Thursday, February 12, 2015

WFAA iPhone show host Mike Castellucci talks how he did it; plus advice on how you can do it

WFAA Dallas Good Morning Texas host Mike Castellucci shares his iPhone shooting secrets

Mike Castellucci
Mike Castellucci 
A few weeks ago when I wrote about WFAA Dallas Good Morning Texas host Mike Castellucci shooting an entire half-hour special with iPhone, who knew that it would sweep the internet like it did.

As the unofficial Houston bureau of the TV trade industry, many of my posts have a life beyond this blog, but this Dallas post seemed to have a big life on its own.

I got in touch with Castellucci (possibly on his iPhone) and asked him about the special, Phoning It In, that has received so much attention as of late. WATCH THE SPECIAL HERE

Mike McGuff: Why did you decide to shoot a special with an iPhone?

Mike Castellucci: Occasionally I was shooting and editing stories on the iPhone for our 4pm broadcast and was enjoying the way they were looking. I had done a few half hour special in the conventional way and I knew I could do it. I started thinking that it’s nearly impossible to be the first at something in TV anymore, but this could be it.

MM: What were the challenges?

MC: I think the biggest challenges quite honestly involved the structure. I really wanted to drive home the fact that I was doing it alone with one phone. I also wanted to talk about the elephant in the room...the fact that this type of technology is coming and being used like it or not. So, discussing it with some humor, (Mark Muller, our chief photographer, was terrific) was a goal. Technical challenges were few. I never could really zoom in to anything and make it look good, so I would just get close. (Can’t really show the crane operator without climbing up the dang ladder!)

MM: Do you suggest any apps or equipment?

MC: The only app I used was a free time lapse app that now is standard on the 6. I did it on a 5, and sure enough, the line near the end of “27 minutes ago this phone was IN, now it’s probably outdated” really fits!

95 percent of the time, I had a wide angle attachment on it. It’s called the olloclip, just slides over the camera lens. About 50 bucks I think.

The audio is clear thanks to an attachment you plug in to the headphone jack. I plugged that in to a wireless transmitter I’d put in my pocket and put a wireless microphone on my subjects.

I used a suction cup clamp for driving, a small tripod, an L.E.D. light, etc.

MM: Do you think this is the future of TV? A reporter and an iPhone?

MC: Is it the future of TV? Well something else may come along by then, but there are so many MMJ’s these days, that it certainly is a possibility. I really like the fact that our parent company Gannett is open to innovation, and I’m thankful I have bosses like Mike Devlin and Carolyn Mungo who give me the opportunities.


After I wrote the original post, Lionel “Chris” Pinon who is a City of Houston Department of Public Works and Engineering webmaster (and former Photojournalist at Univision 45 KXLN) sent me an iPhone produced video he shot for work.

If you are interested in giving the iPhone a try as a video production tool, check out How to Create Social Videos With Your Smartphone.

Got any other tips? Email me or comment below.

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