An iPhone Lens that Shot a Film at Sundance



There are so many video bloggers and filmmakers that are bursting with creative ideas but feel they are limited because of budget. Look no further, now there is a lens that you can attach to your iPhone that gives you a cinematic look .


About the Lens


The lens is manufactured by Moondoglabs.  It was created to shoot with an anamorphic look.  This artistic aesthetic is characterized by horizontal flares, an added depth and dimension perspective and an oval shaped wide aspect ratio. Below are two shots taken with an iPhone 5S.  The first picture shows a shot with the iPhone alone.  The second picture shows the iPhone with the lens.  The results are stunning.








Who’s Using the Lens


In 2015, indie writer and director Sean Baker decided to shoot his film “Tangerine” on his iPhone 5S using the Moondog lens.  The film rose to stardom at the Sundance Film Festival that same year.

Here is a trailer from the movie:



What You Need to Know Before You Buy

The Moondog Labs 1.33x Anamorphic Adapter squeezes a 33% wider field of view onto the existing iPhone sensor (1920×1080 used for video).  Because of this you will need to “de-squeeze” your video, the key to this is pixel aspect ratio and display width for rendering.

Here’s How You Can Do This:

For those that aren’t very technically savvy, you can use Handbrake, a free online tool for converting video into any format.  So Handbrake will “de-squeeze” the video you shot.

Handbrake User Steps:

1) Open your video source file (iPhone source is 1920×1080); select destination folder

2) Select Anamorphic = Custom, and Modulus = 8 (arguably, should use Mod 2 as output file is not divisible by 8)

3) Set Display width = 2554 (this is 1.33×1920); PAR width = 4; PAR width = 3 (Together, these give a 1.33:1 Pixel Aspect Ratio)

4) Hit the Start button

The resulting de-squeezed video plays at 1:2.39 aspect ratio.

You Can Also Use Final Cut Pro to “De-Squeeze”

Here is a great video that tell you how to do this:



What iPhones Are Compatible

  • iPhone 7+
  • iPhone 6+
  • iPhone 6/6s
  • iPhone 5/5s

Tech Specs

  • 1.33x afocal anamorphic adapter
  • Expands camera horizontal field of view (FOV) by 33%; vertical FOV is unchanged
  • Increases video aspect ratio from 16:9 to 2.4:1 (with software de-squeeze)
  • Increases still image aspect ratio from 4:3 to 16:9 (with software de-squeeze)
  • Compatible with iPhone 5/5S
  • Precision all-glass optical design
  • Single layer anti-reflection coatings
  • Precision CNC-machined aluminum housing
  • Secure clamping attachment mechanism, compatible with screen protectors
  • Mass: 49.4 grams (1.74 oz)
  • Overall dimensions: 32 x 26 x 38.5 mm (21.32 max. extension from iPhone)
  • Compatible with Glif™ tripod mount

Where to buy:


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Online Ad Spending Surpasses TV’s, and Entrepreneurs are Benefiting

In 2016, digital ad spending surpassed TV.


This information is GOLD for business owners. Here’s why:

The biggest and baddest companies across all industries are now relying on the internet to showcase their commercials. For decades advertisers have relied on television to get their big ads seen. Small businesses and start-ups never had the money to buy TV time slots. Now viewership has shifted online. Startups can look at this phenomenon as the playing field has been slightly evened out. Now anyone can advertise on the same platform, no matter how big their wallet is.

You might say, well, I can advertise online, but it doesn’t mean my videos will generate the same size audience the bigger companies in my industry will get. Well, lucky for you, you can do something about that. Instagram and Facebook have free analytic tracking tools that help you hit your target demographics so on point, that the big companies are even using them.

Here are 3 free analytic tools to use with your Facebook:

  1. Facebook Insights – Gives a detailed analysis of your posts and their engagement.
  2. LikeAlyzer – This one is sneaky, it gives you a look at ANY ONE’S Facebook page’s performance results. Helpful for those that want to keep an eye on their competitors 😉
  3. Simply Measured – Offers a wide variety of tracking and insight into your page, and compares your performance to other Facebook pages.

The shift from TV to online is simply a trend. The market is always shifting, so make sure you capitalize on this for your business while the opportunity is still available to you! Start making creative engaging videos, target your core customer with analytic tools and enjoy the ride!

Pay it forward: Do a friend a solid and share this with someone who has an awesome idea and needs a little push to get their work out there.

A Royal Piranha Profile: Jess Dowse, Travel Filmmaker


Jess Dowse

Is a traveling filmmaker who documents her journeys by creating beautiful videos.
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Sri Lanka

Her most recent work really caught our eye.  It’s a video she made while traveling to Sri Lanka that truly captures the spirit of the island.  We love her use of sound in the video.  It grabs you, pulls you in, and adds a level of intensity that wouldn’t be there if she had just layed down some simple background music.  Check it out…

The Daily Lunge

Jess is also the founder of The Daily Lunge, an enterprise she created that offers a blog and vlog featuring her own work.  She also frequently posts insightful tips for her fellow filmmakers.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 13.23.35

The Interview

She has an intriguing style that we think can be very inspiration to other vloggers and filmmakers, so we picked her brain about her entire creative process.  Here’s what she told us!

RP: How would you describe your style of video creating?


Flying by the seat of my pants?!… A lot of what I do is really run and gun so I have to make sure I’m always ready to shoot and follow a potential story or situation. Something amazing could happen at any second so I try to be aware of that whilst keeping track of an ever evolving narrative in my head.  I am editing in my mind as I shoot so I always have an idea of the kind of things I need and how I might cover them.  My style has really evolved from being very British and not wanting to get in anyone’s way or piss anyone off.  It’s well documented that you have to get up close and personal to your subjects to get great shots… and I really struggle with that. Especially when you’re making travel films, the implication is that you should stick your camera in everyone’s face and get your shot but I can’t bring myself to do that without some sort of communication and connection first.  So I find I have kind of developed a bit of a ninja style of shooting where I try to fade into the background and observe- you’ll mainly find me hiding behind trees or shooting through a hedge or something.  It does mean my films are a bit less polished and commercial than the braver folks out there… but now it’s sort of become my thing and I’m fine with that!

RP: Why do you think video is such a powerful tool right now?


For two reasons- one cynical and one reassuring.  One: time and money.  Generally, we have less time and we are less willing to give that time to something that doesn’t wow us, or shock us or teach us some profound truth…. just look at what’s on TV or what goes viral.  Video packs a punch that words take longer to deliver.  The public demand more and more in terms of what entertains them and video is the most efficient way of satisfying that at the moment.  Until virtual reality kicks in and then, I might be out of a job.
Two: Slightly more reassuring, community.  More and more people are creating video.  The world is getting smaller and people’s voices are getting louder- they want to tell their stories.  And pictures are the only way to communicate across language and culture barriers.  When you can hear what someone’s voice sounds like from half way around the world, and you see their street and hear them interacting with their friends and living their life you learn in a much more visceral way and you understand on a deeper level.
I love writing, but in this time starved moment, video is going to tell your story in a much more powerful way

RP: Do you do all your own shooting and editing and what equipment and applications do you use?


Yes, I am a one stop shop for everything film!
I shoot on a Sony A7Sii and I just got an A6500 so I’m hyped to get trying that out! Lens wise, if it’s not commercial work then I shoot on vintage primes because I want everything to look a little dirtier… nice lenses are just so clean looking.  But that’s usually what clients like, so they get the canon L series lenses!  I just got a Zhiyun Crane gimbal and it’s a massive help.  I’m not sure how I coped without it.
Then I edit on FCPX.  I adore this program.  It gets a lot of stick but for me it’s fast, it’s easy and it’s never held me back.  I honestly think your equipment shouldn’t stand in the way of what you make though… I made a whole 7 series of a TV show on a rubbish Nikon and a 50mm lens.  Sometimes having less makes you more creative. 

RP: How did you conceptualize your videos?


Honestly, I find it hard to conceptualize a travel film before I am out there experiencing it.  It sort of just evolves from what I see.  To a certain extent, I make it up as I go along but try and pick out patterns in what I’m seeing and shooting and I find that once I start looking I see them everywhere and it becomes easier to develop a story.  When we were on the train I shot loads and obviously it tracks a journey… perhaps it’s a bit of an obvious motif but it makes sense to have that as the vein of the film… it also seems a little dreamlike because the girl is observing this different world pass by her window.  Having some sort of structure like this in mind is super helpful!

I also think dreaming up ideal scenes is a great way to know what you’re looking for and when you’ve found it.  You need things to happen…. you need to see action.  It sounds simple but finding things happening beyond what you can construct with the people you are with, is very difficult.  Places aren’t filled with crazy goings on- most people are just walking about, eating, being normal… you need to hunt out the fun stuff, the bigger action.  I don’t always find it…. and then it’s a case of knowing this and editing the film with this in mind.

RP: What’s the hardest part about traveling with gear, do you have any tips?


Oh- it’s just so annoying!  I am always carrying cameras… I wear them like necklaces!  When it comes to traveling seriously I have to make it as easy as possible for me to take my stuff out because if I don’t I will regret it.  So I spent good money on a sexy Venque backpack that doesn’t look like a camera bag and I don’t feel like a dork wearing it.  I choose tiny cameras… I should probably buy a big serious camera but I know I wouldn’t use it much.  I take three vintage primes that are tiny and light.  I have my gimbal… which is the heaviest most annoying bit of kit… so I put it together and balance it and put in a side pouch so it’s easy to grab.  Ease is the key and less is more.  Sometimes I just go out with my camera in my hand and a battery in my pocket…anything to keep me shooting.  Having a lovely person around who doesn’t mind carrying your bag every once in a while is nice too! 

RP: Where did you learn your craft from?


A mixture really.  I wanted to be a video journalist so I did an MA in journalism at Falmouth Uni and that taught me the basics of everything.  We had to make weekly news reports with interviews and slick B-roll… the works.  They grilled us every week and we got critiqued by BBC cameramen and pro radio producers so that really kicked me into shape.  After that, I went to China to make a TV show for a year and there were no rules!  That meant I could experiment a lot and make mistakes without anyone caring all that much.  We had very little help making those shows, so again I had to do everything and I have kept that mentality ever since.  I don’t think that’s necessarily the best way to work, teams are great, but it’s important to understand what everyone needs and how they work.  After China, I worked in proper TV so the rules came in and again kicked me into shape and pushed me to think more about what I was making and how and why.  Now I feel like I am learning more than ever.  I will never be done… this job isn’t ever going to be something I can finish or complete.  Technology just develops so fast and you have to keep up to date to even stand still! 

RP: What or who are your biggest muses?


This is a really tough one… I think it probably changes weekly!  I’m massively into photography and I guess I draw a lot of ideas from that.  I try to get to a gallery once a month and that usually refreshes my creative juices.  It’s a bit weird, but I find a lot of ideas for me come from reading.  I like reading about art and design and architecture and the way they speak about their processes help me think about mine in a different light and it gives me new perspectives. 

RP: What is the hardest part about creating videos for you?


I hate to say this because it’s a such a cliche… but I am my biggest obstacle.  It takes a lot to get over yourself enough to even try to compete in such a saturated market.  To think your stuff is even good enough to show your mum, never mind the whole world!  When I share something it’s like the business woman in me takes over and says ‘I don’t care that it’s not perfect, today is the deadline and it’s going online!’… and creative me just sits there terrified of what people will think and how well it will do.  I work so hard on my films and sometimes I love them, but only for a week or so, then I start to see all the flaws and how I could’ve done better, should have pushed harder, should have got this shot or that shot.  I dream of a film going viral or getting a Vimeo staff pick but I know after 3 days of it happening I’d think the film was rubbish and I could do better!  But not in a downer way… it keeps me getting better.  But to go through this process every time of making something is for sure the hardest part!

RP: What is your favorite outside piece of work?


This is a tough one…. I have to say though when I first saw Watchtower Of Turkey by Leonardo Dalessandri ( I cried! For ages, I had been trying to find something different and unique and until then I hadn’t found it.  When I saw this film I was floored.  I watched it back to back about 10 times and I still watch it now every so often…I mean, just thinking about it gives me tingles! Of course, now that style is very popular and we’ve all kind of killed it!  Now, I’m on the hunt for something different again.

RP: How do the locations you travel to affect your vision for your videos?  Do you have any examples?


For me this is fundamental.  If any element of the film doesn’t fit with the place you’re trying to capture something is going to feel wrong.  The music has to be right, the colour has to be right, the way you cut, the pace, the energy… it all should be dictated by the place and your experience of it.  I see too many travel films at the moment cut to dance music with big drops and so much energy and their shots are whipping and zipping all over the place… but the content is just still buildings or really mellow beach shots, or people walking… that needs different music.  Nailing music is the key for me.  I work with an amazing composing duo ( that really get the way I shoot and manage to perfectly capture the tone of the places…. they make my films.  I’m not saying you can’t go against the grain of the place and make something amazing though- Tarantino can do it, so you definitely can!- but it has to be a very decisive choice that you shoot for and manage to pull off… otherwise, the film won’t work.

Jess has a diverse client base she works with via The Daily Lunge.  She is involved in all aspects of productions, from developing the idea all the way though the post production process.  She is increasingly working with clients to help strategize their own social media campaigns to get their digital content seen.  You can get a hold of Jess on her contact page.

If you want to be featured on a Royal Piranha Profile, tag us in your work and use the hashtag #royalpiranhaprofile

Edit Quality Videos on your Phone with the Spark Camera App


Our smart phones are getting even smarter, allowing us to create quality videos anywhere, with faster speeds and without the hassle of having to carry a ton of camera equipment.

Whether you want to jazz up your home videos, send a fun message to your social media followers or quickly block a complicated scene, there’s never been a better time to get your ideas out into the world than right now.

So now that you have the ability to shoot great content, you need to know how to make your footage really come to life “in the edit.”  And you can do all of this with your phone, with the Spark Camera app.

Spark Camera

Spark is an extremely user friendly and quick to learn app.  You can shoot video, edit your video, add music to your video and export it all in one convenient place: right in the palm of your hand.

How to Get Started

First things first, go to the App Store, type in SPARK CAMERA and click the download button (it’s only 99¢ and worth every penny).

Once you are in the app, it will ask you to create a new ‘spark’ (a video).  Click yes and you’re off!

There are two ways you can use the app:

1) Record a new video from scratch
2) Choose an already shot video from your phones photo library

To record a new video from scratch:  Point your camera at your subject, hold your finger down anywhere on the screen and that’s it.  Once you release your finger, the video stops recording.

You also have the choice of four different frame rates in which to record:

30 fps (frames per second)
60 fps
120 fps
240 fps

The higher the frame rate, the slower your video will be when you play back.  So if you want your video to feature slow motion, you can choose either 120fps or 240fps (depending on how slow you want it.)


  • For cleaner, crisper videos (outside of the Spark App) you should set your phones to shoot in 60 fps. Go to your phone settings > Phone & Camera > and click the RECORD AT 60 FPS button to ON

To create a video from an existing video in your photo library: Go to the main screen in SPARK and click the “+” button.  You’ll quickly be navigated to your Camera Roll folder in your photo library. (See below)


There you choose which video(s) you want and can even trim the selected video to the length you want it (ie, cut the unnecessary fat).

Now that you have your clips selected, the real work can begin.



To start, click on whichever clip (the different colored circles on the bottom of the screen) you want to edit first.  The video will take up your screen and you can trim your clip to your desired length by dragging the small cursor circle back and forth the outer circle.

You can also add a transition between your clips by clicking the semi-circle to either side of your selected clip.

If you want to move your clips around the “timeline” in the order you want, simply press and hold the clip and move it were you would like to.

Adding Music

You can also add music from your phones library by clicking the “musical note” in the top left corner of the screen and adjust the levels to how you see fit.


Once you’re done with your video and everything is exactly how you want it, you can export your video!  Click the right hand corner of your screen to go to the export menu where you can save a copy of your spark as a complete video to your photo library, share it on Instagram (and tagging SPARK while you’re at it), sending your video as a postcard or sending in a text or email.

Video Examples

Here’s a video from our web series, “Judged By Paxton” which was shot on an iPhone and edited with Spark a few years ago:


And here’s an example of turning a few home movies into one fun, energetic clip: “Quad”


Upload your Spark App videos to Instagram and tag us @royalpiranha –  We want to see what you’re creating!



“How To Shoot Stylish Videos with Your Phone”

How to Produce a Kickstarter Campaign Video that Sells


Kickstarter is a great way to give legs to a  business idea that you’ve been sitting on due to lack of money.  It allows you to create campaigns to raise funding for your projects.  Anyone who has had a successful campaign will tell you a good Kickstarter video is KEY. Kickstarter themselves even state that projects with a video have had a 50% success rate, compared to a 30% success rate to those that didn’t include one.

How to Make a Killer Kickstarter Video



  • (1) Introduction of yourself
  • (2) Tell you audience about your project
  • (3) Explain why you are launching this campaign and why people should care
  • (4) List rewards you are offering to backers of your project


  • It’s usually better to “show” instead of “tell” when you are creating a video. For instance, instead of listing off a bunch stats, it’s better to include a graphic with the information. Create a script or breakdown of what you want to say in the video. Then go back line for line and ask yourself, ‘How can I depict this visually instead of saying these words?” This will not only create a more engaging video, but will shorten the duration of it as well.
  • You want a lot of different shots that you can cut to within your video.  The more footage you shoot, the better.  Having a lot of cuts will keep the audience engaged. There’s nothing worse than watching someone talk straight to the camera longer than a few seconds.
  • Keep all your pictures, graphics and music copyright free. (This one is a Kickstarter rule) There are plenty of free content out there on the web. Just Google 🙂
  • The best videos will be no longer than 3 minutes. I promise you, you can tell your whole story in 3 minutes. If you can’t, hire someone to help you edit you ideas down.
  • Pick music that reflects the lifestyle of your project. When editing the music into your video, raise the audio levels when you are just looking at footage and fade the levels down when someone is speaking.
  • Seal the deal with a “call to action.” Here you are calling people to take action and fund your project. Connect that with a reason why they would want to fund you, what’s in it for them? You can connect your call to action with your rewards or incentives you are offering backers.

Here’s a Kickstarter video we created:

Drop us a line and get jump started on your Kickstarter video today!


A Royal Piranha Profile: John Wyatt Haskell , NYC Comedy Writer

“So even if I was getting stuff on TV which was seen by millions, it wasn’t 100% “my own” creation or voice.  So, that’s probably why I continued to make things online.” 



John Wyatt Haskell

Is a New York City comedy writer who formally wrote sketches for the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  Currently he is in Los Angeles, where he is writing for the new  Sarah Silverman show on Hulu.

Anyone who knows Haskell will tell you he’s one of the most endearing people they know.  They fall in love with his refreshingly impulsive and honest sense of humor.  He has a contagious laugh and a childlike goofiness that just makes you giddy when you’re around him.

Besides the fact he’s just plain FUN to talk to, we wanted to chat with him to find out  what drives him to continue to create digital content for himself even when he’s busy working on some high profile shows.





RP: How would you describe the digital content you create for yourself?


I’d say the content I create is usually very impulsive, or done in a stream-of-consciousness style.  I’ll typically have an idea then act on it right away – maybe it’s a small photoshop, or a little video.  This process has its pluses and minuses.  On the plus side, I make a lot of stuff.  On the minus side, sometimes it’s not as good as it could be.  Oh well, hehe.

RP: As a writer for a nationally televised show, you were getting your work out there on a daily basis, why do you feel the need to create online content for yourself?


This is an interesting question.  I guess it’s because if you’re a “creative” person – whether it’s comedy, music, art, etc. – you probably have some drive in you to make things that are your own.  So even if I was getting stuff on TV which was seen by millions, it wasn’t 100% “my own” creation or voice.  So, that’s probably why I continued to make things online.

RP: What do you think the hardest part about creating digital content is?


That’s another interesting question.  I mean, I think online content is easy to create, because you don’t need to book a show or schedule anything to do it.  You can just make something and post it.  But I guess one tricky thing is that there’s so much online content out there now, sometimes it might seem like you’re just throwing something out into a void.

RP: How have your own personal projects helped you in the actual workforce?


Sometimes my own personal projects led to ideas that could be used on the Tonight Show.  For instance, I used to enjoy photoshopping people’s faces so they looked really bizarre, and I would call this “Bonking” them.  Then that became a segment on the show, and also an app.

RP: Have you received any negative feedback from your personal creative content? How did you handle this?


I guess I haven’t received a *ton*, but that’s just because I don’t think my content is viewed by enough people to take a strong stance on it.  And personally, I’m fine with that.  People online can be pretty brutal.

RP: What are your favorite apps or programs to work with?


I like video editing.  I still use Final Cut 7 but will switch to Adobe Premiere once I have to.  I like making music on Logic.  I’d like to learn After Effects more – you can do a lot of fun stuff with that.  Oh, I also like Instagram because it’s fun to post dumb pictures.

RP: Do you have a regular website or media outlet you read that inspires you?


Not one that I can think of specifically.  I often fall into the trap of clicking between tabs like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.  That sucks and is the opposite of inspiring.

RP: How do you get ideas for your project? 


I sometimes get ideas from things that aren’t necessarily comedic.  For example, maybe it’s a drama that’s shot really well or has a cool song that makes you feel an emotion.  I like to get inspired from things like that.

RP: What project are you most proud of?


Probably Real Big Boys, which I did with Dan Opsal.  We just made one web short a few years ago for fun, then decided to continue making them as a little side project. Making fun stuff with a friend? Now THAT’S what I’m talking about, baby!

“Real Big Boys Creators” and writing partners, John Haskell and Dan Opsol, featured with 7  Blue-bellied Ingrim birds that Haskell rescued from his hometown.  (JK about the birds :D)


Check out Real Big Boys here!


If you want to be featured on a Royal Piranha Profile, tag us in your work and use the hashtag #royalpiranhaprofile




The Cameras Behind YouTube’s Top Vloggers

YouTube has proven to be the largest platform for bloggers to make careers out of posting videos, otherwise known as ‘vloggers.’ It has even launched some into stardom.

Yes, creative content and an engaging personality will take you a long way in this game, but in order to get your content seen, you need equipment.

There are thousands of articles online reviewing camera equipment and unless you have some sort of background in videography, all the jargon and stats can be overwhelming. Sometimes it’s just easier to look at someone who is doing well in the field you’re in, and emulate them. So we’ve got you covered…

Here’s a quick, no-brainer look at some of YouTube’s top performers and what they use to shoot their content.




Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920

Canon XA30

Pro Webcam C920

Canon EOS 70D

Canon PowerShot S120

Canon 5D Mark III

Panasonic Lumix GH4

Have you used any of these cameras? Let us know on Facebook! Tag us (@royalpiranha) on any work you’ve shot while shooting with these cameras, we would love to feature you.