How to: film 4 cell

An award-winning videographer and entrepreneur on the secrets of mobile movie making.

2006 | 2005

Funkify roller-coasters | Trade globally | Tap into the earth's heat | Broadcast to phones | Film 4 cell |
Pipe gas in the arctic | Grow a steak | Hear better on Bluetooth | Get right into the action | Slideshow

Let's face it, no one really wants to watch The Lord of the Rings on a cellphone. But that doesn't mean mobile movies — films delivered on a hand-held device — can't be useful or profitable: potential uses include field workers downloading instructive videos; consumers getting direct marketing messages; or, in the case of Palm Canada's recent Mobifest mobile movie competition, a bit of one-minute film fun.

The paradox of the mobile movie is that the videographer still has to rely on the basic tenets of filmmaking. That means a good story, better-than-average lighting and clean shots, says Harley Hay, owner of Harley Hay Studios in Red Deer, Alta., whose Regurgitation piece (left) won Mobifest. Hay let us in on his secrets.

How it works:

Making mobile movies means dealing with the tiny confines of a mobile screen. So, Hay uses lots of close-ups, then edits them together. He avoids trendy tricks, such as pans and zooms, which create video compression artefacts (that fuzzy stuff).

Hay uses as little dialogue as possible, because cellphones and hand-helds have audio limitations. He also uses a separate microphone to ensure the dialogue is as clear as possible. In Regurgitation, there are two lines in the whole movie, yet it's still funny. Since conversation-heavy stories aren't going to work very well, Hay prefers to make action-based movies, with plenty of movement and fun. Subtitles move a story along as well, but make sure they're big enough to be read clearly.

Editing software is a must. Hay uses a $10,000 Avid Xpress system, but Apple's Final Cut Studio or Windows Movie Maker are much cheaper. When editing, less is more: take out anything even remotely extraneous to get to the bare bones of the story.