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iPhone Ingenuity On-Set

August 28th, 2012 / By Angelo Lorenzo / No Comments

My colleague Ryan Kahm is DIT on the set of a feature film in northern Maine, hours from the nearest decent rental house in Boston. He calls me up to explain they are filming a large gag (stunt piece) with two RED Epics and their main camera, an Arri Alexa. Because of the set up involved, the production was hoping to have an assembly cut of the morning’s sequence by lunch break. That’s a lot of footage to offload and edit, especially considering that he’s occupied with camera operating one of the B cameras.

Using a few Ki Pro or Atomos Ninja units were out of the question. It would have been nice to record from SDI and then edit directly off the three recorders without tying up camera media and readers, but the benefits didn’t outweigh the extra cost. We brainstormed for a bit when assistant editor Dan McDonald suggested they record off the monitors using iPhones. They could mount their iPhones using well padded Mayfer clamps and c-stands in front of the monitors, record the gag, and then quickly ingest the compressed footage and process an assembly cut while the rest of the crew continues the morning schedule. While I’m sure the visual quality won’t be stunning, it will fit the purpose of being a tool that decides if the sequence works or not.

It’s quite a bit different from how the iPhone is usually used on-set: a digital slate, a camera calculator, to display the script, to take script notes, and so on. It also proves that the best answer to some problems are the most blunt, not the most graceful.

Feel free to share some of your guerrilla filmmaking solutions in the comments below.

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