Director Steven Soderbergh's shot-on-iPhone 'Unsane' feature premieres at Berlin film fest...

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in iPhone edited February 2018
Acclaimed Hollywood director Steven Soderbergh spoke to the press at the premiere of his latest feature film, "Unsane," at the Berlin film festival on Wednesday, expounding on the benefits of using an iPhone to shoot the psychological thriller.




Echoing statements made last month, Soderbergh said he will find it difficult to return to conventional filmmaking after relying on Apple's device for principle shooting.

Of note, iPhone's small size and superior image quality presented unparalleled flexibility in setting up and accomplishing shots. With its tiny format, Soderbergh was able to capture on location footage without punching holes in walls or securing bulky camera equipment to ceilings, reports Reuters.

With its built-in screen and portable form factor, iPhone also allows directors to go straight from watching a rehearsal to shooting, Soderbergh said.

There were, however, a few drawbacks inherent to iPhone's diminutive footprint. For example, the handset was very sensitive to vibrations, a characteristic that any smartphone owner can confirm. Whether Soderbergh enabled iPhone's hardware- and software-based image stabilization features is unknown, but both have the potential to reduce image quality.

"I have to say the positives for me really were significant and it's going to be tricky to go back to a more conventional way of shooting," Soderbergh said. "The gap now between the idea and the execution of the idea is just shrinking and this means you get to try out more ideas so I wish I'd had this equipment when I was 15."

Soderbergh made similar statements in an interview last month, saying iPhone's 4K footage looks like "velvet" and calling the device a "game changer."

Joshua Leonard, who co-stars alongside Claire Foy in "Unsane," said iPhone allowed the actors to stay immersed in the world of their character and that of the story while filming. Traditional movie sets often play host to large camera rigs, audio and lighting hardware, dollies, cranes and other equipment.

"There's nothing more fun as an actor than just being in the thick of the creative process when you're actually on set and not having to wait for the machine of filmmaking to catch up with the creative impulse," Leonard said.

Alongside Leonard and Foy, "Unsane" features Jay Pharaoh, Juno Temple, Aimee Mullins and Amy Irving. Pharaoh describes the film as a psychological thriller along the lines of Jordan Peele's "Get Out." The movie was shot last summer, suggesting an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus was used during filming.

"Unsane" makes its debut as one of about 400 films at the festival, but the movie is not up for the event's main prize, the Golden Bear.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    It’s so fascinating that he’d choose an iPhone versus use one of the RED cameras. The guy continues to innovate and push boundaries. By the way, “Logan Lucky” (recent movie of his) was quite good.
    racerhomie3tmay
  • Reply 2 of 15
    If the iPhone 7/7 Plus impressed Soderbergh, I wonder how many/much films/filming will be done in the future on stabilized iPhone Xs. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 15
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,971member
    Camera = $1000. 
    Camera equipment = $30,000!

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 15
    YvLyYvLy Posts: 72member
    Let me explain then: Soderbergh would be at a level, where he would choose what he wants to do and how he does it ... that includes the technical approach....
    lkruppwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 15
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    So all this quitting feature filmmaking was bullshit then.
  • Reply 6 of 15
    glynhglynh Posts: 130member
    "Whether Soderbergh enabled iPhone's hardware- and software-based image stabilization features is unknown..." Oh come on. He would have supplemented his $1000 camera with a $20,000 gimbal & $10,000 worth of audio recording equipment.
  • Reply 7 of 15

    Unsane  (2018)

    Technical Specifications

    Aspect Ratio 1.56 : 1
    Camera iPhone
    Negative Format H.264
    Cinematographic Process Digital Intermediate (4K) (master format) 
    H.264 (2160p) (source format)
    Printed Film Format DCP
    h4y3sSpamSandwich
  • Reply 8 of 15
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    It’s so fascinating that he’d choose an iPhone versus use one of the RED cameras. The guy continues to innovate and push boundaries. By the way, “Logan Lucky” (recent movie of his) was quite good.
    Will check it out.
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 9 of 15
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    glynh said:
    "Whether Soderbergh enabled iPhone's hardware- and software-based image stabilization features is unknown..." Oh come on. He would have supplemented his $1000 camera with a $20,000 gimbal & $10,000 worth of audio recording equipment.
    Why on earth would you need a $20K Gimbal?

    You can get fantastic phone gimballs for $200, if you want remotes and full dolly on all axes,  maybe $1000.

    As for audio equipment, you can get decent boom mikes for $100, second hand boom, c-stand $100 , lavalier plugged into Iphone ($100 per person) or $500 if you are using a wireless pack and connecting to a Tascam. Audio recorder, maybe $500 if he needs a lot of entry.

    Lighting, second hand $1000 gets you pro level equipment, new probably 3x at a minimum.
     But, if he's shooting in natural light in daylight most times, he would not need much lighting.

    You absolutely do not need that much

    watto_cobraMacProcornchip
  • Reply 10 of 15
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,997member
    glynh said:
    "Whether Soderbergh enabled iPhone's hardware- and software-based image stabilization features is unknown..." Oh come on. He would have supplemented his $1000 camera with a $20,000 gimbal & $10,000 worth of audio recording equipment.
    You forget it's light.  You would not need equipment designed for far heavier cameras.  He may well already of had it and used it, sure but I would bet you could use far less expensive gear.
  • Reply 11 of 15
    I expect all sound was recorded on separate multi-channel  equipment, not the iPhone. In many ways, an audience will be forgiving of video quality, if sound is good.  
    wigby
  • Reply 12 of 15
    wanderso said:
    I expect all sound was recorded on separate multi-channel  equipment, not the iPhone. In many ways, an audience will be forgiving of video quality, if sound is good.  
    Sound is typically looped in after the fact if on-location sound capture was difficult or impossible.
  • Reply 13 of 15
    wigbywigby Posts: 688member
    wanderso said:
    I expect all sound was recorded on separate multi-channel  equipment, not the iPhone. In many ways, an audience will be forgiving of video quality, if sound is good.  
    Sound is typically looped in after the fact if on-location sound capture was difficult or impossible.
    If he shot on a set, there's no reason on-location sound wouldn't have been captured just fine. Of course one of the reasons to use a small iPhone in the first place is to get into corners and perspectives that studio cameras cannot attain so maybe he was running and gunning a lot. Curious to see the final film.
  • Reply 14 of 15
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    wigby said:
    wanderso said:
    I expect all sound was recorded on separate multi-channel  equipment, not the iPhone. In many ways, an audience will be forgiving of video quality, if sound is good.  
    Sound is typically looped in after the fact if on-location sound capture was difficult or impossible.
    If he shot on a set, there's no reason on-location sound wouldn't have been captured just fine. Of course one of the reasons to use a small iPhone in the first place is to get into corners and perspectives that studio cameras cannot attain so maybe he was running and gunning a lot. Curious to see the final film.
    I personally dislike how technical filmmaking has begun. Will be interesting to see what happens to the small red camera.
  • Reply 15 of 15
    Oh FFS...

    All the ballyhoo that follows announcements about this film or that film being shot on an iPhone is ridiculous. Even more so when it's a big name auteur. The assumptions that follow about expenses associated with other aspects of the filmmaking process scaling to the cost of the camera are even more ridiculous. The guy wants to be quick and nimble, make decisions on the fly, and not have to turn to the AD and say, "how long until we can shoot it I decide to put the camera over there instead of where it's set up now?" Staying in the flow with your actors, keeping a fast pace with decisions and moving on, and enjoying the synergy of a small crew in no way means that someone is declaring Dogme 2018. They're not re-using coffee grounds at the craft services table (true indy story), shooting in the streets without lockups & permits, or capturing sound with a C-stand bought off of Craigslist and a f*#^ing $100 mic. Take a look a IMDB if you want to get a sense of the size and caliber of the crew behind the production.

    Yeah, it's cumbersome, but time code, careful slating and documentation, as well as the "slate in, roll camera, roll sound, slate, background, action" prelude to actually capturing a take is there in large part to facilitate post production for well budgeted productions. You can bet that some of the ease of flow and speedy shooting was paid for with extra time and effort in post. It wouldn't surprise me if they just told the sound dept. to always be rolling–ON EVERYTHING–because Soderbergh wasn't going to do a lot of takes and might just keep the rehearsal and say, "we're moving on."

    It seems clear that some posters here haven't even seen the trailer.
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