When Sebastian Lindstrom, co-founder of What Took You So Long, and his team journeyed to Liberia to shoot their latest documentary, they employed an iPhone 5s equipped with the iPro Lens System by Schneider Optics. “We are a small documentary production company that specializes in supporting nonprofits and development entities around the world,” explains Lindstrom. “Our method of filmmaking depends on high quality, lightweight equipment.”
The team took two Canon EOS 5Ds to the West African country to shoot a documentary about women with obstetric fistula; the effort was co-funded by the United Nations Populations Fund. They also took a Canon EOS 7D and an Apple iPhone to capture slow motion and extreme close-up footage.
“We shot with the iPhone 5s—mostly in 720p at 120 fps—and iPro Super Wide and iPro Macro lenses,” he says. “The macro captures the same details as a $1,000 lens would. It’s amazing how close you can get with it—so close, we were able to position it just inches from a person’s iris.” That sequence is shown in the video’s opening sequence.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, “The iPro Super Wide frames a much bigger picture of the world than the native camera inside the iPhone,” Lindstrom adds. “While at a stadium in Monrovia for a big soccer game between Liberian and Ghanaian teams, the president of Liberia came out on the field to wish everybody good luck. The iPro Super Wide lens enabled us to spontaneously capture innovative wide angle shots for slow motion content. In retrospect, we should have left the 7D at home because the daylight footage we caught with the iPhone and iPro lenses was superior—and the iPhone was much easier to pack.”
While the DSLR revolution gave the world access to smaller, less expensive cameras, Lindstrom says, “Filming with a phone takes it to another level, as you can quickly position angles that your DSLR would require a jib for, and a phone is something most people travel with anyway. You could never get smooth traveling shots by holding your DSLR outside of a car window with your hand like we did with the iPhone. We believe that the iPro Lens System used in conjunction with the iPhone 5s for slow motion filming has the potential to become an important value-added component for any type of documentary work. We plan to use them in all our upcoming shoots around the world as an integral part of our DSLR filming.”
For the past five years, What Took You So Long has worked within more than 70 developing countries. “Some of the areas we travel to may not take kindly to visiting filmmakers,” he says. “So it’s very beneficial to be able to shoot with the iPhone, now with professional-grade lenses that are easy to conceal.”