Smartphone users (whether iOS or Android) were offered a storehouse of tips for making successful videos with their devices when Village resident Carmen Pacella addressed our General Meeting on April 20. His focus was “Thinking Outside the Box.”
Carmen said he began teaching himself “iPhone-ography” five years ago after his wife, Dorothy, was invited to do on-camera interviews and narration for “The Thrive Show,” a monthly half-hour TV series produced for Village Television by the late Scott Marvel. Scott, a Video Club instructor and past-president, was well-known as an iPhone evangelist – and his message impressed Carmen.
At about the same time – as a musician and band member – Carmen was very unimpressed by the stationary, tripod-bound results when his band hired a professional to make a video for them. He bought a gimbal for his iPhone and captured the band from every angle – with his phone steadied by the small, hand-held, battery-powered stick. Carmen even went outside the box, inviting audience members to hold the rig and find new angles for him.
But more iPhone video adventures were awaiting the Pacellas.
Carmen began producing Chicago Club travel videos, interview videos for the History Center and other Village groups, and more band videos – doing all the shooting and editing himself. “Eventually,” he said, “We had to cut back.”
Carmen turned the mic over to his wife, Dorothy (below), who is also involved with the day-long regional bus tours sponsored by the Village’s large, active Chicago Club. When the bus trips were shut down during COVID, she said, she and Carmen made a 90-minute video on the history of the Village (still shown periodically on Village Television). “That’s the video we got the most feedback on,” Dorothy recalled. “You can reach 50 people on a bus, but 18,000 on TV.”
Graphics has been a life-long passion for Carmen. In the 1960s, he majored in photography, filmmaking, and commercial art at Pittsburgh’s Ivy School of Art. Later, he worked in global corporate sales and marketing of photographic and printing equipment. He recalled designing complex graphics devices that brought “endless questions” from his clients. Thinking outside the box, he made a VHS “how-to” videotape to help answer the queries. He also recalled shooting black-and-white film on a 16mm, turret-lens, wind-up Bolex and editing in the camera. Remember those days? His work also brought him in contact with famed photographer Ansel Adams as a client and friend.
Discussing the software he uses to create iPhone videos, Carmen says he keeps it “as simple as possible.” An inexpensive monthly subscription to Filmic Pro equips his iPhone with many advanced video controls, including lighting and sound management. He edits in iMovie, stores his files in Dropbox, and uses an external hard drive with his Mac computer. An “off-the-shelf,” $100 Hohem gimbal is an essential tool. He also uses a battery pack and a transmitter with wireless mics connected to the gimbal.
“Hohem’s gimbal software does not work with Filmic Pro,” Carmen pointed out. “Had I known that, I might have looked at other gimbal brands.”
Recalling that he was forced to replace a “cheap mic” — sidelined with a minor problem — because it was not repairable, Carmen advised, “Now I buy better-quality mics that can be repaired.” A plus factor, of course, is better sound.
“If you’s shooting outside with your iPhone in the summer,” Carmen warned, “your phone will overheat. You can’t avoid it.” His solution? “I borrow my wife’s iPhone and keep shooting.”
Sticking with his “keep it simple” mantra, Carmen uses his gimbal in basic mode, although other modes are available. “One great advantage with the gimbal,” he pointed out, “is that museums will let you in with them. They won’t let you in with a tripod.”
He also keeps it simple by using no artificial light. “I call it my ‘cinema verite,'” he quipped. Another tip: “Stay in airplane mode when shooting. You won’t get calls.”
“Have plenty of battery power,” Carmen also advised, adding that a major benefit of Filmic Pro is its ability to upload files while shooting. “Your phone’s memory fills up too fast,” he pointed out. “Using Filmic Pro, I can shoot for hours.”
OK, Video Club members!
With all this good advice, what are you waiting for?
Let’s see those smartphone videos you’re going to shoot!!
Above are Dorothy Pacella and Chicago Club tour leader Bill Hoffman of Hoffy Tours in a video clip Carmen shared with his presentation.
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