The release of the iPhone 6s and 6s+ is here, as well as the onslaught of first-looks reviews, opinions, and discussions about it’s new capabilities. In the filmmaking and pro production community, the discussion is centered around 4k video. And I find the reactions quite interesting. There are some who welcome it, and share in my marvel of it. But then there are those – some pretty high profile people, people for whom I have great respect – who seem to be quite upset about it.
“Why do you need 4k video on a phone?!” “It’s ridiculous! No-one is going to replace their RED cameras with an iPhone!” “No one is going to shoot feature films on an iPhone!”
It’s rather upsetting to them! Although I’m just not sure why.
In my mind, the ability to shoot 4k video on a cell phone is remarkable. I liken it to the GoPro, which ushered in 4k video at 30fps in a tiny little package under $500.
When GoPro announced the HERO2 – the industry said, “what about 4k?” When they announced the HERO3 that could shoot 4k at 15fps, the industry scoffed. “That’s not real 4k – you can’t do anything with that, except maybe a killer time-lapse.” But still, they rolled their eyes, they complained, but they waited. And I always thought that was funny.
What they weren’t doing was asking the question, why? Why would you want to shoot 4k on this throw-away crash cam? But the reality was, they couldn’t wait for it. They saw it as a new tool in their kit bag that, as Casey Neistat likes to say, “let’s you get the shot that you could never get with any other camera. And in 4k.”
And that’s how I see 4k iOS video. It’s not a replacement for anything. It’s additive. It’s another, highly convenient, inexpensive way to capture extremely high quality content. They say the best camera is the one you have on you. And what’s the one device that everyone has on them at all times, usually right in their back pocket – literally? Yeah. It’s an iPhone.
And fortunately, there’s an entirely new industry popping up to support it. The apps and accessories that are available now are nothing short of amazing.
Accessories like iOgrapher let you add lights, professional mics (shotgun mics, lavs, you name it); mount them to tripods, monopods, glide cams, cranes. And with handles that let you shoot steadier hand held footage. And these cases are inexpensive!
Apps like Filmic Pro for capture are amazing! You can adjust frame rates and exposure, lock focus – a $5 app that gives you all the control over your iOS device that rivals a DSLR.
And then there’s Switcher Studio – an incredible app for multicam productions. It’s incredible!
Stuff that 10 years ago would cost you tens of thousands and would require an entire crew, can now be done with a few bucks and some iPhones or iPads. Now I’m not saying this is replacing anything. Broadcasters need not worry. BUT, if they’re smart – like the guys at the BBC – they’re adding this capability to their productions for more dynamic content.
If you’re a high school athletics department that wants to live stream Friday night’s game, and add a professional flair to it, now you can.
And don’t get me started on the YouTube revolution. Now anyone with a cell phone can be a vlogger. And guess what, they’re doing it. So why not give them the tools to make their content watchable.
Does the iOS video market need 4k? Need is a strong word. The fact is, we can provide it. And why not? What’s the downside? If you’re a pro shooter disgusted by the idea, that’s ok. I’m not here to change your mind. I’m not pitching you on tossing your ALEXA out the window. 4k iOS video is not out to replace or unseat anything. It’s additive. And like YouTube itself, it’s a democratizing force. And that’s a good thing.