All about FiLMiC Pro. Interview with his developer, Neill Barham (1/2)

Filmic Pro is without a doubt the favorite video recording app of all professional and amateur filmmakers anywhere in the world, the best app for all those who want to make the most of the potential of their iPhone or iPad videocameras.

Today,, has the great pleasure indeed of bringing you an exclusive interview that we conducted with his developer, Neill Barham.

This interview will be brought to you in two different parts, in two consecutive posts in our blog. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Conrad Mess, the Spanish filmmaker, who put us in touch with Neill, making this possible, and to Pilar Oncina for the translation (in Spanish available in this link).

Look closely, because what you are about to read is very, very interesting!

FiLMiC Pro and Cinegenix are going places! Founder and CEO Neill Barham films the Star Clipper bowsprit of the coast of Antigua.

What are the advantages of a smartphone opposite to a small videocamera?

The simple and familiar answer is that its always with you. But for many people with access to other cameras the inclination is to still shoot mobile and hopefully with FiLMiC Pro and that’s because it is fun, immediate, visceral.

Additionally, think there are three other significant advantages:

  1. Intimacy. The cameras are so small and unassuming, people are generally more comfortable around them compared to traditional video cameras or DSLRs that you end up getting a better “performances” or more revealing content than you would otherwise have gotten with a more expensive camera.
  1. Placement. This is also a result of their size. Smartphones can fit in anywhere; face up on a skateboard, on a shelf on the refrigerator, or the dashboard or car or inside a wine glass, filmmakers are only limited by their imagination.
  1. Processing power. Smartphones are small supercomputers with tons of applications capable of editing and post processing your footage and then sharing it, all without having to change platform. That is incredibly powerful.

When, and why did you come up with the idea of developing an application to video record with an iPhone?

I was a frustrated independent filmmaker in Seattle when a friend of mine developed an early Storyboard app and I became enchanted with the idea of getting into app development. When the iPhone 4 came out with 720p HD video I saw the impending future of everyone becoming video enabled storytellers. Not just want to be Scorcese’s but everyone. Journalists, musicians, academics, artists, athletes, they were all going to become digital storytellers and content creators and FiLMiC Pro was born to give them as much manual control over image capture as possible. The kind of control they would expect to find on a camera costing thousands of dollars.

Filmic Pro, app de vídeo iOS
Beta testing in Flensburg, Germany with the FiLMiC Pro Content Team: Neill Barham using the mCAM, Majek Pictures director Michael Koerbel with the Kessler Slider, and Storyboard Composer founder Jonathan Houser with iProLens Kit atop the Joby Gorillapod.

How many people helped you out or participated in the development of Filmic Pro?

Around 20 over the past few years. A lot of passionate, talented people committed to pushing the envelope of what was possible at every stage of the iOS and it would often take a new perspective to find a successful solution or work around to the things we were trying to do. But there is a balance to strike always between too many and too few and I think some of our recent growing pains, were centered around that. So with this most recent update we have stripped out all the all code, well over 90% of it, and rewritten the app from scratch in essentially a signal voice from our lead engineer, Steve Eldridge. That is not only going to yield significant and immediate improvements in stability, it also provides us a great foundation to approach iOS 8.

We thought that the upgrade to iOS7 was complicated, would you say that’s an accurate perception, was it really so difficult?

Integrating new features into an app as complex as FiLMiC Pro is always a challenge as many features work only in a select combination and the introduction of even one new adjustment to the pipeline can thrown many existing configurations off, so the task of not only making every new feature work well, but every possible available new combination of settings work well is enough to induce many late nights. Now imagine the onslaught of new features possible with a major iOS update and that process just goes into overload. The fewer functions and the fewer combinations you have the simpler the process. To give but one recent example, we were working on incorporating Live Streaming into FiLMiC Pro, and it was such an absurd discussion about well this will work, that won’t. This could, but not with that feature enabled… that it finally became very easy to say, you know what we’r ejust going to go build a stand alone Live Streaming app that does one thing and does it well and doesn’t have to support all the functionality that a traditional FiLMiC Pro user might need.

How does Filmic Remote contribute to its “sister” Filmic?

FiLMiC Remote is a nice prelude to a much cooler piece of kit, presently it is a Wifi or BlueTooth enabled way to control FiLMiC Pro from a separate device so you can control it remotely when your primary camera is on jib or a dolly or a skateboard or what have you. Soon the technology will enable us to do a whole range of interactive, collaborative things.

El equipo de desarrolladores de Filmic Pro
The FiLMiC Pro Content Team tests out an ambitious OTS (Over the Shoulder) shot on the streets of Stockholm with a Kessler Slider, the mCAM Lite and a wide angle lens.

What other applications, not developed by your company, would be a good addition or accessory to your Filmic Pro?

First off, Apple has really hit a home run with their new version of iMovie. It is a HUGE leap over what they had before and moves them to the front of the pack for editing on a mobile platform, though we still think highly of Pinnacle Studio and Touch Edit for high end mobile alternatives. Videograde is a wonderful color correcting tool. Chromic and MovieLooks offer some nice filter alternatives as do 8mm Vintage Camera and iSupr 8. Though I should mention we’ve been working on our own filter solutions and will be moving aggressively into that space in the year ahead. Other great pre-production applications would be Shot Lister, Storyboard Composer, SunSeeker and Artemis. Vyclone a highly innovative app hinting at new possibilities and Tilt Shift Video is a long time favorite with some wonderfully diverse controls for manipulating your video. There are lots of interesting innovators in the space with undoubtedly more to come.

We think that Sony QX10 and QX100 are very revolutionary apps, but we are not able to use them with Filmic Pro, do you think that would change in the near future?

Rumor has it they are releasing an SDK for developers but it wasn’t available the last we looked. If so, we will definitely add it to the upcoming release as the QX10 and QX100 are ground breaking accessories for mobile devices, though I’ve yet to see them truly catch on. Another great piece of kit that I’d love to give a shout out to and that we are aiming to implement soon would be the Kick light from Rift Labs, a great bunch of guys in the UK. The Kick allows you to adjust intensity and color temperature from 2500 to 10000 Kelvin, out of a compact LED that fastens to the front of your mobile device. Highly recommended!

Neill Barham, creador de FiLMiC Pro
Neill Barham on the streets of Madrid participating in an EyeEm community Mobile Masterclass.

How many times have you been asked to develop the application for Android? Why is it so complicated?

More times that we can count, yet with all of the perceived demand, when we went to Kickstarter for it we only got halfway their. So couple that with the fragmentation issues, different handsets, different sizes, different cameras, different carriers, and we start thinking of developing only for Samsung devices but as convenient as that would be for our developing cycle it leaves out a lot of creatives on shooting with Sony Xperia Z2, or HTC Ones or LG and then you’re right back to square one with the fragmentation issue. I will say that philosophically we would like to be a creative alternative for anyone, anywhere on the globe regardless of device, so somewhere down the road, you never know. But for now the new developments within Apple to hire 24 more engineers for the camera hardware and software are paying off for iOS developers Big Time. iOS 8 and the reported changes to at least the larger of the iPhone 6s (optical Image Stabilization for example) make us very excited for what we can do on iOS in the near future.

I am sure that you thought that this first part of the interview to Neill Barham was fascinating, so we are hoping that you will share this post (with your friends and network) to reach the largest number of interested people as possible, all enjoying our same thrill.

Be sure to subscribe to our blog not to miss the second part of the interview to Neill. He will tell us all the latest news on his FiLMiC Pro, and will share his opinion as to where he thinks the future of videos made with smartphones will take us. Also, you will learn why he has a special relationship with Spain. (Don’t miss it!). See you soon!

UPDATE: All about FiLMiC Pro. Interview with his developer, Neill Barham (2/2)