Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ricardo Bigai breaks the mold with Supersam's musical video shot on iPhones

I was just blown away when I saw Supersam's new musical video. It shows 5 iPhones being rearranged on top of a table with rolling videos on each of them.

It happens to be that it was actually partially shot on the iPhone. Ricardo Bigai is one of the members of the band and he also directed the video.

HR: Ricardo, tell me a little bit about Supersam...
RB: SuperSam is a spanish rock band from Miami, members are José Martinez leads with the voice, Carlos García-Menocal on the Drums, Jorge García does the Guitars, Daniel Lazo Guitars and myself on the bass, we've been playing with this line-up since 2008, and "Un Tiempo En Marte" is our first CD. "E.M.O." is the second single we release from it.

HR: How did you guys come up with this idea?
RB:Immediately after we decided to release that song (E.M.O.) as our second single, the idea came to fruition. We have a lot of talented friends in the video industry willing to help us, but this time we didn't want to bother them, and we wanted the video as fast as possible, so the initial idea was "Why don't we shot the video ourselves with the iPhone camera?, cool! we said, but next question was "so what do we do in the video". That's when came the idea to shoot the video with the iPhone and present it with iPhones, initially the idea was to put 5 static iPhones, each member on each one, interacting, moving from one to the other, etc. The more complex "choreography" between them came after, when I was working on the story board.

HR: What was the processes to shoot and edit the video?
RB: After creating the main screenplay on paper, I had created 5 different ones from that main one, for each memeber of the band. Once everyone was happy with that, we went for production. The whole point was to create a "guerilla style" video, but even for that you need some level of artistry, specially in the photography department, we had the idea but we need those professional eyes, so we ended "bothering" our good friends Rafael Mata for DP and "camera" (the iPhone's )and Alejandra Romero and Marlene Mata from Blue Hope Prod for the production. We shot five different videos in five different locations, with a very simple illumination and production, a very detailed (and strict) screenplay but with a home made feel. Then I edited each one (in Pro Tools!) placed them in five different devices, and then we shot the 5 iPhones playing in sync (with a Panasonic P2 HD cam) in a single pass. After a little color correction... done!

HR: What were the technical challenges that you found?
RB: A few, for example, to create a smooth camera movement with such a small and light device was a difficult task for Rafael, we created what we called "the woodycam" we tied the iPhone to a piece of wood with velcro, and we used 2 C-clamps as handles.
The actual syncing of the 5 devices was a pain since we had to do it manually. For this I placed a one frame flash with a beep (a 2 pop) in the first second of each movie, so right after we press play on all of them we knew we were in sync already, and if not we wouldn't have to wait for almost the whole video to know if we were in sync. If all the 2 pops flashed at once we knew we were OK right from the beginning.

But the real problem was that we had 3 different devices, 2 iPhone 3Gs, 2 2Gs and one iPod Touch for the playback. 3 different devices, 3 different cpu speeds, 3 different times to start playing after you hit play! we figured out "by ear" more or less those timings, (thanks to the 2 pops).
The other challenge was to film the 5 iPhones and find a good balance between light and the brightness of the devices, also focus was an issue, because part of the choreography was to sometimes put the devices very close to the lens, Rafael had to follow those movements and correct the focusing thru the entire piece.

HR: How about the capabilities of these devices for this task?
RB: At some moment I thought to shoot each video with a pro camera and then play those videos on the iPhones, but I quickly abandoned that idea after I shot with the guys a scratch version of the video with the iPhone (as originally planned) , and we realized that the iPhone camera was very "forgiving" with us, you know, we are a bunch of ugly guys, but we liked how we looked filmed on the iPhone, I guess its texture helps us a lot! LOL!. Also the iPhone lens and autofocus are very versatile, it really is shoot and go, it adapts rapidly to any lighting conditions, so the shooting was very easy .

HR: Do you think this is a trend? We will be seeing more videos shot with handheld devices? Or Supersam did it and now its 'passé'?
RB: I'm totally positive that people is going to start doing things like this, because is a tool people already have in their pockets, and is a very versatile one. Possibilities are endless. Artistically speaking people just need to know their technical limitations and put them on their side.

HR: Yeah, I guess the old saying that "The best camera is the one that it is with you" is truer than ever...

There is a lot of discussion about people stepping into each other courts, amateurs selling stock photos on the internet, photographers shooting video...What can you say about a bass player directing a musical video shoot on iPhones?

RB: With today's technology, the sky is the limit, and especially in media arts the rules are there to be broken,every day. I don't see a problem with that . There is good and really bad stuff made both by professionals as well as by amateurs in every field.

HR: On a related note, How does this play out in the music industry and where do you see it going? The musical industry has been dealing longer with the "new economy" of 99 cent downloads and $300 studios...
RB: This video is both cause and consequence of the current state of the record industry and the world economy. You got to be creative to make your work known. The large record companies are not developing artists nor investing in them as they used to do. At the same time they are not strictly necessary anymore to make yourself known. They are guilty of what's happening to them, I don't feel sorry for them, it is just the way it is and we all have to figure out how to survive.

Check out the video!

Huba Rostonics is a Florida-based Photographer. He is constantly looking for new things to put a frame around. You can check his work at and read his articles on The Examiner at You can also follow Huba on twitter @

No comments: