This extraordinary orchestra, exclusively female and mentored by the illustrious Oscar-winning Composer A.R. Rahman, comprises 56 musicians hailing from 28 different nationalities. A harmonious fusion that mirrors the diverse tapestry of our city, the orchestra pays homage to the legendary Ennio Morricone. Join us on a three-piece tribute, unraveling the musical brilliance behind Cinema Paradiso, Ecstasy of Gold (The Good, The Bad And The Ugly), and Man With A Harmonica (Once Upon a Time in the West).
WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE THE IPHONE 15 PRO FOR SHOOTING YOUR LATEST VIDEOS?
Institutionally, we’ve all been avid users of Apple products. But obviously, it became a compelling choice for us to explore this shoot with the iPhone 15 Pro, which is an incredibly friendly device that has features that can compete with most professional cameras. So for this experience with the Firdaus Orchestra, we wanted to use a device that’s very promising yet comfortable as this was fitting in all our pockets!
Also, why not!
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR OVERALL EXPERIENCE SHOOTING VIDEOS WITH THE IPHONE 15 PRO?
It was incredible! It was also a whole of lot of learning and challenges, both. It’s very common for a film maker to use one iPhone and start filming scripted content. For this shoot, our approach was very different. We replicated a broadcast multi camera system which meant that we shot with 12 iPhones at one go.
The orchestra comprises of more than 55 talented women and a powerful, animated conductor who brought the eclectic music to life. It needed a lot of coverage. This meant we had to plan for battery life, storage and limited access to previews. But with the right planning and belief, the code was cracked.
Having so many phones in action was exciting and it was made very easy because unlike with the film cameras, the phones keep rolling and that really is the first step in the revolution of phone filming!
WERE THERE ANY SPECIFIC FEATURES OF THE IPHONE 15 PRO THAT YOU FOUND PARTICULARLY USEFUL FOR VIDEO RECORDING?
The ability of the phone to directly record into memory drives makes shooting with this phone a hero feature besides the intelligent features that phone boasts of, although particularly, the ‘cinematic mode’, which also allows for focus shifting in post production, the subject recognition, the sensors, the adaptability to low light and smooth zooming just makes this such a dynamic device. The curved edges also makes this a comfortable device in the hand, which is so important for moving shots.
The transition from the shoot to post production is effortless and because the phone can shoot o such high level formats, it’s only remarkable how much data a filmmaker has to work on even after the shoot is done!
HOW DID THE IPHONE 15 PRO HANDLE LOW LIGHT SITUATIONS DURING YOUR SHOOTS?
Quite a marvellous feature, indeed. While filming not just does the phone turn hero on low light situations but also adapting between different intensities of light makes this device so remunerative and powerful.
Because this shoot involved music that belonged to a few decades ago, we wanted to keep the character lighting and setting very true to the era, and the way the phone handled light variations and gave us the scope and data to freely grade made this experiment very optimum!
CAN YOU SHARE ANY TIPS OR TRICKS YOU LEARNED WHILE SHOOTING WITH THE IPHONE 15 PRO THAT COULD BE HELPFUL TO OTHER ASPIRING FILMMAKERS?
Keep your phone fully charged! It’s good to holiday with the phone for a while and understand each and every feature because there is much more in the phone to offer than we can imagine!
Unlike a single camera operation, this exercise was very unique for us as well. We had 12 phones rolling on the floor and we had the same number of cameras on standby. While it was useful to have hard drives connected to the phone, for dynamic shots that needed external grips or stability, it’s best to have two chains of phones and use them cyclically. And because, we were cloning a multi camera broadcast solution, we used an external software that turns your phone into an IP-ready live video source when connected to the same network, making it useful for previews.
DID YOU USE ANY EXTERNAL ACCESSORIES OR LENSES IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE IPHONE 15 PRO FOR SHOOTING YOUR VIDEOS?
No, not really. In this case, we wanted to use the iPhone 15 Pro and the iPhone 15 Pro max to its maximal potential without actually adding any external lensing or device. Our goal was to showcase the ability of the phone to shoot in its native state. We also wanted to showcase the look and feel of our shoot location, the Firdaus Studio, to the world. Everything in this video series is organic with no external embellishments. This was purely done to also reinstate that all one needs is the device, the subject and the location to film something extraordinarily thus overcoming the challenges of overwhelming and complicated production setups and budgets!
In your opinion, how does the video quaIN YOUR OPINION, HOW DOES THE VIDEO QUALITY OF THE IPHONE 15 PRO COMPARE TO TRADITIONAL PROFESSIONAL VIDEO CAMERAS?lity of the iPhone 15 Pro compare to traditional professional video cameras?
One wouldn’t tell the difference at all, trust me. Because the iPhone 15 Pro comes loaded with so many features, you aren’t actually compromising but in some ways competing with professional video cameras. And because of ease of use, ability and accessibility, the iPhone, besides giving matchable video quality to professional cameras, could become a professional choice for filming in the future, not surprised if it’s already a shift! You can make an entire film with just the phone with the offerings of this device.
DO YOU THINK THE IPHONE 15 PRO HAS THE POTENTIAL TO REVOLUTIONIZE THE WAY VIDEOS ARE FILMED IN THE INDUSTRY?
Indeed. It has. Just imagine the empowerment it gives to aspiring film makers like me. The innate capabilities of this machine could mean that in traditional ways, this could have been one heavy and oversized box with two people to carry and operate, but instead, it’s given you all these attributes in the size of your palm. It’s powerful and revolutionary both. You can now film anywhere, in any condition, without complications, just by clicking one action button! It also makes a common man an artiste and a creator. It enables individuals to become industrial. And with such high quality video outputs and enormous storage, the iPhone can be an economical graduation from ordinary to extraordinary. Needless to say, for people like me, the iPhone 15 Pro is a camera with an added feature to make phone calls!
On the other hand, step into the rhythmic realm of the orchestra as BURO takes you on a vibrant journey, delving deep into the heartbeat of musical magic. Unveiling the soul behind the sounds, we sit down for a rhythmic rendezvous with the incredibly talented Arabic Percussionist, Lama Kassem.
TELL US HOW IT’S DIFFERENT TO BE PART OF AN ALL-FEMALE ORCHESTRA?
I wouldn’t consider it as difference but sometimes the feminine energy plays a great role and helps with the flow of the artistic process.And in general, seeing all these women in their element makes me proud of how far we’ve come.
DOES IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO WORK WITH FEMALES OR MALES IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?
Every human has his/her own unique energy and personality, despite the gender, race or even culture. It doesn’t make any difference for me to work with females or males in the music industry. Music has its own journey in the soul before coming out to the world, and that’s what makes it different from one to another.
TELL US WHAT DIFFERENTIATE FIRDAUS ORCHESTRA FROM THE OTHERS?
Cultural and musical diversity is what differentiate this orchestra from the others. But this diversity can be a double-edged sword sometimes. Combining this number of musical and cultural backgrounds is a daily work of openness, humbleness and stepping out of our comfort zones to say: “please explain to me I’m not familiar with that kind of music”. And hearing this sentence from our conductor Monica for something that was related to Arabic music, made me feel that we are heading to the right direction.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE ENNIO MORRICONE’S MUSICALS THAT YOU’VE BEEN PART OF?
My experience with Ennio Morricone themes, and specially “WoMan with a harmonica” was one of my best experiences i had so far in this orchestra. The piece itself gives you the freedom to express yourself in whichever way you want. And despite my little fear of stepping out of my comfort zone, I finally enjoyed it. I enjoyed every step I did to make it work. At the end, that’s what really matters for me in music.I’m very grateful for this opportunity and for all the support I had.