Mat Whitecross, a previous Virgin Media Shorts winner and now judge for 2012, provides his top five technology ‘must haves’ for making short films.
1) Final Cut Pro – Overnight the arrival of FCP in the ’90s revolutionised filmmaking for me. Yes there were other alternatives, but Final Cut was so beautifully designed, and it even worked on a laptop, instantly democratising the post process. As a result, I’ve worked on my last 3 films on a MacBook Pro with Pete my editor able to email me his cuts while I’ve been abroad. Apple seemed to take leave of their senses last year with the release of Final Cut X, which is totally unsuitable for editing features, but hopefully this is being addressed as we speak.
2) Canon 5D – There are a lot of similar cameras following in its wake, but the first time I used this on a documentary, it was so unobtrusive, it suddenly opened up the interviewees in a completely new way. I’ve shot on the RED and Alexa recently, and while the 5D will never be able to compete at that level, for low budget filmmaking it’s indispensable.
3) Google Street View – Location hunting can be mind-numbingly slow and tedious, and often cold and wet. I’ve spent weeks pacing round the streets of a city only to find the funding’s collapsed and we’re now shooting in an entirely new location. So when Google introduced a Street View option online, everything changed. It’s never going to replace wandering around on foot completely, but for exterior locations it’s an incredible way to narrow a search down to an area, or even a street.
4) Artemis director’s viewfinder – Beautiful as a real viewfinder is, they’re unbelievably pricey and unless you’re actually on a shoot, chances are you won’t have the lenses to attach to it. The iPhone has loads of great apps for film shoots (although the one most of the crew end up using (myself included) is Instagram instead of concentrating on the job!)
5) Cinemek storyboard composer – Another iPhone app. I’m terrible at drawing and although I don’t tend to storyboard, for VFX sequences or complicated set ups, it’s pretty invaluable as a shorthand. Someone showed me this the other day, and I’m determined to use it on my next music video. Although there’s nothing like a proper storyboard artist if you can get one…
Mat Whitecross is really excited to be back working with Virgin Media Shorts and made this comment about being on this year’s judging panel: “I know exactly how challenging it can be to break into this industry and so being there to reveal the shortlist was a truly special experience. The hard part now begins for us judges in choosing from the wealth of talent submitted this year, and I’d really urge all film fans to check out virginmediashorts.co.uk for their chance to vote in the People’s Choice Award.”