VOTD: '156 Turns,' A Documentary Shot Entirely On iPhone 4

When the iPhone 4 was announced, many wondered how long it would take before we saw a film shot with the device. Not long, as it turns out. 156 Turns is a documentary that covers the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb motorcycle race in Colorado Springs. And while the full film, made by Seth Schaeffer and his crew, uses footage captured by a number of cameras, you can see a short version below that was shot entirely on iPhone 4.

Schaeffer reportedly shot the race right after buying the phone(s) last week. The footage he's posted so far looks tremendous. Even without qualifying it by saying it was shot on a phone, the video looks great. It's not going to compete with a full pro camera rig, but there's no doubt that the iPhone can and will be used to make 'real' movies.

(And, yes, there are other smart phones with similar video capability. But from the side-by-side tests I've seen, Apple's phone delivers better image quality than other phones with equivalent or higher tech specs.)

The footage in the edit below was captured entirely on the phone, and was assembled with no color correction or additional post-processing. As the filmmakers say on the clip's YouTube page:

We decided to leave the colors as is to show what the iPhone really looks like right now (until an app comes out that can lock exposure). We really wanted to show people what is possible without really knowing color correction, special effects, etc. I usually do all my toning and everything in After Effects, but edited this all in Premiere to keep that simple documentary film. We're not trying to make the iPhone 4 look like it's a RED or a 5D Mark II. It's a different direction.

The catch here is that, while the image capture device was the iPhone 4, Schaeffer and his team used a bit of extra gear. Primarily, they augmented the phone with an OWLE, a mount that basically provides a better lens and microphone for the iPhone. Not that it's a piece of high-level gear, as the OWLE retails for $130, but the film wasn't shot merely by a guy holding the naked phone in hand.

Still, I think few people would look at this clip and think it was shot on a phone. It's amazing to think that we've so quickly come to the point where a two hundred dollar piece of consumer technology can capture images of such quality while being so unobtrusive that the barrier between filmmaker and subject is further eroded. (Though the barrier isn't completely gone — Schaffer notes that the OWLE "drew a lot of attention.")

[via In Contention]