In hindsight, the last week of March would have been the perfect time for Marc Barros to buy a lottery ticket. But even without it, the week was a pretty fortunate one for the founder of Seattle startup Moment.
His company launched a Kickstarter campaign that reached its goal of $50,000 in 41 minutes. The startup then went on to mark its best week in sales, five times its previous record.
And Barros found out a major Hollywood movie had been shot using his startup’s mobile-phone camera lenses, which attach to smartphones to produce more detailed, higher-quality images.
The newest Steven Soderbergh movie “Unsane” was shot entirely on an iPhone 7 Plus using technology from Moment and another small Seattle company, FiLMiC, which makes an app to bring high-end video capability to smartphones. Like Barros, FiLMiC founder Niell Barham only learned after the movie was produced that his technology was used in the horror flick from the acclaimed director.
“We probably would have offered to give them some products for free or something,” Barros said, laughing.
Soderbergh’s movie, starring Claire Foy as a woman involuntarily committed to a nightmarish psychiatric facility, garnered attention for its nontraditional filming method — adding legitimacy to an industry Barros and Barham said they knew was going to boom, even when others doubted it.
“In the early days, people thought it was sort of a gimmick,” Barham said.
But as smartphones became more advanced, people began ditching separate cameras and relying on their phones. The big break, Barros said, came from the rise of YouTube stars who produce mostly on smartphones.
“Unsane” just helped to boost the visibility of what can be done with the small devices.
FiLMiC’s app lets filmmakers choose from different high-end resolutions, tweak color grade and confirm image stabilization. One of its newest features is the option to shoot remotely by putting the smartphone on a dolly or a lighting grid, allowing for shots that couldn’t be achieved if someone had to hold the phone.