Professional quality video from a mobile device

It may surprise you to know that some high-level professional video productions rely on a tool that you probably already own — a mobile phone. We’ve told you about mobile journalists and documentary filmmakers who are using their iPhone as a primary camera. Additionally, there have been several Oscar and Sundance-winning films that have used iPhones, at least as a secondary camera. Plus, editing tools for mobile are getting better as more industry insiders switch to mobile tools.

We caught up with two leading app developers to find out who uses their products and how. We also asked the big question: Can you produce high-quality video with just a mobile device? The answer is a resounding “yes”.

Professional video control on a mobile device

Neil Barham is the Founder and CEO of Filmic. They make Filmic Pro, a camera app that adds superior control functions to your iOS or Android device. The company began development nearly a decade ago. Back then, mobile cameras were somewhat of a novelty. They thought that if the camera image controls were better, maybe good productions were possible. The results have exceeded expectations.

Neil recalls that their first big break came when Rolls Royce needed a video for new iPad integration in their cars. The producers thought it was only logical to produce the video on an iPhone. They turned to the Filmic app. “The first piece they did was especially beautiful; they certainly didn’t expect the results would be that good.”

Word spread in the industry about Filmic. That led director, Sean Baker, to create “Tangerine” entirely with iPhones in 2015. The full-length feature film, “Premiered at Sundance and got picked up by Magnolia pictures for domestic distribution and met a variety of international distributors.” Neil tells us. “That certainly showed us that the production value was good enough to play the biggest venues in the world.”

The iPhone cameras have increased in resolution and so has their acceptance in the industry.

The iPhone cameras have increased in resolution and so has their acceptance in the industry. Neil says that iPhones are now used in productions on almost every level. He tells us that Directors like Steven Soderbergh and Matthew Cherry are embracing mobile filmmaking.

Desktop Level Editing on Mobile

Terri Morgan is the Co-Founder of LumaTouch, which developed the LumaFusion editing app. She tells us that mobile editing is gaining traction as well. “Many journalists, especially in Europe, have completely switched to shooting on mobile, editing on mobile, and delivering from mobile.”

Terri spent many years as an editor and tells us that there is something exciting about editing with a mobile device. “It means that you’re editing more often. And when you edit more often, you just get better at editing. It’s a skill and a craft. The more you do it, the better you get.”

Of course, there are limitations to mobile editing compared to desktop. However, Terri says that it really gives you a new workflow. “You can spend more time thinking about your story. About how you want it to flow. If you need an extra shot, you’ve got your camera and your edit system in one. So, you can go right there and get that extra shot. It actually changes the flow of how your ideas come out, and how you work with your story.”

Both of these leaders say that the mobile device won’t completely replace a camera or editing system, but they both are excited about the future. As processors get better, so do their apps. It is certainly safe to say that professionals are looking more and more to the tools they carry with them.

Jeff Chaves
Jeff Chaves
Jeff Chaves is the chief creative officer of Grace Pictures Inc. and is a full-time minister with over 12 years of experience in television broadcasting.

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