Shoot a blockbuster on your smartphone

Smartphones and Kinect will mean you can make a blockbuster on a budget, says The Dark Knight Rises' VFX guru

Tech like smartphones and Kinect will be the tools of tomorrow for budding Spielbergs, according to The Dark Knight Rises VFX supervisor Paul J Franklin.

Speaking to at the start of The VFX Festival, Franklin explains that, "There's a whole new generation of film-makers who are growing up in the digital age. The ability to make films on your smartphone is something that wasn't even guessed at when I got into film-making and visual effects 20-odd years ago."

He points to the recent film Monsters, directed by Gareth Edwards, as an example – it was shot using a Sony EX3 camcorder and edited on a home computer. "With that film, you see a good example of a film that perhaps couldn't have been made a few years ago," says Franklin. "Not just because the effects technology didn't exist, but because it didn't exist at a price that allowed him to experiment and do things that a more commercially-minded film wouldn't be able to do."

New tech like Microsoft's Kinect is making motion-capture – previously the preserve of big-budget directors like James Cameron and Peter Jackson –

accessible to all. "A Kinect costs a couple of hundred dollars," says

Franklin, "whereas an optical capture system will set you back the best part of US$100,000. It's a little like when cheap synthesisers started turning up in music, 30-odd years ago. Suddenly people were able to start experimenting with sounds and ways of music that they'd been shut out from."

The Visual Effects Festival is hosted by UK-based VFX training house Escape Studios. "It's a celebration of the visual effects industry in this country," explains Dom Davenport, founder and CEO of the company. In recent years, UK VFX houses have provided effects for blockbusters like Prometheus (pictured), Harry Potter and The Dark Knight Rises, and the festival's aiming to recognise their achievements.

"You can go out with a Canon 5D or a 7D, or some sort of DSLR and shoot something that on a small screen looks as good as anything you'll see in the movies," says Davenport. "The likes of Monsters and District 9, those sorts of films, you're seeing more and more of that sort of thing – the tools that we would run on a machine that'd cost £30-£50,000 for a single user now cost five grand."

So what are you waiting for? Grab your movie-making kit and go take on Hollywood.

Prometheus images courtesy of MPC

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