Thursday, July 01, 2010

iPhone 4 and Video; where we at?

It's been a week since the release of the iPhone 4 with it's HD video capabilities; where do things stand?
  1. First music video shot entirely on the iPhone 4 [CHECK]
  2. Complaints about poor image quality, wobble and rolling shutter [CHECK]
  3. Professional productions shot on the iPhone 4 [AT LEAST ONE IN PRE-PRODUCTION]
  4. Over 350,000 results returned for the search "iPhone 4" on YouTube [CHECK]
All-in-all, it's looking pretty impressive, even though I agree; the iPhone 4 does have terrible wobble and rolling shutter, and really only deserves attention as a video camera because you're likely to have it with you. Specifically setting out to use it for a project - now that so many people have done most of the firsts - just seems a bit silly.

And the iPhone 4 won't be getting the distinction of shooting the first feature film. At least one film has already claimed that title: South African filmmaker Aryan Kaganof shot SMS Sugar Man” earlier this year for 1 million rand ($164,000) in just twelve days using eight Sony Ericsson W900i cell phones.

Meanwhile, MacDailyNews reports that when one user complained about being unable to upload HD video to YouTube directly from the phone, Steve Jobs responded:
"Over the air in the future."
"In the future" is a very good answer, and can be used for most situations. It's almost always true, too. But it isn't enough to placate Chris Pirillo, who writes on his blog:
I believed that I would be able to record, save, edit and upload my video right from my device. How silly am I for assuming such a thing?
That's a rhetorical question, right Chris?

But it's not all chocolates and roses, and some people over at the DVInfo forum foresee very bad things because the unwashed masses will be shooting with iPhone's - or even worse, doing it themselves rather than hiring professionals:
I seriously think that it will become almost impossible to just make a middle class living in production very soon, for many, it is the reality today that while they can work in the industry, many of us are constantly losing work to clients who will just "do it themselves" or will "do it in-house". Can we, as pros do it better? Definitely. But the bar for what is acceptable is lowering by the minute. 
The same could be said about nearly every industry that computers - and I'll classify the iPhone as a computer - have touched. Just look at what desktop publishing did...just look at the ongoing newspapers vs. the internet situation.

One writer also noted a problem with clients providing footage from low-priced cameras:
I've cut stuff shot on Flips - conference delegates interviewing other conference delegates - and what took the client by surprise was the sheer time it took to process the video and audio into something watchable. Noisy video doesn't compress well, audio with a rear-facing microphone doesn't sound good in interviews.

Interesting times indeed. Engadget reports that the Senior VP of Cisco's Emerging Technologies Group has hinted there will be a WiFi enabled Flip video camera by the end of 2010, and they would like to support FaceTime.

24fps in low light?
Finally, while the iPhone 4 supports HD at 1280x720, the frame rate appears to be "up to" 30fps, and a couple of users have reported that it drops to 24fps in low light situations. On the Apple Discussions board, one user wrote:
I tried both with the new 720p recording and with the front facing VGA camera.

720p - 23.99fps , H.264, 1280 x 720, Millions
AAC, 1 channels, 44100 Hz Data rate: 10.42 Mbit/s

VGA - 24.00fps H.264, 640 x 480, Millions
AAC, Mono, 44.100 kHz Data Rate: 3,530.52 kbit/s
They could be dropping the frame rate in low light so they can lower the shutter speed, or it could be because the noisier low-light images compress less efficiently. There seems no way to control this, at least with the current iPhone camera app.

WorldChangingThe World’s First Cell Phone Feature Film
MacDailyNews: Steve Jobs email: Over the air iPhone 4 HD video uploads coming ‘in the future’
ChrisPirillo: iPhone 4 Video Direct to YouTube Coming in the Future New iPhone 4G shoots 720/30P HD!
Engadget: Cisco suggests WiFi Flip Video camera by Christmas, wants to integrate products with Apple's FaceTime
Apple DiscussionsHow does IPHONE 4 determine frame rate of video recording?

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