It wasn’t all that long ago that mobile video was just plain ugly. Good enough for your kid’s birthday party, perhaps, but not something you’d consider for professional videography. But now that smartphones are capable of capturing incredibly high-quality 4K HDR footage to ProRes, it’s fair to say that we’ve come a long way.
In our latest webinar, Christopher Cohen, CTO of FiLMiC, joins Shawn McDaniel to discuss how things have changed, and the incredible opportunities that the new integration between FiLMiC Pro and Camera to Cloud brings to video production of all kinds.
If you’re not already aware, FiLMiC Pro is a mobile phone app available for both iOS and Android that adds a slew of professional features to the video camera in your back pocket. You can learn more about FiLMiC Pro and FiLMiC’s other mobile tools here.
Cut to the chase
You’re probably already familiar with Frame.io’s key features (secure review and approval, centralized asset management, blazing-fast file transfers, and Camera to Cloud), but it’s worth repeating that anyone with a paid Frame.io account has access to Camera to Cloud. And anyone with an Adobe Creative Cloud account has access to Frame.io.
If you’d like to hear Shawn’s quick Frame.io overview, you can jump into it right here (or scrub to 7:41 in the video embed at the top of this article).
Otherwise, feel free to jump into the main topic of conversation, when Christopher Cohen joins the show at the 11:20 mark. Here he details the seismic shift that we’ve all experienced over the past few years and how it’s changed how we produce video content—and the tools we use to produce it.
“Mobile just flipped the tables,” Christopher says. Now that the mobile phone has become the default video and stills camera of choice for billions of people around the world, FiLMiC Pro is perfectly positioned to catch this wave. In fact, they saw it coming.
A long time ago, on a Samsung Galaxy far, far away…
According to Christopher, ten years ago—back when the iPhone 5 was crossing swords with the Samsung Galaxy S3, and Windows Phone OS was still a thing—no one really knew what a camera app was supposed to look like. As FiLMiC Pro was one of the first video camera apps of any kind on the market, the team had to carefully feel their way forward.
“We didn’t know what we were doing,” laughs Christopher. “So we put buttons in different places, made guesses based on what we would want, and to our surprise the decisions we made ten years ago became kind of the template for video camera app design as the years went by.”
But even though they were treading new ground and building a UI from scratch, they were led by a belief that we can all get behind. “No matter who you are, or where you are,” he says, “people communicate to people with stories. And now they have access to the tools to forge those stories.”
And to find proof to support that last statement, you needn’t look further than Tangerine, Sean Baker’s critically acclaimed 2015 film, shot entirely on the iPhone 5S using FiLMiC Pro. (Fun fact: one of the phones he used is now in the Academy Museum.)
As Shawn and Christopher discuss (13:34), Tangerine was a watershed moment for FiLMiC, taking what had been previously viewed as a hobbyist platform and pushing it in the spotlight.
As Christopher jokingly puts it, “There are two eras to our organization. There’s Before Tangerine and there’s After Tangerine. Before Tangerine, we were the crazy people at parties saying ‘Hey, some day people are going to make movies with cellphones.’ And people would laugh at us, and they would leave.”
Once the perception of cellphones as video cameras had been shattered, everything changed.
Certainly no one’s laughing now. But perhaps the biggest achievement of Sean Baker’s movie wasn’t that it was shot on an iPhone 5S, but that you didn’t notice that it was shot on an iPhone 5S. And once the perception of cellphones as video cameras had been shattered, everything changed.
With a sudden rush of filmmakers like Sean Baker, Steven Soderbergh, and Zack Snyder all starting to shoot with FiLMiC Pro, the team was now getting feedback from some very exacting customers. All of which led to rapid development of the app’s UX and UI based on real-world productions and experiential data.
While it might seem ridiculous that Hollywood names would turn to a smartphone when they have the best camera equipment in the world at their disposal, it’s the agility of cellphone filming that can’t be beaten—which Christopher details with some fascinating examples here (19:14).
It doesn’t stop at filmmaking and cinema, either. You’ll find FiLMiC Pro driving documentary production and citizen journalism—or MoJo (mobile journalism) as it’s also called. So it’s vital that the app is quick and easy to use in the field, which brings us to…
Show, don’t tell
At 26:37, Christopher takes us on a quick tour of the FiLMiC Pro app in action. From the double-reticle approach that allows you to define individual focal and exposure zones, to automatic (and lockable) white balance, tone mapping, and the insanely useful Reactive Analytics, there’s far too much to cover here. So we’d strongly recommend that you give it a watch to get an idea of how powerful FiLMiC Pro really is, and how its integration with Camera to Cloud might just shift your workflows forever.
And if you still need convincing, Shawn spins up a crazy live demo at the 33:18 mark where Christopher records a clip from his location in California and Shawn brings it straight into his Premiere Pro timeline within moments—as well as allowing the watching audience to view and comment in the Frame.io project in real time.
Shawn and Christopher wrap this brilliant session up at the 41:39 mark, throwing the mic open to audience questions. If you have questions of your own after reading this, you may find them answered at FiLMiC’s support pages, in the video below, or you can reach out to our team here.
But for now, all that remains is to thank Christopher Cohen for being an amazing guest and taking the time to show the value of FiLMiC Pro and the Camera to Cloud integration. We hope to bring you more of these soon—if there are any topics that you’d like us to cover in future webinars, drop your suggestions in the comments below.