As an instructional technologist for performing arts my job is multifaceted. One of the aspect of my job is to look for emerging technologies that could be relevant to education within the performing arts; another aspect is to look for new technologies that could enhance creativity within or integrate with performances. Sometimes the technology crosses over between these two and sometimes it doesn’t.
Weeding through the onslaught of web searches can be like searching for a needle in a haystack, without knowing what the needle will look like! The reward comes when it translates to a piece of gear or software that helps, for instance, a faculty member to develop their curriculum, or a student to create a piece of art.
Over the summer I came upon an article in the New York Times regarding Tangerine [trailer], a recently-released film shot entirely on an iPhone 5S. Tangerine is a gorgeous piece of art that is visually satisfying and seems to lose nothing even though it was shot in such an unconventional way.
The fact that the film was shot on a mobile device intrigued me because a director chose to make a feature film with a piece of technology that utilizes computing power and tools that only a few could afford in the past, and makes them accessible to a much broader spectrum of people. As an instructional technologist for performing arts, I like the idea of the immediacy and familiarity of an object you interact with daily and carry in your pocket allowing you the creative freedom to realize a feature length film. In addition, using mobile technology for videography opens new possibilities in the classroom due to the flexibility of mobile devices. For example, a student or a faculty member could capture field recordings of video or audio and easily share them for discussion and analysis. A student could capture an idea for a dance piece and document it quickly. A melody could be captured quickly and effectively and later developed. A theatre rehearsal could quickly be captured and gleaned for script revisions or acting critiques.
The fact that the director Sean Baker pursued this unconventional method of using mobile technology to shoot his film without any apparent loss of substance is very encouraging indeed. By using comparatively inexpensive hardware (utilizing multiple iPhones), he made a real statement that mobile technology is a valid professional grade tool. The iPhones were augmented with external lenses and mounting systems and used an app called FiLMiC Pro. Additionally, Tangerine featured some sweeping shots that traditionally would have been achieved by using a dolly, but Baker out of either choice or necessity created a low-budget method by mounting the iPhones on a bike! The editing and final cuts were done on a computer including the addition of effects like color saturation and grain texture in post-production. (I described a potential workflow for this kind of scenario, including post-production, in an earlier blog post.)
We now have a mobile filmmaker’s package for checkout at the PARC. In a single case, we have iOgrapher gear, including a docking station for the iPad as well as telephoto and wide angle lens attachments. In addition, a tripod can be checked out if needed. Checked out in conjunction with a PARC iPad equipped with the MoviePro and 8mm apps, our new package could help you make field recordings, choreography documentation, record a lecture, video for a multimedia project, a feature film or anything else a Reedie can and will come up.
Come by the PARC and check out our new video and recording equipment. We will be adding to our mobile video recording package over time, so stay tuned for updates!