Phonecamming killed the viiiiiiiii-deo star

Here’s the next phase-transition in modern media: MTV videos shot using mobile phones. Apparently a video director named Grant Marshall was carping about the incredibly stingy budgets of today’s videos, which force him to shoot on cheaper and cheaper quality film. “Next,” he complained, “they’ll expect me to shoot on my phone.” Then he thought: Hey — cool idea.

Thus was born the video for “Some Postman”, the latest single from the power-pop band The Presidents of the United States. Marshall took 12 Sony Ericsson K750i phones and mounted them on tripods while the band played through its song 30 times in a row. But that was only the beginning of the tribulations of dealing with such a gnarly, lo-fi recording technology, as The Seattle Times reports:

The resolution on cellphones is equivalent to 1/3000 of the quality of normal video, Marshall said. [snip]

And although the manufacturer promised that they’d record 15 frames per second, they only did 10.

To overcome this limitation, the band performed at half time. Editors later sped the footage back up.

After Marshall was done, he used bluetooth to extract the video to his Mac editing suite. Though it was obviously a big hassle to produce, the resulting aesthetic is pretty cool: Marshall took advantage of the tight focus of the shots to layer images inside of one another. If you want to see the video, the original is here, and my friend Andrew has archived a less-jerky copy here. But it got me wondering: This can’t be the first time someone has done this. Has anyone else ever seen a phonecam-shot video before?

(Thanks to Andrew Hearst for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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