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Shooting a feature-length movie with an iPad: "Curtis & Dave Are Dead"

John Gibson is a driven moviemaker who has made a feature length movie using a 3rd generation iPad as the camera. The movie deals with death and the supernatural, and the video is supposed to look like it was made by the characters who were planning to upload it to YouTube.

The film, called Curtis & Dave Are Dead, takes place on a farm in rural Ohio. Gibson loved the big screen of the iPad because his actors could view their scenes right away. Audio was provided by a Rode microphone plugged into the iPad. Almost all the movie was shot on the iPad, but for scenes where a wide angle lens was needed a Sony camera was used.

Everything was done on a shoestring. Casting was accomplished through Craigslist, and Gibson used his own money to get the production underway.

Gibson says there were challenges to using the iPad, chiefly battery life. He could generally get through a 10 hour day, but when he was shooting indoors he tried to keep the iPad plugged in. He thought the 1080p video from the iPad was quite good, and could be blown up for a forthcoming DVD and Blu-ray release of the movie.

Gibson edited the movie in Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini and Mac Book Pro. The 80-minute movie can be rented or purchased at the movie website and it's being offered through Vimeo. You can view a trailer here.

I asked Gibson about lessons learned, and he advised aspiring movie makers to not be discouraged by their education or high equipment costs. Low-cost gear is available, as Gibson proved, and there is great software to help you create your movie. So far, Curtis & Dave Are Dead has had good feedback and some people are renting it multiple times for repeat viewings.

In the future, Gibson says he hopes a future iPad will have even better video capabilities, and if he was doing it all again he'd want external battery packs for the iPad and a more powerful Mac for editing.

Gibson plans to enter the movie in local and national film festivals, and hopes the film will get picked up by a good distributor. The clips of the film I saw looked intriguing, and I continue to marvel at what creative people can do with Apple gear.

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