Pikes Peak race filmed with iPhone

Filmmaker Seth Schaeffer, left, coordinates production of a film being shot entirely with the new iPhone 4, at a race up Pikes Pike recently. The phone is located inside the specialized housing that Schaeffer is holding.

Local filmmaker Seth Schaeffer set out last weekend to be one of the first to use the new iPhone 4G to create a high- profile movie, filming the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado Springs.

The project could not have gone any better, according to Schaeffer, and the first two-minute teaser of the film was uploaded to http://www.hoptocopter.com/ducati and http://www.iphone4filming.com Monday evening.

“I’m really happy with the way that everything turned out,” Schaeffer said.


Within a half-hour of picking up the newly released phones Thursday, Schaeffer and his friends from Triple Nickel Films of Los Angeles were on their way to begin shooting interviews and B-roll leading up to the big race.

Some of those interviews include Motorcycle Hall of Fame legend Malcolm Smith, professional movie stuntman Mike Ryan and Red Bull driver Rhys Millen.

Schaeffer and Triple Nickel’s Chris Nazarenus originally thought they would use the phones to film a promotional piece about the innovation of the new Ducati Multistrada motorcycle.

But they found the stories of the drivers so compelling that they switched the film’s focus onto their stories.

“These guys think that if you don’t take a risk, then you’re not living,” Schaeffer said, adding that the drivers have families and wives but still choose to live dangerously.

Schaeffer took a risk when choosing to use the phones to film the big race rather than traditional cameras.

“Everyone was just blown away and excited at the fact that we were using an iPhone,” Schaeffer said.

In addition to the phones, Schaeffer and his crew used phone accessories such as a unique camera mount called an OWLE and special lenses created just for filming with Apple phones.

“The OWLE looks weird so it drew a lot of attention,” he said.

They used the accessories to mount phones to the helmet and handlebars of motorcycle racer Greg Tracy, who rode the new 2010 Ducati Multistrada and won in his class.

The new HD video feature of the phone performed well, Schaeffer said, but he doesn’t think it will replace the Canon EOS Mark II that he usually uses in shooting.

“It is pretty good and some stuff like the time-lapse tool — it looks amazing,” Schaeffer said of the new iPhone.

A drawback, Schaeffer said, was getting the auto exposure to focus correctly, however.

“We lost a lot of shots because of that.”

“But, I like it because it forces me to focus on storytelling and not just on a beautiful picture,” he said, “It forces the content to be more valuable.”

Schaeffer still thinks he has a shot at making a big Internet buzz with his high-profile film about the race. He’s already been contacted by technology bloggers and other filmmakers who are excited to see the final product.

“It could be really huge, but we got to nail it,” Schaeffer said Monday as he was putting some last-minute edits into the final cut.

Schaeffer plans to release a full-length follow-up video about the Pikes Peak race next month.



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