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May 24, 2014

Meet the man who made the 50 Lumia Arc of Wonder video

Take 50 Lumia 1020s, add some ingenious creative film-making and one of the world’s most vibrant cities, and what do you get?

A “bullet-effect” Matrix style photo shoot titled Living Moments, that’s what. This amazing video shot on the fantastically named Arc of Wonder is quite unlike any you’ve ever seen. Unsurprisingly, it has already been viewed by nearly 350 000 people on YouTube and we’re sure they’ll be plenty more. Less surprising is that the man behind the project is Paul Trillo. Last year, he created another incredible visual masterpiece using Lumia 1020s, NY41x41, where he took us on a wonderful journey down 41 blocks of a Manhattan street. So, what is it about this New York filmmaker that draws him to smartphone film-making and how does he keep on coming up with these incredible ideas. To find out this and more, we hooked up with Paul. Here’s what he had to say.

The revolving movement made us think of the world going round and time passing. What inspired you to shoot a video like this and what feelings do you want to provoke in viewers?

Part of the concept behind this, was to show how these disparate places and people are linked together. Something I’ve been more and more aware of lately is who I am surrounded by on a daily basis. This feeling is something that is unique to living in a big city such as New York. We walk through these crowds of people, stand next to a person, accidentally make eye contact with a stranger; all with keeping these people at a distance.

By creating this continuous camera motion, gives a sense of shared experience. That even though these people are all living vastly different lives, they are connected by the city.

Living Moments is quite literally headspinning… how did you come up with such an amazing cinematic technique?

I had wanted to do something with the frozen time effect for awhile. So when Nokia Brand Labs approached me to do something with 50 Lumia 1020s, I thought it was the perfect opportunity.

However, just using cell phones to shoot ‘bullet time’ or ‘frozen time’ is sort of gimmicky. It needed a point. So what made sense for me was to do something 100% mobile. I was tired of seeing the bullet time effect contained to a studio. For me, it was a matter of getting out to the streets and trying to capture something real. I thought it would be interesting to create some sort of surreal camera motion and time manipulation while documenting reality simultaneously.

Part of the challenge was coming up with a looping camera movement that could transition from multiple places. We had discussed aligning the phones looking for a way to create the typical looping camera movement with the subject in the center. Although it didn’t feel fresh or innovative enough. Something else I had wanted to do for awhile was create a camera motion that could go underground and come back up again. So it was a matter of combining the two ideas and turning the rig perpendicular to the way it’s usually conceived.

There are countless people featured, what’s your favorite scene and why?

There are obviously cool moments such as the pigeon man and skater that I’m pleased we were able to capture. However, I found myself more compelled to the more subtle, intimate portraits. It really isn’t something you’re used to seeing with a bullet-time type rig. It became more about distilling that moment personal moment rather than doing something simply ‘crazy’ or ‘cool’. One of the moments that really sticks out for me was the man with no shirt sitting on the bench next to two sophisticated looking New Yorkers discussing an art exhibition next to a man sun bathing with no shirt on. The people at two opposite ends of the bench from two completely different worlds, sitting next to each other felt so quintessential New York. The guy with no shirt told me the key to looking good at 75 years old is that he hasn’t raised his voice in 50 years.

You used 50 Lumia 1020s to film this. Which features made the device especially suitable?


First off, I can confidently say that this rig and this concept could have only been pulled of with cameras the size of cell phone devices. Getting 50 of any other type of camera is expensive and cumbersome.

The amount of devices we pack into a small amount of space (roughly 10 feet) wouldn’t have allowed for lenses or bulky camera bodies. They needed to be flat and compact. And really the Lumia 1020 easily has the best camera on the market, so it makes sense.

The 1020 is known for it’s 41 megapixel camera but it has other useful features that we took advantage of. The high resolution images were key in post stabilizing these images to create a fluid camera movement. The other key feature we tapped into was the complete manual control of the camera settings (ISO, White Balance, Shutterspeed, etc). The app we created for the Surface gave us complete control of these parameters.

You’ve now created two incredible short films on Lumia 1020s, NY41x41 and Living Moments. How has the Lumia 1020 changed the way you think about movie making and expanded the possibilities to experiment?

I feel like the 41×41 video was just sort of scraping the surface of what could be done and we really pushed it to the next level with this piece. The Lumia 1020 has brought a quality to the camera that the other cell phone devices haven’t reached yet. They designed it with photographers and filmmakers in mind. It allows you to move quicker and place a lens in somewhere you would never be able to fit before. Pushing 50 of these devices through the street was only possible with a camera the size of the 1020. So it allowed us to go places we wouldn’t have been able to go before. It’s really about exploring the outside world and having a device on you at all times that can properly capture those moments.

We don’t know about you, but if this is just the beginning of what Paul has planned for smartphone film-making, we can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. In the meantime, why not share your thoughts and questions in the comments below, and we’ll see if we can get Paul to answer them.