Cinematic devices: Baz Luhrmann uses tablets and smartphones for movie making. Photo: Edwina Pickles Jason Van Genderen shot his latest award-winning short film on a Nokia Lumia 920. Photo: Jacky Ghossein
Always at work: Baz Luhrmann, third from left, on his smartphone.
The line between tablets and desktop computers used to be pretty clear-cut. Tablets were good for consuming content, browsing the web and watching videos, while desktop computers were the tools for getting ”real” work done.
In the past year, however, that division of labour has blurred. In industries such as film and music, mobile devices are increasingly being used as a vital part of the creative process.
Baz Luhrmann, renowned Australian director of Hollywood blockbusters Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge! and most recently The Great Gatsby, is a big fan of Samsung tablets and smartphones. As you’d expect him to be, given his long-term partnership with Samsung and official title as one of the brand’s global ”passion ambassadors”.
But Luhrmann insists that he uses Samsung products because he genuinely values them as tools to help his creative process.
”I think their products are actually more advanced than ‘the other cult’,” he says. The other cult, of course, being Apple, with its ever-popular line of iPhone and iPad mobile devices.
While filming The Great Gatsby, Luhrmann used Samsung’s mobile devices as a key part of the filmmaking process, using them to create storyboard frames, scout locations and write scripts with videos embedded on each page.
One of the biggest advantages, Luhrmann says, was being able to collaborate with the other people on his creative team in real time. ”I can work on an image on my device, and the six people on my team can see me working on that image on their devices. When they work on it, those changes share back to my device instantly.”
This real-time collaboration feature, called Group Play, is unique to certain models of Samsung Galaxy devices, and it enables users to collaborate on photos and documents (as well as share music and participate in games) with up to 10 other Samsung smartphones and tablets over a wireless connection.
Luhrmann is hardly the first filmmaker to use tablets and smartphones for creative purposes. D. J. Caruso, director of sci-fi flick I Am Number Four, said he made good use of an Apple iPad while he was on set, despite initially buying it as a toy. ”I realised about a week into prep that my storyboards were coming on it, my previs was on it, my script was on it,” he told the Cambio website. ”It just became this amazing production tool.”
Some filmmakers are even using mobile devices to shoot the movies themselves. Malik Bendjelloul, director of the Oscar-winning Searching for Sugar Man documentary, told CNN he’d run out of money towards the end of production and had to shoot the rest of the movie on his iPhone.
”I started shooting this on a Super 8 camera, like with film, which is pretty expensive stuff, and I completely ran out of money. I had very few shots left, but I needed those shots. And one day I realised that there was this one-dollar app on my iPhone, and I tried it, and it looked basically the same as the real stuff.”
Aussie filmmaker Jason van Genderen shot his latest award-winning short film, Red Earth Hip Hop, entirely on a Nokia Lumia 920. ”Filming on a smartphone is such an unobtrusive way to capture a story,” he says. ”People find they open up a lot more in a documentary sense talking to a device that they are used to seeing every day as opposed to a big film crew.”
He was also impressed with the high quality of the video footage.
”Such incredibly sharp pictures from such a tiny lens. For most audiences, they’d have no idea it came from a smartphone.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.