Some parts of the documentary were shot on an iPhone App called 8mm Vintage Camera after the producers ran out of film for an expensive real 8mm camera."

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2125608/trivia
    Here is a good Super 8mm camera from eBay:  https://www.ebay.com/itm/BEAULIEU-4008-ZM-4-super-8-mm-film-camera-Schneider-Kreuznach-6-70-f-1-4/253395952903?_trkparms=aid=222007&algo=SIM.MBE&ao=2&asc=49917&meid=5e93ea049efd41c3bac6a95029354fc4&pid=100005&rk=2&rkt=6&sd=162878042676&itm=253395952903&_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851
  • Reply 8 of 44
    I'm surprised that Soderbergh would describe the experience as "liberating." To me it would be "restrictive" having only one lens, no time code, and having to override all the automatic settings.

    But he's a famous movie director and I'm just some putz, so I'm gonna assume there are benefits I'm not recognizing.

    StrangeDaysrepressthisrandominternetpersonjony0
  • Reply 9 of 44
    I'm surprised that Soderbergh would describe the experience as "liberating." To me it would be "restrictive" having only one lens, no time code, and having to override all the automatic settings.

    But he's a famous movie director and I'm just some putz, so I'm gonna assume there are benefits I'm not recognizing.

    So help me out here. I understand the reliance on timecode back in the day when you needed your editing decks to seek out specific clips for cuts and/or needed to cross-match back to film.

    But is it really necessary in a world [cue announcer voice] where films are shot and edited digitally? I mean, you bring your clip onto your timeline, pick the start/end frames, and bada-bing.

    Serious question.
    repressthisjony0fastasleep
  • Reply 10 of 44
    hmlongco said:
    I'm surprised that Soderbergh would describe the experience as "liberating." To me it would be "restrictive" having only one lens, no time code, and having to override all the automatic settings.

    But he's a famous movie director and I'm just some putz, so I'm gonna assume there are benefits I'm not recognizing.

    So help me out here. I understand the reliance on timecode back in the day when you needed your editing decks to seek out specific clips for cuts and/or needed to cross-match back to film.

    But is it really necessary in a world [cue announcer voice] where films are shot and edited digitally? I mean, you bring your clip onto your timeline, pick the start/end frames, and bada-bing.

    Serious question.
    Since audio isn't recorded in the iPhone, a method of syncing sound to picture is required. Of course, as director, that's not Soderbergh's problem! The pain-in-the-ass is suffered by someone way blow his pay grade. :)
  • Reply 11 of 44
    tmay said:
    Soli said:
    Guessing he used the app called “Filmic Pro”? It’s the only app I know of that enables a reasonable range of options to fine-tune image capture to the point where it’s usable for professional use. This app was also used years ago for an Academy Award winning feature that was shot on an iPhone (the name of which escapes me).
    Searching for Sugar Man?

    "Tangerine" as well, shot on an iPhone 5s with Filmic Pro; won lots of awards.
    Yes, that's the one I forgot the name.
  • Reply 12 of 44

    I'm surprised that Soderbergh would describe the experience as "liberating." To me it would be "restrictive" having only one lens, no time code, and having to override all the automatic settings.

    But he's a famous movie director and I'm just some putz, so I'm gonna assume there are benefits I'm not recognizing.

    I believe Filmic Pro embeds timecode into the clip data. I may be mistaken on this.
  • Reply 13 of 44

    I'm surprised that Soderbergh would describe the experience as "liberating." To me it would be "restrictive" having only one lens, no time code, and having to override all the automatic settings.

    But he's a famous movie director and I'm just some putz, so I'm gonna assume there are benefits I'm not recognizing.

    I believe Filmic Pro embeds timecode into the clip data. I may be mistaken on this.
    I found this article which mentions time code: http://www.idownloadblog.com/2017/10/12/filmic-pro-hevc-shooting/
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 14 of 44
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    I’ve used filmic pro since the first version , indeed it is a great app.

    for someone who already storyboarded their story and have a good script, being able to do Édits close to final right away must indeed be liberating, this can be right be used as retroaction in the creative process
  • Reply 15 of 44
    tshapitshapi Posts: 292member
    IF i had to take a guess, it’s liberating. Because if have him more control. What is one of the reasons a regular shoot takes 6-8 weeks. Set up, and multiple takes. And large crews and casts.  Remember he wrote sex lies and videotape in a single week.  Using iPhones probably gives him freedom to move around and not lug around 10k cameras on tracks and Dolly’s and such.  It also allows for him to shoot in an unobtrusive way which. Helps get more realistic performances becuase they may or may not realize the camera is there. 
    StrangeDayswaverboySpamSandwichmacguiAirunJaerandominternetpersonlolliverjony0
  • Reply 16 of 44

    I'm surprised that Soderbergh would describe the experience as "liberating." To me it would be "restrictive" having only one lens, no time code, and having to override all the automatic settings.

    But he's a famous movie director and I'm just some putz, so I'm gonna assume there are benefits I'm not recognizing.

    I believe Filmic Pro embeds timecode into the clip data. I may be mistaken on this.
    I found this article which mentions time code: http://www.idownloadblog.com/2017/10/12/filmic-pro-hevc-shooting/
    Filmic embeds time-of-day timecode into the video, but it will neither slave to nor be master to any other device, so everything is running on its own clock. Good enough for basic housekeeping, but nowhere near close enough for matching audio or a second camera. That's not an insurmountable obstacle, but it is a bit of a pain for people in post.
    edited January 2018 ireland
  • Reply 17 of 44
    Sync can be achieved a few ways.  Since it is possible to record 2 channel of audio on an iPhone, production audio could be laid down onto one side as a sync track.  Additionally, timecode functions as an audio signal.  It could be generated by an external source and recorded onto the second audio track.   This would be plenty to sync multiple cameras in post.
    Rayz2016SpamSandwichtmayrandominternetpersonjony0
  • Reply 18 of 44
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,161member
    tshapi said:
    IF i had to take a guess, it’s liberating. Because if have him more control. What is one of the reasons a regular shoot takes 6-8 weeks. Set up, and multiple takes. And large crews and casts.  Remember he wrote sex lies and videotape in a single week.  Using iPhones probably gives him freedom to move around and not lug around 10k cameras on tracks and Dolly’s and such.  It also allows for him to shoot in an unobtrusive way which. Helps get more realistic performances becuase they may or may not realize the camera is there. 
    Soderbergh is still using a camera dolly, gimbal, and very expensive lighting equipment to film with the iPhone. 
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 19 of 44
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,604member
    He looks like an intelligent Woody Harrelson. 

  • Reply 20 of 44
    colinngcolinng Posts: 108member
    Oh this Apple page mentions how some independent filmmakers shoot with iPhone: 

    https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2018/01/emerging-la-filmmakers-create-short-films-with-small-budgets-and-big-ideas/

    Includes such tidbits as:

    Fortunately, their metadata was automatically organized after being imported straight into Final Cut Pro X from Shot Notes X and Lumberjack, along with the secondary source audio via Sync-N-Link X, which spared days of hand-syncing.


    SpamSandwichrandominternetpersonjony0
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