Production & Post Global Viewpoint – October 2015

Is There an iPhone Workflow In Your Future?

This summer Swiss TV station Léman Bleu equipped all of its news reporters with an Apple iPhone, microphone and a large selfie stick to both shoot stories and provide live feeds. One hundred percent of news shots are now done on the Apple iPhone.

The station’s news director, Laurent Keller says Léman Bleu actually isn’t the first station to convert to iPhones, a Scandinavian outlet apparently has done it too. He says the decision was, “…a search for lightness and responsiveness, but also a way to reduce the costs of producing a newscast.”

Once the decision to acquire on a iPhone is made, the issues become quality and downstream production.

Keller says iPhone video is different but not necessarily inferior to what a standard TV camera produces. “It’s up to us to reinvent the grammar of the image, to learn to shoot differently,” he said. The technology allows the station to go live at anytime from anywhere, either on the air or on social media.

Television station  Léman Bleu equipped each of its news journalists with an iPhone kit and they are expected to produce both live and recorded features with the equipment.

Television station Léman Bleu equipped each of its news journalists with an iPhone kit and they are expected to produce both live and recorded features with the equipment.

The portability and low cost of an iPhone may be key to a small regional channel that broadcasts only a few hours a day. But, budgets and image quality vary among stations.

Certainly this station was not the first to try using cell phones for news and Léman Bleu won’t be the last station to try using cell phones for news. Recall that Canon pushed the 5K Mark II DLSR for similar applications.

It’s more than technology

But what if in cutting costs TV stations can get an immediacy and honesty in their news reporting not happening any other way? That would be a win-win.

In 2014, Fox station in Charlotte equipped its reporters with iPads for news capture. The iPad news capture and production was combined with an “experimental” newscast format. But, after trying the technology and a new broadcast news format for 18 months the experiment was dropped.

“Plagued by technical problems and relying on journalists with little experience, it had an amateurish quality,” Mark Washburn wrote in the Charlotte Observer. “Viewers turned away.”

Iphones for movies

In September 2013, Christopher Bailey, Burberry Chief Creative Office said that his fashion firm was using an Apple iPhone 5s to shoot one of its fashion shows.

Motorized cell phone mount.

Motorized cell phone mount.

Swedish filmmaker and director Malik Bendjelloul began shooting his 2013 Oscar-winning documentary, “Searching for Sugar Man” on expensive 8mm film, but he ran out of money.

He told CNN, "It was just a very few shots left, but I needed those shots. One day I realized there was this $1 app on my iPhone. And I tried it, and it looked basically the same as the real stuff." I guess one could say his technique worked because the film was the 2014 Academy Award winner for Best Feature Documentary.

High-end car maker Bentley produced its “Intelligent Details” documentary using an iPhone. The promotional film highlights the mechanical and digital prowess of Bentley's flagship luxury sedan, the Mulsanne.

But, the documentary was not only shot entirely on an iPhone 5s. It was edited in a very special editing suite, the back seat of a Mulsanne using the built-in iPad Airs software. So much for “fix it in post”.

A wide range of options exist to help stabilize small cell phones to produce better images.

A wide range of options exist to help stabilize small cell phones to produce better images.

Called “a breakout hit” at Sundance this year, the movie Tangerine was captured exclusively with three iPhone 5s phones and an $8 video app called FilmicPro.

Don’t doubt Disney

If you are still laughing about using cell phones to capture and produce video, you may want to reconsider because at least one industry expert offers a different thought.

Speaking at the May, 2015 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences session, Disney’s chief creative officer John Lasseter said he can easily see a day when award-winning movies are produced by filmmakers using only their iPhones and GoPro cameras.

“People will tell you, ‘That’s not going to work,’ but yeah, that’s going to work,” Lasseter said. “But the reason they say that is because it’s not what they are used to.”

“The GoPro and the iPhone are here,” Lasseter said. “[They] give a vibrancy you have never been able to have before … I think a new film grammar is going to come with these things.”

If award-winning movies, commercials and documentaries can be captured and produced with an iPhone-enabled workflow, why not news clips?

Let us know what you think…

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