Cinematic videography of the iPhone 14 Pro shows what can be done
Director Joey Helms has produced a stunning piece of cinematography iPhone 14 Pro videography, along with a video tutorial on how you can do the same.
Although Helms uses two extras, this is not your usual “technically shot on an iPhone, but using a full film crew and tens of thousands of dollars worth of lighting and cinema kit”…
Instead, as he reveals in a highly sought-after video tutorial, he mostly just used a gimbal and a cheap variable neutral density filter.
Of course, Helms is an incredibly skilled cinematographer and editor, and he admits that while the shoot may have been low on extra gear, it was well on time. He said his final cut usually uses 1% to 5% of the material he shot, and I’m sure he spends a lot of time editing it too – but it goes to show what can be done with enough talent and dedication.
The video is a tour of Chicago lasting 2 m 15 s.
At first he spoke little about it.
Shot in Chicago on the new iPhone 14 pro in ProRes and Cinematic mode. Edited in Final Cut Pro X and graded with Dehancer Pro.
But he asked viewers if they wanted a video tutorial showing how it was filmed and edited, and it got a resounding yes. That video is 15m 30s.
First, he says it’s essential to lock both focus and exposure so that neither changes during the shot. This is one of the greatest gifts that someone just takes car phone shots. He also recommends underexposing by two-thirds of a stop or a full stop, as the sensor tends to overexpose.
If you want to control the shutter speed as well (and you should), then you’ll need to use a third-party camera app to do so. Helms uses Filmic Pro and shoots at 24fps. This is a cinematic standard as it creates movement that looks very natural.
You’ll usually want to use what’s known as the 180-degree shutter angle rule, which is just a technical way of saying that at 24fps you want a shutter speed of 1/48 of a second – with 1/50 of a second being close enough.
It will usually be too bright to shoot at this speed in daylight, so you will also need a variable ND filter to reduce the light as needed. If you already have an ND filter for a dedicated camera, there are various ways to attach it to the iPhone; if you don’t, the simplest option is an inexpensive clip-on unit. This is the one Helms uses.
He uses DJI Osmo Mobile 6 gimbalnext to the bigger one, but the latter simply because it has one.
Helms shoots in ProRes, which he warns he’s actually creating massive files. He does this to give him maximum flexibility for color grading in editing.
He occasionally uses a few other tools, discussed in the video, but the gimbal and variable ND filter are key.
In the tutorial, Helms walks you through the types of shots he takes, including careful use of Cinematic mode. He then does the same for editing, with special attention to sound design. I know from my own much more limited experience that audio is at least as important as video, and sound design makes a huge difference. He also says he spends hours searching for the right background music.
Personally, I’m not sure if I’m more inspired or intimidated by his footage! It definitely shows the potential of the kind of cinematic iPhone 14 shots you can take, but it also sets the bar incredibly high. Let us know in the comments if it inspires or deters…
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