February 20 2011
There is nothing more Zeitgeisty than shooting short films on a mobile phone. Cheap, easy and convenient, it also lends a priceless arty street vibe to your video – the film equivalent of the politician’s glottal stop. That’s not to say, however, that mobile-phone footage is necessarily, er, phoney. It has a special amateur-but-cool quality to it, and using a phone also allows filmmakers to do things and get into shooting positions that would be hard with an enormous camera and lighting rig. The beauty of a mobile phone as a video camera is that it’s discreet. Everybody in the world carries one, so knocking off a quick film de moi is barely more intrusive, equipment-wise, than if you were shooting it with your handkerchief.
Which phone to use for your masterpiece, then? Well, the Nokia N8 is technically very good but, as in all things mobile phone, the current iPhone, the 4, is the popular upmarket choice. As with all its functions, the iPhone 4 isn’t exactly the best, but it’s the easiest and most pleasing to use by miles. And while the video is pretty good, this extraordinary new accessory from a company in Phoenix, Arizona, converts your iPhone into a serious video camera, quite good enough to make a proper film – or striking stills.
The Owle Bubo is, essentially, a big lump of nicely machined aluminium into which your iPhone snuggles. The shape of the mount ensures the first thing you need for good mobile video – stability. But it also incorporates a wide-angle (and macro) lens to enhance the built-in one and produce startlingly good pictures. The mount can take a variety of other lenses, too, so there’s scope to experiment.
The Owle video HD kit put together by Pinewood Studios-based Appleworld Distribution, however, includes a proper microphone and the Rotolight ring light pictured – which, with its filters and gels, boosts your video to professional standards.
One small point: when you’re shooting with the Owle, it’s recommended you put the phone into in-flight mode. This, of course, means that it’s no longer a phone. Hardly matters, though, because you’d look very silly holding the entire video rig up to your ear.