For your iConsideration

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I’ve been delivering workshops over the last few months on capturing and editing digital content on mobile devices. Digital video and photography is nothing new of course, but, in recent years, colour correcting and editing content on the same device has become more than just a domestic option… many devices available to purchase on a modest budget, combined with software costing no more than your lunch money, can be your camera, your editing suite and your means of uploading to the web. In reality you can make an HD quality short movie and upload within minutes of completing the edit.

For the digital journalist, the ability to do this offers obvious benefits and potential – but is  this tech limited to nothing more than online content..?

Well, based on my experience with the media, available apps and subsequent results, I was poised to write about where I saw the potential this method of filmaking offers beyond YouTube, Vlogging or school projects.

Last summer I was commissioned by The Young Foundation to make a series of short films for a social innovation project. Initially I was a little shy about revealing my filmaking kit – an iPhone, an iPad and a laptop. However, I felt convinced that, given the sensitive nature of what I was to film (homeless hostels), smaller and less-intrusive kit would offer me a greater advantage over larger, very intimidating, HD broadcast quality digital cameras.

During this time I was reminded of a film released almost 10 years earlier – Tarnation (2003) was a documentary gathered from 20 years of ‘Super 8’ film and analogue video footage. The ‘first time’ film maker gathered his content, digitised it and edited together in Apple’s iMovie, the freebie digital movie editor bundled free on all Macs. At the time the iMovie application was ‘Final Cut Express-lite’ – ‘Final Cut Express‘ being ‘Final Cut-lite’. But this new documentary maker, 1) Didn’t know the difference and 2) didn’t have the money to use anything else – even the kit he had was loaned.

Within a few years of release Tarnation had garnered 8 film festival awards and several other nominations.

So, ten years back to the present, just as I’m about to write about where iPhone movie-making could be taking us in years to come, I find this on CNN – “$1.99 iPhone app saved Oscars film

I recommend you watch the clip but, essentially, within a few hours of me publishing this post, Searching for Sugarman (2012) may well be an Oscar winner, due (in a small but essential way), to a few essential ‘iPhone-captured’ shots!

iPhone app

The possibility of ever seeing a feature film made on an iPhone is highly unlikely. However, there are plenty of good reasons why we might see an Oscar/BFI/Cannes/etc… nominated documentary, (or even a short film) that was captured, edited and published on an ‘iDevice’.

The downside of course is that there may well be an awful lot more rubbish to wade through – however, a true creative spirit will always find a way… and so maybe, just maybe, one of next years golden statute winners is already walking around with a golden opportunity in their pocket.

UPDATE: Maybe you already know the story, but Searching For Sugarman won the Oscar for Best Documentary 2013 – congratulations to al involved!

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Guildtown Project (via AudioBoo)

Guildtown was founded in 1818 by the Guildry Incorporation of Perth.

The Primary School, through a series of interlinked projects (many of them delivered through the Living Communities Programme at Perth Museum and Art Gallery), explored the Guildsmen and the trades that they governed. They also made a mini-documentary including a recreation of how the village may have looked 200 years ago.

In this series of three clips some of the young people involved talk about their learning experience, the trades they learned about and tried out and how they got on making their short film.

My part in this was to capture these thoughts and share them through this AudioBoo which is tagged to artworks, related to the project, currently exhibited at Perth Museum and Art Gallery, via a QR Code.

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Is ‘anyone’ watching..?

Just over a year ago I wrote about a concert I’d attended in Glasgow. You’ll find links to the original posts at the foot of this post but for the purpose of this blog I’ll summarise the key points…

On 20 July 2011 I saw Iron Maiden perform at the Scottish Exhibition and Convention Centre (SECC). I noted how many digital cameras (mostly phones I imagine) were capturing parts of the show in comparison to the last time I had seen Maiden play the SECC in 2006. On reflection it made me wonder how much of an event like this we actually experience if we are preoccupied with a camera? Maybe it’s best just to have the memory..?

I was keen to catch up on this mini-research project and see where we were a year on… but before I do, why bring this all up again?

Well, I was watching the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic games last night and I was struck by an image. George Michael’s performance (from my perspective) was unremarkable except for one thing… as Michael approached the edge of the stage to engage with his (captive) audience, a crowd of athletes (‘caged’ in that amazing Union Jack flag of a stage) he was met by a wall of cameras! It was precisely the image I would liked to have captured at the SECC a year ago. George is obviously no stranger to a camera, but even to him this must have seemed excessive!

So, was anyone actually watching live?


“Come on… throw your phones away…!”


“No really, put them away, it’s rude!”


“It’s not the first time I’ve run away from cameras you know..!”

So, back to Iron Maiden…

Having returned home from Glasgow I was interested to know how many of the videos captured at the show had made their way to the internet. Within two hours of the band having left the stage two videos had been shared on YouTube. Potentially others had been shared through other sites, I didn’t look. Within 24 hours their were 58 videos on YouTube – almost as many as there were from a comparable show 5 years earlier (Iron Maiden, SECC, 15 December 2006).

We already know that the technology to capture images digitally is in more hands now than it was 5 years ago. It also much easier to share those captures now. YouTube had only been around for a year in 2006 so again you would expect more people to be using it in 2011 but it’s not clear that the ‘sharing’ figures are significantly higher or have even changed. One year on the balance of 2006 videos, searching YouTube with the line “Iron Maiden SECC 2006”, remains the same at around 60. Searching YouTube with the line “Iron Maiden SECC 2011” now boasts approx 100 videos. That’s only an additional 40 videos from 24hours after the gig. So between 2006 and 2011 the videos have increased by less than half whereas to my (very approximate) reckoning the number of cameras being used at the 2011 gig had multiplied by 4 or 5 times.

Now, this is hardly scientific. To form a clearer picture I would need to do the same with several different bands with different demographics with comparable gigs years apart. We could also search for comparable gigs in different parts of the country to see if gig-goers in Newcastle or Birmingham are more likely to share than folk in Glasgow. Maybe I’ll get around to doing that when I have time… however…

I’ve presented the data I have available so make of it what you will. To me it is at the very least a small indicator that while more people are capturing, only marginally more are sharing. With that in mind there are other potential factors to consider such as it’s possible that the people who were sharing in 2006 are now sharing even more content in 2011 i.e. several videos rather than just a couple. To clarify we would need to identify how many accounts were responsible for those 100 videos… 5, 10, 50?

Another factor, in this example, could also be that the fan base is likely to be older. Iron Maiden have been putting our albums since 1980. While there is a younger fan base (mostly nearest the stage!) the larger proportion of the audience were 40+
Statistics show that this age group is within the bracket more likely to have the tech necessary to do what we’re talking about. i.e. an Android/iPhone and access to wi-fi at home. What it doesn’t tell us is who is which age group is more likely to share.

But it’s interesting to see how this technology is being used. It’s also interesting to note how only 12-18 months ago 35-50 was the age bracket most likely to own a smartphone. That number appears to be dropping, as you might expect with contract upgrades, etc.

What will the next 6-12 months bring?

Finally though, here’s a picture of an elated George Michael engaging with a small crowd of athletes who’d left their mobiles at home – or maybe the batteries had just run out! ;)

Meta-Maiden (MysteryBoxes Blog, July 2011)

Meta-Maiden part 2 (MysteryBoxes blog, July 2011)