Turning Your iPad Into A Filmmaking Camera - Meet The iOgrapher
David teaches media arts and animation at San Marino High School, where his students won Silver and Bronze medals as part of the Los Angeles County Regional Occupational Program (LACOROP) annual competitions. He’s also a contributor to Post Magazine, which has covered post-production news and events for almost 40 years, and he runs the site Filmmaking Central to provide information, tutorials, and more about the art of filmmaking.
And David happens to be an iPad enthusiast. He uses iPads in his teaching, and it led him to the creation of the iOgrapher. I had a chance to speak with David about his invention and how it helps make the iPad an even better tool for making movies. So read on for my interview with David Basulto!
What’s your background in film and filmmaking?
I left Wall Street in 1990 to become an actor! I was in many feature films and television before producing my first film, called 18 Shades of Dust, with Danny Aeillo. I produced feature films for Icon Entertainment and Lifetime Television.
In 2004 I directed my first digital movie called Death Clique, all shot using a Panasonic DVX100 camera. It was revolutionary as it was the first prosumer camera that shot in 24 fps. And I edited it all in Adobe Premiere Pro on a laptop. This was all amazing to me. It proved to me that, by going digital, the craft was quickly becoming democratized. And I wanted in! I sold the movie to Netflix and Blockbuster.
What particular aspects of the iPad and iPad mini initially attracted your attention, with regard to filmmaking?
For me it was all about the advancement of mobile computing. A device that shot beautiful video, and stills, that i could edit on, and share to the world for such a low price. It is revolutionary in content creation.
I am working on a documentary right now on MMORPG addiction called ForeverQuest. I am only using the iPad mini and the iPhone 5. My students use iOS devices for most of their projects because they all own them, and using their iOS devices, they can be fully in charge of their footage. They even edit at home!
What are some of the key reasons you see the iPad and iPad mini opening up filmmaking for students and beginning filmmakers?
The price point is huge – it significantly lowers the barrier to entry for students. For the mini, $329 buys you the base model. Then simply add $30-40 in apps. Suddenly, you have a production company in your pocket! Schools with no media programs can now create opportunities for students to learn the craft – and all for a very small investment.
How did you first start thinking about building the iOgrapher?
From personally working with my own footage and the projects students my students were working on. Even with the steadiest of hands, there is no way to keep the iOS devices stable. I realized that what we needed was clear: handles! Then i thought, “Let’s add awesome microphones to capture amazing audio.” So I started to sketch a design on the iPad using Paper app.
What were the primary needs that had to be addressed for using the iPad to make films?
Basically, I wanted to provide a stable environment for shooting, such as experience that handles or a tripod offer. I also wanted to provide a way to attach lenses to get wide angle or close up looks. Capturing great audio with an external microphone and adding a light source to improve the picture are all important too. And of course, having it all mobile to shoot on the go.
How does the iOgrapher address those needs?
The iOgrapher has a 37mm lens mount to attach wide angle, macro, and fisheye lenses. It has handles on both sides for steady camera shots. It can attach to a tripod. It has cold shoes to mount external microphones and lighting on top.
What did you do to design and build your prototype?
Were there kinks that had to be worked out, or unexpected problems that arose? Did working on the design make you realize any particular additional needs you hadn’t expected but which you incorporated into the design when they came to your attention?
Actually the first prototype was near perfect. We went through many drafts before making the 3D print. The only problem we had was we needed to redesign some of the sizes of the audio port area before we found the perfect plug size for external mics.
The iOgrapher is for the iPad mini — why start there?
I’ve been an iPad user since version one. I loved it then and am fanatical about it now. When the mini came out and I used it for the first time, I said oh yah this is it! It is the perfect size and price point. Great for education and even pros!
Do you plan to expand the product to create a version for the regular iPad as well?
We have an iPhone 5 prototype done and we are finishing the regular iPad as we speak. I like to test my ideas on my students and they all agreed they wanted an iPhone version too. For the iPad, I received a lot of emails from potential customers asking about when the full size iPad version would be ready. So I knew there was a market.
What sort of other accessories does the iOgrapher work with — meaning, for example, how many types of lenses will it accomodate, what about tripods, etc?
The iOgrapher line uses 37 mm lenses. it can attach any standard size tripod. The shoes on top will fit any standard accessories that connect to camera etc.
If the iOgrapher takes off, would you plan future versions and perhaps design your own accessories for it?
We plan on making versions for all the iOS devices, possibly in customizable colors etc. We are also interested in developing a line of prime lenses for them.
Is there anything else you want to mention about the iOgrapher?
We are also creating an online film school filled with tutorials on using the iOgrapher and iOS devices. From development, such as script writing and previsualizing your shots, to shooting the movie, to editing, then finally sharing with the world. Support us on Kickstarter!
Thanks to David Basulto for the great interview!