Legendary New York movie director, Martin Scorsese once said, “Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out.” Anyone lucky enough to see the latest stunning short film by US filmmaker, Paul Trillo, will understand the wisdom of Scorsese’s words. Shot on a Nokia Lumia 1020, NY 41X41 takes us on an incredible journey down 41 blocks of a Manhattan street. We hooked up with Paul to find out more about the film and the smartphone that made it all possible.
NY 41X41 is an amazingly immersive film. What inspired you to make a film like this and why did you choose New York City?
The idea came out of conversations with the Nokia team. They loved the opening credits of the movie Limitless and thought it epitomized the philosophy behind the Nokia Lumia 1020. We decided it would be cool to try and do something similar with a smartphone.
We wanted an idea, which utilized the ability to zoom in on the Lumia 1020’s 41 mega pixel photos. The video needed to feel as if you could travel within a single image and continue forever. The lengthy avenues and giant hallways of buildings in New York are mesmerizing, so I think this technique is very fitting to the city that seems to have no ends. Also I thought it would be interesting to not only zoom through the city but through time and watch the city awaken.
The only thing that appears to be moving is the viewer along the street. How did you create this sensation?
The effect is essentially an image within an image, repeated 41 times. So basically once one photo of a city block magnifies, the following block fills the frame. The scaling or zooming effect has quite a different feeling than if you were actually traveling in a car down the street. Being able to continually zoom is something the brain is not used to seeing so it definitely plays with your perception.
Clearly the title is a based upon the Lumia 1020’s 41mp camera. How did the Lumia 1020 features make this film possible?
This effect is only possible with incredibly high resolution source images. A few years ago making a film like this with a camera phone would have seemed unfathomable. The 1020 camera shoots photos at 41 megapixels, which is close to 8k in resolution in video terms. HD video is less than 2k in resolution, so there is a ton of flexibility to do some impossible zooming effects. It’s really the case of technology allowing for new techniques and creativity.
Engadget called the Nokia Lumia 1020’s camera “simply stunning”. What did you think of the camera, both from a professional and personal perspective?
I was immediately impressed with the camera’s manual controls. It’s something I wanted from a camera phone since the beginning. It’s clear that the developers understand why having these controls are important for anyone who wants to take a decent photo. From the long exposures to action shots there are a lot of capabilities that simply weren’t available in the past.
Plus, the touch screen controls pretty much blows any standard point-and-shoot out of the water. The best camera is the one you have on you and these days for most people it’s their phone. I think we’ve become used to those camera phone images being of poorer quality. Why not make that camera actually useful? Upping the standard makes me feel like Nokia really respects content creators.
If you could make a similar film again, which city would you choose and why?
My first thought would be logically either Paris or Tokyo because of the sheer density of those cities. Although I think it would be cool to use this technique to travel through the desert or something completely different than the New York concrete jungle. Actually a real Amazon jungle would be pretty incredible.
We hope you’re as wowed as much as us by this beautifully crafted film. If you’d like to know more about how it was made, then be sure to tune into Nokia Conversations next week, when we’ll be showcasing a unique behind-the-scenes video and hearing more from Paul. Alternatively, if you can’t wait that long, zoom into the comments below and leave us your questions right now.