What You Actually Want


It’s the difference between what people say they want, and what they actually want.

— Todd Yellin, Netflix’s VP of product innovation.

Word. Here at Filmakr Labs we’ve listened to input from professional DPs (directors of photography / cinematographers) and home movie makers not just by hearing what they say, but by watching what they do. The UX design (user experience) choices we’ve made let you make finished films, not just shoot a few clicks into your Camera Roll. We want to make sure you can quickly and easily make and share your family get-togethers, web antics, and stories needing telling. Just like Netflix wants you to watch what you actually want to watch, you want people to want to see your films. While Filmakr alone can’t unlock the inner creativity each and every one of us has inside, it sure can make it easier and more likely by taking lots of video-making obstacles out of your way.

The Verge: The science behind Netflix’s first major redesign in four years

Early Mojo Experiments with Gary Vaynerchuk

wine pour gary vaynerchuk garyvee mobile journalism web video wine eco environment news interview mobile photoAfter shooting Mark Wahlberg on the Nokia N95 in 2008, I continued to experiment shooting web videos for Treehugger.com and Discovery’s Planet Green television network. Remember, this is before the iPhone could even shoot video. Here’s a sit-down interview I did with entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk over a midday meal. In Part 2 Garyvee turns the lunch table on me grabbing the cellphone and having me taste the wine he’s talking about. I immediately fell in love with the promise of intimacy this type of reporting provides, to swooping around easily and seamlessly to grab coverage. It was delightful for me to compose the shots on the fly. I really got a kick out of adapting my handheld camera moves for shooting on a mobile phone. Kanting the camera on a dutch angle to frame with a wine bottle in the foreground, subject in the mid ground, and colorful activity happening in the background such as the waitress adjusting the umbrella.

george spyros wine library tv tasting glass gary vaynerchuk book 101 wines garyvee mobile journalism web video eco environment news interview mobile noikia cell phone mojo waitress restaurant cook shop

It’s up to us to adapt to it, be fearless in our framing. To be alive as alive and in the mobile moment as our subjects.

Lunch Interview with Gary Vaynerchuk shot on a Mobile Phone

Part 1

Part 2

Content for the Attention Span Impaired

Given these videos were intended for the web, and having been looking at early viewer behavior data coming in, we began to realize how sort internet clips needed to be. So we experimented with pulling some stand-alone soundbites. Quick, digestible stuff which at that time was labeled as “snack-sized content”.

Eco Tip


Being in the Mobile Moment

Sometimes the best material happens randomly in front of the camera. It’s up to us to adapt to it, be fearless in our framing. To be alive as alive and in the mobile moment as our subjects. Here’s an uncut moment where Gary chats with the owner of the Cook Shop restaurant about the wine we’re drinking. Further improvements in audio acquisition were to come in the future of my mojo trials.

Filmakr Origin Story

Starting in 2006, nary a year after the launch of YouTube, I began contributing video to the start-up environmental website Treehugger.com experimenting with emerging web video production. By 2007, the site had been acquired by Discovery Communications, I was producing for broadcast as well as vlogging on the environment, had become very busy, a father to tiny twin babies, and tired of carrying big gear to small shoots. Having begun as work done out of concern for the environment, I was still eager to get the word out on sustainability and good causes.

nokian95 nokia n95 cell feature phone mobile smartphone 8 gb device gigabyte portable buttons keypad screen photo

Coordinating getting a camera person and lugging a camcorder rig for these quickie, do-gooder web videos was pretty unappealing and not cost-effective. I happened to get an $800 Nokia N95 phone for free in a Webby Awards party swag bag. While it came with a free month of phone service, I never used that but rather was drawn to its capacity to shoot 640×480 standard definition video to mpeg-4 files at around 3-4 mbps — at the time the iPhone only in its second year of existence could not yet shoot video. noikia n95 mobile phone video quality mpeg-4 mbps acc audio 48 khz mono imageComing with a whopping 8 gigabytes of storage, I decided to try the Nokia with an LED light strapped on with gaffers tape using this kluge to interview Mark Wahlberg at a charity event — he eyed me with some suspicion since again this was early 2008 way before the site of throngs of people shooting video on phones became commonplace, and meanwhile the rest of the press had their heavy-duty, giant, shoulder-rig broadcast cameras. Nonetheless he gave me a great interview to spread word on the internet about the charity. Around that time I also used the Nokia N95 for an interview over a leisurely lunch with the peripatetic Gary Vaynerchuk. We veered off topic to touch on the undeniable fact that mobile was the future for these types of production.

nokia n95 litepanels miniplus daylight-balanced led onboard gaffer tape camera auto-focus carl zeiss optics lens nokian95 cell feature phone mobile smartphone 8 gb device gigabyte portable tungsten gel kluge photoCAMERA KLUGE: The Nokia N95 strapped to a Litepanels MiniPlus daylight-balanced onboard LED. Nokia N95 specs: 8GB NAM (N95-4) Frontal CIF video call & main rear 2592 × 1944 camera with auto-focus, Carl Zeiss optics, capture Aspect ratio (image) 4/3 (1.33:1)

I explored the idea of creating a stand-alone camera device with live-switchable front/back cameras, but then Apple introduced the App Store and by 2010 I began to think if I built this thing, we could make it available for everyone. I decided to develop the ultimate, all-in-one, video-making app for iPhone, Filmakr.

The capacity to only shoot individual clips wasn’t good enough for me. Shooting single clips and then off-loading to a computer would defeat the purpose. Wouldn’t unleash the potential of mobile devices. The app needed to deliver full-circle production beginning with shooting, through multi-shot-auto-editing, and finally upload to the web. The solution had to be a mash-up of camera and editing into one, simplified, fluid experience that feels seamless to use. And this new way of doing things would speed the inevitable march of video-making becoming transfored into digital filmmaking. I also recognized that over time having to use multiple paired-down apps to accomplish making films on a small phone would become annoying and counterproductive. I decided we had to make the killer videomaking app. And to cram all the required functionally into a single app without sucombing to the bloatware, Swiss Army Knife pitfall of crappy user experience. The UX needed to be off the hook. We would have to start from scratch and rexamine every element of the workflow, never assume the current way was the best way for mobile, certainly we weren’t going to simplly port-over and transpose a desktop paradigm to a little iPhone touch screen….

I go into a bit more historical perspective and tell a bit more about my own journey in this article about how high quality low cost cameras are disrupting the film/video job market.

More here: Early Mojo Experiments with Gary Vaynerchuk

Preset: Corbett-Fitzsimmons

Filmakr Preset Corbett-Fitzsimmons (watch the film sample above)

Our Corbett-Fitzsimmons preset is inspired by a film claiming the dual titles as both the world’s first feature film as well as world’s first widescreen film. This 1897 documentary film directed by Enoch J. Rector The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight captured the world heavyweight title boxing match between James J. Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons in Carson City, Nevada on St. Patrick’s Day the same year.


Live Filter: Strangelove
Vignette: Small 50%
Film Grain: 16mm 50%
Light Leaks: Constant 50%
Aspect Ratio Mask: 2.39.1 Anamophic
Format: 720p/24p, 44.1 kHz, 18 Mbps

The world’s first feature film.

Originally running at over 100 minutes, it was the longest film that had ever been released to date; as such, it was the world’s first feature film. The technology that allowed this is known as the Latham Loop (which inspired another one of our Filmakr Presets), and Rector was a rival for claiming the invention of the device. He used three Latham Loop-equipped cameras placed side-by-side so as one camera ran out of film, the next could be used and reloaded with the 63mm nitrate film being used.

The world’s first widescreen film.

The film was also the first ever to be shot in widescreen, with an aspect ratio of about 1.65:1. According to Dan Streible, The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight is “one of the earliest individual productions to sustain public commentary on the cinema.”

BONUS FIRST: The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight is probably the earliest world title fight that exists on film.

Only fragments of the film survive today. The known fragments were transferred in the 1980s from a print owned by Jean A. LeRoy of New York City, the transfer done on a specially built optical printer to convert the film to 35mm film.

Place: The Race Track Arena, Carson City, Nevada.
Time: March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day), 1897.

Fitzsimmons won by his famous “solar plexus” punch to Corbett’s midriff in the 14th round. Knock-out shot here:

More history on the legendary Bob Fitzsimmons challenging the champion “Gentleman” Jim Corbett for the world heavyweight title.

California showman and fighter James J. Corbett was the world heavyweight champion after his defeat of John L. Sullivan, and Robert Fitzsimmons, the finest Kiwi big man, had been after the socially endowed pugilist for a serious scrap for years. Fitzsimmons took the world middleweight championship in 1891 from the amazing Jack Dempsey, “Nonpariel,” but the shot at Corbett was elusive. One contest, scheduled for Halloween of 1895 in Dallas, was cancelled by state legislation banning professional boxing, and subsequent attempts in Arkansas were also thwarted. Corbett briefly retired and left the title in the hands of Peter Maher, and Fitzsimmons flattened Maher in less than two minutes in a bout billed for the world crown in the strangely staged contest on a sandbar in the middle of the Rio Grande, between Langtry, Texas and Coahuila de Zaragoza, Mexico. Gentleman Jim and the New Zealander from Timaru finally met in Carson City, Nevada, Mar. 13, 1897, in a celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. The legislation by the state to authorize the sweet science caused controversy across the nation, in tone with the national trend against the punishing pastime. The event in Carson City itself was surrounded by almost movie western intrigue, with a well-armed former Tombstone marshal Wyatt Earp, then a paid reporter for the New York World, in Corbett’s corner and several other gunmen in the former Australian champion’s contingent. Bat Masterson was said to be there. The Nevada bout was brutal and definitive, though, as “The Battling Blacksmith” Fitzsimmons, rallying from a long stumble in the 4th, won the title by a “crippling” knock out blow to the champ’s chest in the 14th round. The fight was staged during daylight and filmed for the Kinetoscope market, its display becoming a further issue for moralizing politicians across the nation.

corbett fitzsimmons1897 boxing title fight world heavyweight match widescreen feature film gloves ring rope punch spectators corner documentary enoch j rector director carson city nevada st patrick day photo

Filmakr Filter: McCabe

filmakr app filter mccabe film look vilmos zsigmond cinematography robert altman 1971 movie earth tones old faded picture photo image

Named after McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), Filmakr’s McCabe filter is inspired by the faded earth tones of Vilmos Zsigmond’s cinematography. To give the film a low-contrast look, Zsigmond “flashed” the film which means lightly exposing a negative before shooting to underexpose the film. This technique makes it hard to set an exposure, and overall is very risky. At the time of McCabe, flashing was revolutionary — or reckless. Go to Filmmaker Magazine to read a great article where Zsigmond speaks at length about the film.

Opening with Leonard Cohen`s Song “The Stranger Song”


McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
Directed by Robert Altman
Starring Warren Beatty, Julie Christie
Music Leonard Cohen (non original songs)

Filmakr Filter: Storaro

filmakr app filter storaro vittorio film look cinematography director of photography saturated yellow deep cyan high contrast earth tones italian rod keenan hat fashion photo image
Rod Keenan, Milliner with Filmakr Premium Filter “Storaro” applied.

Filmakr Premium Filter Storaro

Inspired by the look of Storaro’s work on The Conformist, this saturated and high-contrast filter layers a subtle yellow cast over the mid-tones  resolving into deep cyans in the highlights and bringing out earthy tones in skin.

Vittorio Storaro Master Cinematographer

Vittorio Storaro is widely regarded as a master cinematographer with a sophisticated philosophy largely inspired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s theory of colors, which focuses in part on the psychological effects that different colors have and the way in which colors influence our perceptions of different situations. Storaro earned his first cinematography credit in 1969 for Giovinezza, Giovinezza [Youthful, Youthful]. His third film La Strategia del Ragno (The Spider Strategy) marked the beginning of his long collaboration with Bertolucci. In 1970, Bertolucci and Storaro collaborated on The Conformist, a seminal film in the history of contemporary cinematography.

Storaro’s first mainstream studio film was Apocalypse Now, directed by Francis Ford Copolla in 1979. Storaro earned his first Oscar for that effort. He received his second Oscar in 1981 for Reds, directed by Warren Beatty, and the third one for The Empire of the Sun, in 1987, directed by Bertolucci. Storaro earned a fourth Oscar nomination for Dick Tracy in 1990.

His other feature credits include 1900, Luna, Last Tango in Paris, Tucker: A Man and His Dreams, One From the Heart, Little Buddha, Ladyhawke, Tango and Bulworth.

Vittorio Storaro, what does a student of cinematography need to know?

Filmakr Presets: Porter’s Fireman

filmakr preset porters fireman iphone camera app video editing interface ui ux design create new film image
Presets save time and hassle by automatically creating each new film with a beautiful combination of settings. All with a single tap. Instantly achieve sophisticated finished films that are ready for the big screen.
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Time Magazine iPhone Milestones Includes Bentley Motors Video

Time Magazine highlights the first 7-years of the iPhone. There are markers like “iPhone Launches on Verizon,” “App Store Downloads Top 40 Billion,” and of course super-fun ones like “First iPhone Goes to Space” referring to Nasa’s final shuttle launch (while we were more tickled by the famous iPhone space-journey — well, ok, upper-atomospher journey — video included below).  All in all there really aren’t a great number of milestones which is why it’s so impressive to see the Bentley Motors video shot on the iPhone 5s make it to the list. Exciting stuff, we’ll be joining you soon….iphone milestones timeline time magazine bentley motors iphone 5s video seven years image