Smartphone Cameras in a Professional Video Environment?

As we see advancements in camera phone technology people are starting to ask serious questions about the feasibility of their use in a professional environment.

Whilst cinema cameras can't currently be matched in quality by phone cameras, apps such as Filmic Pro allow you to change shutter speed, aperture and even record at 100mb/s.

After the production costs of a feature film, the money saved for using a smart phone would actually be quite minimal. You're still paying for the rigs, actors/actresses, crew, set, makeup etc

"I think that familiarity, without people even knowing it consciously gives a kind of intimacy that works really well for that piece." Steven Soderbergh

This was Soderbergh's reply when quizzed about the practicality of shooting the entirety of his latest feature film Unsane, on the iPhone X. Whilst it is feasible that Apple could be the puppet masters in a genius content marketing ploy, you can’t argue with Soderbergh’s logic that the unconscious familiarity many of us have with iPhone's video format has the potential to give us an almost voyeuristic insight into his film.

As smart phones have grown out of the simplicity of call, text and email based communication, they have increasingly become a more visual medium. This is thanks to apps like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat that facilitate platforms for us to scroll through videos designed to be shot from the very phones they are consumed on. This results in an internationally connected familiarity with a phone camera aesthetic.

Paradoxically, it is this very familiarity that makes us feel uncomfortable in Unsane. As a horror/thriller, it is natural that Unsane would aim to make its audience feel on edge. By using the iPhone, Soderbergh created an aesthetic that resonates with so many of us. That and some semi decent writing, scripting and post production helps to make a moderate success of the movie.

Obviously this is an artistic choice by the director and completely subjective and impossible to quantify its results. We just think it’s cool that less than two decades ago, the first phone that could take a picture was released to the world, it had a 0.35 megapixel camera on it. The new iPhone used for Unsane shoots slow motion video in 4K!

One of the main things the use of smart phones in feature films does is authenticate the viability of using a smart phone in a professional environment. The more they are integrated professionally, the faster the stigma behind the amateur iPhone camera man will whittle away.

Predicting the future of how far video capability will go on the smartphone is difficult, but with the advancements we’ve seen over the past 18 years, the next two decades are extremely exciting. Check out the trailer below:

If you want more information about how an iphone camera compares to a cinema camera, head here: