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How to shoot an entire million dollar TV show only on iPhones

What happens when you take away the most powerful tool a Cinematographer has to do this job? That's what me and my friend DP André Brandão faced when we had the challenge to shoot an entire TV show using only iPhones.

The producers are from a big French studio called Canal+ and they actually had the money to be shooting this on Alexas, but no, they specifically wanted the whole show to be shot on iPhones, and not on fancy adapters and rigs that add a 50 thousand dollars to the phone. They wanted it to be shot on bare phones, no tricks.

I had just finished shooting in Detroit a project where I was using an Alexa Mini with a set of Cooke Anamorphic lenses....

If you know a little bit about this world you know that that camera and those lenses are probably on the top ranks of all gear out there. It's the best of the best available. Now take a minute to imagine that, going from that to a shoot where our camera table looked like this:

On the previous job with that Alexa and Cooke combination everything I pointed the camera at just looked beautiful. Perfect volume, separation, bokeh and all... Now everything I pointed my new "camera" at looked like crap!

So then comes the challenge: we couldn't count on a great camera or even on color correction to make the show look good. We needed to think outside the box, do great lighting and be inventive on ways to frame and to move the camera to hide its flaws and enhance its qualities.

The first step as always is research and tests. I spend a few hours looking at how the iPhone 6S (the best at the time) performed in all conditions. Really all conditions, light levels, motion, color temperatures, fixtures, mixed colors etc...

this is a very interesting comparison of noise on different ISOs:

Iso comparison for iPhone6s

Every detail is recorded and analysed.

After all the testing we got to a few guidelines for how to get tha best possible image off an iPhone 6S. I'll lay them here for you guys:

(This post is being worked on!... meanwhile here is some behind the scene pics!)

Want to know more about this? send me an email

Our great first AC

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