“Storytelling for everybody is here in your pocket,” said Deirdre Mulcahy, as she explained how smartphones can be used for creating high-quality content.
The freelance producer and trainer gave a demonstration of the smartphone’s filming capability at an RTS London event in early November.
“No matter how big the tool, it comes down to the person who is actually using [it],” said Mulcahy. “Storytelling is about where the focus is – and understanding how you shoot.”
Mulcahy, who became a video trainer after years as a camerawoman for BBC News in many of the world's hotspots, explained that creators need to understand the basic craft skills of framing, focus, exposure and sound: “Once you've cracked that, it starts making the material shot on your mobile phone far more professional looking.
“You can choose to shoot vertical, you can choose if you want to shoot landscape, you can choose [your] style of interviews.”
But she warned: “You need to know what platform you’re making your content for – if I shoot in landscape and we put that up on a vertical interface, I have lost two thirds of [the shot].”
To demonstrate how smartphones have been used in professional productions, Mulcahy showed a clip from Steven Soderbergh’s psychological thriller Unsane, starring The Crown’s Claire Foy.
Unsane was shot on a mobile, using the Filmic Pro app. “There’s no zoomed-in shots in the whole film,” said Mulcahy. “[A smartphone can be] a great storytelling device as long as I'm shooting wides.”
She said the flaw with smartphones is their inability to match the zoom functions of professional cameras, requiring operators to move closer to the action.
Mulcahy compared the practicality of shooting on a smartphone compared to a professional camera, the Sony XDCAM PXW-FS5, highlighting the benefits of filming on a smartphone in “hot areas”: “When you’re going out on the streets to film but you don't want to be seen doing that.”
“Technically the FS5 is better, but for practical purposes I don't carry the FS5 in my pocket, and it takes rigging and time.”
“I'd be very happy to shoot and mix and match, I think the future is a mixed economy – because the cameras are getting so good on the mobile.”
“Production in Your Pocket” was an RTS London event held at the University of Westminster in central London on 6 November, and produced by David Thomas.