Filmmaker to shoot entirely with iPhone 4s

Seth Schaeffer uses his soon-to-be-outdated iPhone to show how he plans to line up shots at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb automobile and motorcycle race, using new Apple iPhone 4 cell phones.

Local filmmaker Seth Schaeffer of Hoptocopter Films, and some friends with Triple Nickel Films of Los Angeles, should be among the first in line on the Front Range this morning to purchase six of Apple’s new iPhone 4 cell phones.

And, with a little luck, Schaeffer hopes to be the first filmmaker to post a high-profile video production on the Internet shot entirely from the new phones, which are being lauded for their high-performance, high-definition-video capability.

“It puts movie making into the hands of everyone,” Schaeffer said, excited about the thought of using the video camera in the phones to film the upcoming Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, happening this weekend in Colorado Springs.

A motorcycle’s climb

The world-renowned automobile and motorcyle race goes 12.42 miles up Pikes Peak and includes 156 hairpin turns. The race course climbs 5,000 feet, and drivers who make a mistake come face-to-face with any number of dramatic drops off the mountain.

Schaeffer and his crew plan to mount one of the phones on the motorcycle of racer Greg Tracy, who has won the event the past two years. Tracy is also a professional stunt man who has appeared in such Hollywood blockbusters as “G.I. Joe,” “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “Spider-Man 3,” and “The Fast and the Furious.”

The Pikes Peak race is the ultimate test for any machine making the climb, and Tracy will be riding the new 2010 Ducati Multistrada.

“The new Ducati is just about as innovative in the motorcycle market as the new iPhone 4G is in theirs,” Schaeffer said.

Schaeffer, Tracy and Chris Nazarenus, executive producer and owner of Triple Nickel Films, already had plans to film a new promotional piece for Ducati at the big race, but when Schaeffer realized they could do it in conjunction with the release of the new iPhone 4, they knew they had a winning idea.

“It’s an international event, one of the oldest races around, and it happens just three days after the phones come out,” he said.

Risky production

“It’s going to be a cross-promotional piece for Ducati and the Multistrada, but this way we have a shot at being the first filmmakers to test the new iPhone, too,” Schaeffer said.

Schaeffer realizes that using the new phones to produce the promotional piece could be a risky endeavor if the camera doesn’t live up to the media hype. One of the considerations is the amount of high-definition memory each phone’s memory card can hold. Other potential issues include how the new iPhone will handle movement when attached to Tracy’s bike, and how to mount and stabilize the cameras on a tripod or helicopter track.

“It’s a big risk, but I really believe that Apple does a good job at building their products,” he said.

Schaeffer and his crew will begin filming just after they receive their phones today, conducting prerace interviews, filming B-roll on the mountain and testing the camera’s editing capabilities.

He realizes they may have to change the production’s focus if the camera is unable to perform as well as expected.

“Right now it’s likely to focus on the bike’s innovation,” he said.

For the filmmakers, time is of the essence, as they’re hoping to be the first to post a new iPhone 4G video to YouTube as early as Sunday night.

Schaeffer hopes to create a viral sensation that will bring national exposure to the new phone, Ducati and Pikes Peak, as well as Hoptocopter and Triple Nickel Films.

“For me it’s just about being the first to post a high-profile film from the phone,” he said.

Schaeffer said he has contacted Apple about his idea and, “Apple loves it.”

New technology, directions

If successful, Schaeffer will consider editing and posting a longer documentary about the making of the first all-phone production,  and the race.

In the bigger picture, Schaeffer said, he loves Apple’s idea of placing high-quality, low-cost video cameras into the hands of novice filmmakers everywhere.

“It just lets everyone be creative, and so many people will get to try something they’ve never considered before,” he said.

Schaeffer said he can’t wait to see what directions people take the new technology. He launched the website last week in the hopes that amateur and professional filmmakers will share with others what they’ve created.

Schaeffer, 26, a self-taught filmmaker from Grand Junction, started Hoptocopter Films in 2005. His company focuses on high-quality video production and has produced spots for Loki, Fahrenholtz and Tucker Law, and impressionist Preston Helton.


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