Hollywood Museum Hollywood Blvd. Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Universal Studios, Hollywood Universal Studios, Hollywood Hollywood Legion Theater Academy Museum, David Geffen Theater Hollywood Museum Hollywood Museum Hollywood Museum Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Hollywood Museum Hollywood Museum Hollywood Museum Hollywood Museum Hollywood Museum Universal Studios, Hollywood Universal Studios, Hollywood Universal Studios, Hollywood Universal Studios, Hollywood Hollywood Blvd.
All photos taken with the iPhone 14 Pro Max

Mattopia Jones and the Horrors of Halloween
29-31 October 2022
Miles Walked: 25.9

Story and PhotosVideos

Logline: Mattopia Jones answers the call and returns to Hollywood to stare down psychopaths, zombies, scarecrows, killer klowns from outer space, death eaters and Norman’s mom while on a quest for the ultimate horror shot. (And he meets Joe Dante.)

"This trip was an experiment. It was the first time I shot a trip exclusively on my phone. I appreciate what Apple’s been doing with digital image processing and I now see the iPhone as a vital part of my camera kit. The results are spectacular, both in photos and videos."
Mattopia Jones
(comment made to the Times while tipping a pint of Guinness at Universal CityWalk’s NBC Sports Grill & Brew)

Mattskrit Notes

This is a true story.

It’s about immersion.

Things got really scary really fast during Mattopia Jones’ most recent trip to Universal Studios in Hollywood. And we’re not talking about the vertigo caused by the sky-high ticket prices.


  • Hollywood Museum
  • Academy Museum
  • Thirst with director Park Chan-wook in-person Q&A at the Academy Museum’s David Geffen Theater
  • Universal Studios Hollywood Day 1: morning tram tour
  • Gremlins with director Joe Dante in-person Q&A at the Hollywood Legion Theater
  • Universal Halloween Horror Nights
  • Universal Studios Hollywood Day 2

Horror Story

Haunted houses are one of the first fully immersive experiences. The paranormal variety dates back through the ages. The modern Halloween variety comes in all shapes, sizes and themes.

"When I was 8 years old, I begged my parents to take me to a haunted house. There was one in a shopping mall, about as safe an environment as it gets. There were no crowds; we were in there basically all by ourselves. And it was dark — really, really dark,” Dr. Jones recalled.

“I didn’t make it through the first room. But now the tables have turned. I think the creepy clowns, madmen and monsters are more afraid of me than I am of them," the good doctor asserted with a fair amount of credibility.

What changed? Besides Mattopia Jones packing on 150+ pounds and several years of world-traveling experience?

The current experience at Universal Studios during Halloween Horror Nights is something altogether different. It’s on a massive scale, with zombies and other horror characters creating mayhem throughout the amusement park. But the haunted houses are a cattle call, an endless stream of people walking through the maze. The frights are relegated to a hit-and-miss experience based on one’s direct exposure. More often than not, the scares impact the people right ahead, spoiling the surprise for those behind.

Real immersion requires a certain amount of exclusivity, or at least a focus on the experience of each individual.


As this experiment in truly “live action” photography and videography unfolded, the art of capturing the experiences became an entertainment in itself. Think about it. There is no way to choregraph (goreograph?) any of this. The cast is doing what it’s going to do unbeknownst to the punk behind the phone camera and without any callibration with his specific location amid the action. Matty attests he was as giddy as a school boy each time it all came together.

Norman Bates wields a knife and prepares to pounce

Norman invites you to check out the video collection.

Technical Specs

  • iPhone 14 Pro Max (256 GB storage)
  • Shure MV88+ digital stereo condenser microphone
  • Dolby On app
  • ProRes videos
  • 48 MP Raw photos
  • iPad Pro (2021)
  • MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)
  • Adobe Photoshop 2023
  • Adobe Premiere Pro 2023

Technical Limits

  • ProRes video files are extremely large, roughly 6 GB per minute
  • Given the large files, it’s almost futile to rely on iCloud photo backups for storage
  • It takes roughly 2 minutes per gigabyte to transfer a ProRes video from the phone to an SD card connected via the lightning port
  • Transfering via AirDrop to the iPad Pro 2021 was a little faster, roughly 1.5 minutes per gigabyte; deleting the file off the phone then frees up space for more production (however, there were instances of transfers failing on larger files)
  • 48MP photos are very large; depending on the lighting and setting, upward of 100 MB per photo
  • Files fill up the phone’s space quickly
  • Troublesome: ProRes videos take up only a certain amount of space, not all available space
  • Audio syncing issues on some videos
  • Some videos failed to save properly; image froze midway through playback

Stay tuned, True Believers, and keep hitting that refresh button for the latest updates. (Refreshing helps. Really.)

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