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July 8, 2014

One Sky: Lumia Icon Challenge Winner

Your votes have been tallied. Drum roll, please …

This spring, we reported on the Lumia Icon Challenge: Shoot a short film on the theme “see and hear what you’ve been missing” in just three short weeks on a $10,000 budget using no audio or video equipment other than several Lumia Icon smartphones. The winner is Bad Hero Production’s dreamy, atmospheric film, “One Sky,” having received the most votes out of a final round of five videos.

Read more about the challenge and see all the finalists’ videos here.

“One Sky” (three minutes and 33 seconds) was shot in four locations around the world: Austin and Port Aransas, Texas; Shanghai, China; and just outside of Mexico City.

Here’s the winning video:


The idea behind the film was based on the capabilities of the Lumia Icon and its powerful camera, said David Estrada, chief executive officer of Bad Hero Production, based in Austin, Tex.

“What could a phone capture if it could go everywhere and see everything?” he said.

So in the film, the phone is represented by a dandelion, a symbol that literally transcends time and space to capture the stories of people around the world. David credits his friend, Stephen Robinson, for coming up with the idea.

“You’re supposed to make a wish when you blow on the dandelion,” David said, speaking of the characters in the film.


“The woman in Austin wants to get married, the kid in Mexico wants to be a good soccer player, the girl in China wants her mom to live and not have cancer. And it comes full circle to the woman in Austin, now married with a kid.”


Powerful video camera

As an independent filmmaker, David was especially impressed about the Lumia Icon camera’s macro capabilities, color accuracy and audio quality.

“Hold it up to a blade of grass and you can see every fiber. You can even see ants crawling around in the dirt. Amazing,” he said.

“And our director of photography said, ‘I’m not the DP on this, the phone is.’ He didn’t have to change the light balance or manual adjustments too much on the phone. A lot of it was just point and shoot.”

Other things this independent filmmaker liked about the Lumia Icon: its long battery life (“You can record for hours and hours”), its capacious memory, and the Nokia Camera app.

Look up: Unmanned drones!

The film’s dramatic, swooping aerial shots were done with the help of remote-controlled quadroter helicopters. To achieve smooth stable shots, David and his crew taped foam around the legs of a quadcopter to reduce vibration, then zip-tied a Lumia Icon to its body.

Check out the drones in action in this video documenting how “One Sky” was made:


Pretty cool, huh?!

Video tips

David shared a couple of tips to make compelling short films with your Lumia or other smartphone:

1. Make sure everything in the frame means something to you. “In the Mexico shoot, we found a little piece of newspaper and we put it in the soccer net — that little detail was important. We also chose a dirt soccer field because we wanted to show that the story wasn’t set in the U.S.”

2. Continuity. If, for example, a chair is featured in the background of a scene, if you exit the scene then return to it, make sure that chair is still in the same place. “Even though we jumped around to different locales, we kept the same perspective,” David said. “Details are important.”

What did you think of “One Sky”? Did the “making of” video give you a better idea how the film was produced?

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