iPhone 4S HD Video Test
So I was out taking a walk scouting a location a couple days ago while I’m down here in Cornwall, and had an idea. I was just taking photos on my iphone to see how they came out when graded black and white (because I’m a complete geek like that), and as I was about to leave I thought ‘why I don’t I test out the video on the iphone too and see how it pans out?’.
The location is one I’ve gone on about a few times to you guys on here, and I regularly go back to check if anything is happening there to see if it’s being left alone. It’s near enough deserted apart from a few walkers on the coastal path that goes along it and has a lot of great landscapes and features. It’s man meets nature, but when man has left, and nature is now taking back everything. The land of the apocalypse. Im also still waiting for the right band and the right song to come along to use it. The complex and the headland which you can see in one of the shots (two fields split apart) are raring to go.
There’s been a lot of people that have naturally done these sorts of videos but I felt that I wanted to do my own take on it. An iPhone is a great tool when used in the right circumstances, and it allows you to otherwise collect footage you might not have been able to grab before. Especially now with the lock screen’s quick camera function where you just place your finger over the camera logo and flick up. Genius.
There have been the people out there who have gone “you can shoot a music video on an iphone now you know!” and that probably is a valid statement. Yes, you could shoot a music video on an iphone….. if you wanted to look like a complete and utter twat. It harkens back to the saying that floats around these days, that it’s sad we now check the time on our phone rather than a watch. I think the iphone should be wholly praised as a piece of good ‘low-fi run & gun’ camera equipment. I’ve actually just used a piece of footage in a release that’s coming up, one night after I’d been out with a band hanging out. Everyone was drunk, I didn’t want to take a DSLR with me, so I shot everyone hanging out and also got an interview with someone (I was drunk too ok haha). But this footage I’ve sped up, graded and will be using in a documentary release which is coming up.
The point to remember with the iphone, and other pieces of new tech like it, is that they are multitasking devices which provide a swiss army knife of options, but are not a substitute for the real thing. Especially if you’re a professional or aspiring professional. it’s like going into a dangerous forest; a hunter wouldn’t choose a swiss army knife over a machete. They’d start hammering through the foliage and after about 5 minutes they’d realise that the swiss army knife was indeed the most stupid of choices they ever could have made. Not to mention the fact they look (as I said), like a complete wanker. But there are those instances where he’d be sat by a river, and would need to cut a piece of fishing wire, and in that instance the swiss army knife would be perfect. Do you get what I mean?
It’s a simple equation really. A multitude of tools helps anyone do their job. The iphone is that piece of gear, especially now it’s got 1080p video which is phenomenal considering the size of it. But lets get down to the nitty gritty and what I found.
Firstly as you can imagine, keeping this little bad body steady is one hell of a job. Especially when you’re a 6 foot 2, all thumbs oaf like myself. So I had to resort to using my left forearm as a sort of ‘flat surface/impromptu rig’. Failing that I found a near by surface to rest it on. My phone is in a griffin rubber mesh case, which is really really great. It means you can rest the phone down on a surface and it has a bit of protection from being scratched, and a grip to whatever you’re connecting it to. I’d recommend people getting one of those ‘spider mini tripods’ as they are about the size of your hand, and it means you could put the phone anywhere, and even attach it to things like a claw. I’m going to buy one asap.
Another thing with the camera to note is where the mic is located. If you are recording audio (and don’t expect much in the way of quality) then be mindful of where you hand is. The microphone is located on the left of the base. You can see the layout by clicking this link. In windy conditions it’s pretty much game over as you’d expect. The audio comes out sounding like darth vader’s mic has been incorrectly placed and has ended up his right nostril canal rather than under his mouth. You get the picture. But I have used earlier iphone models to record audio to an ‘acceptable’ level. Want an example? Go watch the crime in stereo video. The interviews were recorded on an iphone on it’s own, in a laundry room in the basement of a hostel. It did the job well, and again, sometimes it’s a matter of grabbing the moment any way you can. The iphone does that job very very well.
I tried walking and shooting with it (shot not put into the video) and found that the iphone has a steady shot setting built in which tries to make things a little smoother. The vibe of this setting is that you get a shot which looks like it’s been run through apple’s smoothcam option in final cut. It’s ok, but it will never beat a nice glidecam y’know?
I didn’t not use any smooth cam on this video, because I wanted to portray the footage rawly in that sense, to show how my trying my absolute best to hold it steady, got these results. Colour grade wise the footage really behaved well. I did a basic grade in magic bullet and added in some sky filters etc, to see how far I could take things. All in all it looks perfectly acceptable. So if you have the spider tripod and were shooting stuff, I don’t think the average joe would be able to tell the difference. I mean they are using GO PRO cameras in many broadcast programmes now as they are cheap, quick, easy and provide great ‘action shots’. It’s a ‘if the cap fits’ kinda deal. But as I said before, this camera is not a substitute for the real cinematographer or director. It’s a means to an end, and anyone who tries to argue that, you should just humour. There’s a lot of degradation of this job these days because everyone thinks they are a cinematographer. The truth of the matter is, cameras like this just allow the consumer to go a little more ‘pro-sumer’, and that’s where the buck stops. Those types of people will never last the long run, and those types of people would never dedicate more time than they had to, to anything creative.
I would give this device 3 out of 5 chainsaws for it’s practicality, basic functions, and ability to be quick draw off the mark against those situations which drop out of the blue you want to capture. Mums and Dads will love it because they can film their 3 year old’s every move with ease, and then bore the hell out of coworkers more than ever. Documentary directors will feel more at ease that they can put down their camera one evening for a brief break without feeling too guilty, because yes, they have a camera in their pocket. And smart ass pretentious assholes can taunt all us pro’s with how they put their phone down on a fence last week and shot some birds flying past a sun set.
Isn’t technology great! Thanks apple.