Let’s Get Small – by Frank Petrie

Recently, I purchased some new Apple gear. This was initiated from a concept born over a year ago. I wanted to see if I could create a quality-looking video with entry-level hardware.

I kicked off this experiment with the iPhone SE 2020. It had only one lens, but it had a sizable amount of the guts of that year’s flagship iPhones. My concept could be accomplished with the addition of several key accessories.

First, I replaced Apple’s camera app with FilmicPro, a video app which would give granular control of my settings, such as focus, white balance, f-stop, and so on. I could further improve the image with a collection of Sandmarc lenses and filters.

The camera would be mounted to a previously purchased Osmo gimbal, allowing for impressive stabilization when combined with Apple’s Optical Image Stabilization. And as an unexpected bonus. I’m bound to a power chair. Combined with the aforementioned gimbal and Apple’s Image Stabilization, this would make for buttery smooth dolly shots.

As for the files, the iPhone 13 Mini only provided 128 GB of storage. But years earlier, I had purchased a SanDisk iXpand 128 GB flash drive. Combined with my new iPad Mini 6’s 256 GB of storage, that’s a total of a bit under 400 GB altogether. (Actually, if you include the flotsam already onboard, it’s more like 300GB). And as I had purchased the iPad Mini with 256GB storage, I could unload what I had shot and begin filming anew. And if I wanted a little more breathing room, I could always pick up a portable SSD for more storage and I could repurpose that later in my desktop workflow.

I found some embarrassingly inexpensive LED lights on Amazon that fulfilled my needs. When used with reflectors like inexpensive white foam core and other money-saving tricks I learned in college, I could create a usable lighting rig if I framed my shots properly.

My second purchase was the aforementioned iPad Mini 6 with 256 GB of storage. I traded in my iPad Air 4, so I could purchase the 256GB model. Not only would this allow me to dump footage off the camera onto the iPad mini 6, but I would also be able to view it on a reasonable-size screen and possibly, even perform some rough cuts of scenes using LumaFusion.

After using the iPad Air for nearly a year, having it sit in a stand next to my iMac, it seemed a cheesy second monitor. Granted, the size of the iPad Mini will be limiting as to use cases with my iMac, but again I came across a few videos that had some innovative ideas as to the role it could play in my desktop workflow.

One tech used it to keep his calendar open on it all day. Now, he wouldn’t have to repeatedly launch the calendar app on his desktop. A simple quick glance and he would know his schedule. Another tech used it to park apps and files on it for whatever project he was currently working on. All he had to do was click on the needed app or file and drag it onto his desktop. No launching Spotlight or Alfred.

With the release of the iPhone 13 mini and Apple’s advances in computational video, I reckon I can pull it off. And I’m anxious to see the third iteration of Cinematic mode.

So, now you know my plans. But let’s get to the thrust of this article.

Within several weeks of purchasing my toys, I noticed that several well-known YouTubers such as Noah Hernan, Daily Tekk, and a handful of others were pronouncing that they were doing the same downsizing of their mobile devices for various other reasons.

There were the usual motives such as consumption and reading. But I also watched various videos where they found that they could create solid content on these diminutive devices. One person went so far as to show you how to record an audio podcast, recommending what microphone and software would help you produce a quality-sounding episode.

I saw various musicians using it for creating musical content when the muse struck them as they were out and about. Beatmakers seemed particularly enamored with it. Especially the size and form factor.

The most interesting concept I heard was it was great for taking notes in a face-to-face business meeting. The reason? It wasn’t as intrusive, as it was approximately the same size as a paper notepad. If the person was taking notes on a larger iPad, the argument was it would create a psychological wall between them and their counterpart. Very compelling.

Personally, I have watched movies and TV shows on it while using my AirPod Pros. When a film or show calls for a more intimate experience then I turn off my 55” TV and reach for the Mini!

As an aside, the darnedest thing is it got me to watch TikTok. I had tried watching TikTok before on my iPhone, but never felt engaged. But the iPad Mini turns out to be the perfect size to draw me in with its larger picture and better sound.

In the end, I’m confident I can pull this off. Now to write some banger scripts.

©2021 Frank Petrie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to top