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With the launch of the iPhone 13 series, Apple introduced several new camera features that take advantage of the A15 Bionic processor and advanced machine learning. One of these is called Cinematic Mode. This article explains what Cinematic Mode is and how to use it.

iphone-12-pro-cinematic-mode.jpg

What is Cinematic Mode?

Cinematic Mode utilizes Dolby Vision HDR and a technique called "rack focus" to seamlessly shift the focus from one subject to another when you're shooting video. It does this by locking the focus on the subject in a scene and blurring the background to achieve depth of field. If you subsequently move the camera to center on a new subject or a new subject enters the scene, Cinematic mode automatically switches the focal point to this new subject and blurs out the background.

For example, if you're shooting video of someone and then a second person enters the scene, your iPhone will intelligently adjust the surrounding blur to focus-lock on the second person. It will even automatically switch back to the initial subject if the person's face looks away from the camera, effectively generating a sophisticated professional filmmaking effect on the fly.

While impressive, Cinematic Mode isn't perfect, however Apple has also made the effect fully adjustable, thanks to a post-shoot editing mode that lets you alter focal points after you've captured video. Keep reading to learn how to use Cinematic Mode on iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max.

How to Use Cinematic Mode When Shooting Video

  1. Launch the Camera app on your iPhone and swipe the camera mode menu so that "Cinematic" is highlighted.
    cinematic-mode3.jpg

    Line up the viewfinder so that your initial subject is in shot and the focal target of the lens, then tap the Shutter button to begin recording video.
    cinematic-mode1.jpg

    Allow another person or object at a different distance away from the camera lens to enter the shot – your iPhone will automatically refocus when it locks onto the new subject. Tap the Shutter button again when you're done capturing video.
    cinematic-mode2-e1632494237721.jpg
That's all there is to it. You can also manually select the subjects that you want to be in focus, retroactively, after you've shot your video. Here's how.

How to Adjust Cinematic Mode Focus Post-Shoot

  1. Launch the Photos app on your iPhone and select some video shot in Cinematic mode.
  2. Tap Edit in the top-right corner of the screen.
  3. Slide your finger along the clip reel at the bottom of the screen to find the part of the clip that you want to edit.
    edit-cinematic-mode-video2.jpg

    Tap a different area of the shot to switch the focal point to a new subject. Note that the icon in the top-left corner of the screen is now highlighted to indicate Manual Tracking is on.
    The dotted yellow line below the clip reel indicates the amount of time in the clip that the currently selected subject is tracked. If you tap the circled dot in the line, a trash icon will appear – tap this and the tracking for this subject will be removed.
    edit-cinematic-mode-video1.jpg

    Tap Done once you're happy with your changes.
If you've picked up an iPhone 13 or are thinking of getting one, be sure to check out the Photography Styles feature that the iPhone 13 series brings to the Camera app.

Article Link: iPhone 13: How to Shoot Video in Cinematic Mode
 

transpo1

macrumors 6502
Jul 15, 2010
440
631
As a filmmaker, I can say that this is an incredible feature. However, I’m mystified why Apple only made it available in 1080 30p (apparently). For filmmakers like myself, 24p is the standard frame rate.

As for the phone, though I am drooling over this feature, I’m planning on waiting to upgrade from my 12 Pro Max until next year when I hope this feature will be available in 4K as well.
 

filmantopia

macrumors 6502a
Feb 5, 2010
755
1,983
As a filmmaker, I can say that this is an incredible feature. However, I’m mystified why Apple only made it available in 1080 30p (apparently). For filmmakers like myself, 24p is the standard frame rate.

As for the phone, though I am drooling over this feature, I’m planning on waiting to upgrade from my 12 Pro Max until next year when I hope this feature will be available in 4K as well.
I’m sure over time (on future hardware) it’ll be available with more settings, including 4K and additional framerates. But this is an exciting glimpse into the future of iPhone videography/filmmaking.
 

DFZD

macrumors 6502
Apr 6, 2012
299
152
It is a brilliant feature and definitely a step in the right direction, but in the real world more people are going to be excited about the Video Portrait mode.
 

velocityg4

macrumors 603
Dec 19, 2004
6,423
3,396
Georgia
As a filmmaker, I can say that this is an incredible feature. However, I’m mystified why Apple only made it available in 1080 30p (apparently). For filmmakers like myself, 24p is the standard frame rate.

As for the phone, though I am drooling over this feature, I’m planning on waiting to upgrade from my 12 Pro Max until next year when I hope this feature will be available in 4K as well.
Yea, 30p is gonna make for horrible boot leg copies of movies in the cinema.

😅 /jk
 
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ChromeAce

macrumors demi-god
Jun 11, 2009
333
450
Let’s clear a couple of things up here. The camera is not “focusing” on a subject. The entire frame remains in focus and blurring is being selectively done in real-time, using digital processing. That’s how it can be done after shooting as well. Has zero to do with depth of field or focus. And that’s why it only works at 1080p… the processor can only handle so many pixels at once.

Second, this has nothing to do with “machine learning.” The software is doing what it is programmed to do, not improving anything on its own based on user data.
 
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MrkJensen

macrumors member
Sep 29, 2009
63
32
Never understood the purpose/hype, at best a phone could be used as a home video camera. I guess Hollywood now will change all their camerars to iPhones. For the camera it works for a quick and good snapshot, as it's obvious not even close to be comparable with my DSLR's.
 

tk421

macrumors 6502a
Dec 7, 2005
655
2
Los Angeles
My initial enthusiasm has been dampened quite a bit as I see real-world use of this feature. These example images actually show the flaws really well.

Because the camera is not actually "focusing" and a blur is being applied artificially, the camera struggles with edges and very thin objects. Look at the wire fence: it's getting blurred the same as whatever is behind it. So you end up with the wooden post in sharp focus, but not all the barbed-wire which is at the very same distance. Or you might have the sheep in sharp focus, but also some of the wire - the topmost portion that lines up with the most distant background.

It doesn't look good at all in these examples. It looks weird.
 
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MacFan782040

macrumors 6502a
Dec 1, 2003
871
272
My initial enthusiasm has been dampened quite a bit as I see real-world use of this feature. These example images actually show the flaws really well.

Because the camera is not actually "focusing" and a blur is being applied artificially, the camera struggles with edges and very thin objects. Look at the wire fence: it's getting blurred the same as whatever is behind it. So you end up with the wooden post in sharp focus, but not all the barbed-wire which is at the very same distance. Or you might have the sheep in sharp focus, but also some of the wire - the topmost portion that lines up with the most distant background.

It doesn't look good at all in these examples. It looks weird.
Agreed. Plus it only works in 1080. Cool for a social media post but it won't replace a true camera and lens anytime soon.
 

Ghost31

macrumors 68030
Jun 9, 2015
2,919
4,140
As a filmmaker, I can say that this is an incredible feature. However, I’m mystified why Apple only made it available in 1080 30p (apparently). For filmmakers like myself, 24p is the standard frame rate.

As for the phone, though I am drooling over this feature, I’m planning on waiting to upgrade from my 12 Pro Max until next year when I hope this feature will be available in 4K as well.
As someone they oddly still thinks 1080p is good enough for his uses, it’s good enough for me. I’ve shot video in 1080 and 4k and even on a big tv I could barely tell the difference and it sure as hell wasn’t worth the space taken up. That’s just me though
 

citysnaps

macrumors G3
Oct 10, 2011
8,150
14,221
San Francisco
Never understood the purpose/hype, at best a phone could be used as a home video camera. I guess Hollywood now will change all their camerars to iPhones. For the camera it works for a quick and good snapshot, as it's obvious not even close to be comparable with my DSLR's.

"I guess Hollywood now will change all their camerars to iPhones."

Why would you say that?


"For the camera it works for a quick and good snapshot, as it's obvious not even close to be comparable with my DSLR's."

I've found that the strength of a photograph has little to do with gear. Rather, it's about the photographer, his/her life experiences, imagination, creativity, ability to see, understanding light, being able to compose while determining what elements should be included/excluded in the frame, understanding how withholding information can create mystery, etc, etc all coming together to stir a viewer's imagination and ideally creating a supporting narrative.

I have various dSLRs, mirrorless, and Arca-Swiss 4x5 cameras. For the last ten years I've also used various iPhones, the last five years exclusively.
 

Piggie

macrumors G3
Feb 23, 2010
8,738
3,304
I'd like to thank the two posters above who confirmand what I suspected was actually happening.
And it did seem odd that you could "Change Focus" later on.
So Apple (I don't want to say lied about this feature)
So let's just say they "misrepresented" what was actually happening.

The camera's are NOT actually changing focus as was said, as Apple said and many are thinking.
What is happening is the whole scene is in focus, and it's just software that's putting a blur filter onto the entire scene, apart from a specific area of interest.
And hence how it's possible to change this later on, as it can simply blur and leave sharp other areas instead.

So it's faking the effect of the cameras actually changing focus.
Not sure I'm 100% happy with how Apple sold this effect, as I'm pretty sure they did misrepresent how this worked if we are being totally honest.
 
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citysnaps

macrumors G3
Oct 10, 2011
8,150
14,221
San Francisco
I think people will react to this in a couple of ways.

There will be those whose relationship with camera gear is mostly about specs and wanting the very best. It's all about the chase. And often being disappointed. I've noticed people who are driven by gear specs often don't have much interesting work to show.

There will also be people who see the bigger picture and the potential of iPhone camera features and immediately start noodling how they can be used, kicking around ideas for making interesting photos and videos and perhaps ultimately a body of interesting work or even a project. I saw some of that potential in the other recent thread about the new iPhone macro feature.
 
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transpo1

macrumors 6502
Jul 15, 2010
440
631
As someone they oddly still thinks 1080p is good enough for his uses, it’s good enough for me. I’ve shot video in 1080 and 4k and even on a big tv I could barely tell the difference and it sure as hell wasn’t worth the space taken up. That’s just me though
1080p HD is fine as long as you’re finishing in 1080 or are simply using it for social posts, etc.

However, 4K is the standard now for most professional video or filmmaking. 30p is also a weird frame rate for them to use. If they’re going for cinematic, they should have chosen 24p. My guess is that the effect needs more light to work and the slightly greater shutter of 30p gives it more light…
 

MrkJensen

macrumors member
Sep 29, 2009
63
32
"I guess Hollywood now will change all their camerars to iPhones."

Why would you say that?


"For the camera it works for a quick and good snapshot, as it's obvious not even close to be comparable with my DSLR's."

I've found that the strength of a photograph has little to do with gear. Rather, it's about the photographer, his/her life experiences, imagination, creativity, ability to see, understanding light, being able to compose while determining what elements should be included/excluded in the frame, understanding how withholding information can create mystery, etc, etc all coming together to stir a viewer's imagination and ideally creating a supporting narrative.

I have various dSLRs, mirrorless, and Arca-Swiss 4x5 cameras. For the last ten years I've also used various iPhones, the last five years exclusively.
I just don't see the point in making anything but home movies, the picture above shows show a movie clip out of a Hollywood movie, with a phone emulating cinematic frames like in Hollywood movie as far as I can see it looks like missing the cinematic part as it's a bit more than a flatten wide angle?

You don't make movies or pictures just because you have a camera, you don't become an electrician because you go buy a screwdriver and a plier -you look at Youtube as it so often bad they really hurts your eyes on how bad quality some the content are. It seems like get a phone and the google it and you have learned everything. -Where I come from photography is a 4 year education and then you are an entry level photographer some with motion other with stills. I did actually complete that education, stills, well more than 15 years ago. Like many things it's a complex skilled trade, and the first couple of millions of pictures are rubbish as you know. The phone providers present that any Billy Bob or Lucy Jane who buy a phone that s/he is now a cinematographer and photographer. Thats utterly BS and a complete illusion

You list a lot of good valid points for photography compositions and sure you got a good rig. I would add lenses as a valid component as they always ends up being the key and the cost driver whether buy or rent as working the lenses can take a bit of time. I just think the phone lenses are not good enough for the works we do in my studio as we work in 100 raw mp. We use phone and other small portable cams for the story writing and board as that is just an indication of the direction.

Anyway, I'm not to lecture I sure there are many there will find the interest with their phone and then go study and learn the craft of photography and cinematography.
 

citysnaps

macrumors G3
Oct 10, 2011
8,150
14,221
San Francisco
I just don't see the point in making anything but home movies, the picture above shows show a movie clip out of a Hollywood movie, with a phone emulating cinematic frames like in Hollywood movie as far as I can see it looks like missing the cinematic part as it's a bit more than a flatten wide angle?

You don't make movies or pictures just because you have a camera, you don't become an electrician because you go buy a screwdriver and a plier -you look at Youtube as it so often bad they really hurts your eyes on how bad quality some the content are. It seems like get a phone and the google it and you have learned everything. -Where I come from photography is a 4 year education and then you are an entry level photographer some with motion other with stills. I did actually complete that education, stills, well more than 15 years ago. Like many things it's a complex skilled trade, and the first couple of millions of pictures are rubbish as you know. The phone providers present that any Billy Bob or Lucy Jane who buy a phone that s/he is now a cinematographer and photographer. Thats utterly BS and a complete illusion

You list a lot of good valid points for photography compositions and sure you got a good rig. I would add lenses as a valid component as they always ends up being the key and the cost driver whether buy or rent as working the lenses can take a bit of time. I just think the phone lenses are not good enough for the works we do in my studio as we work in 100 raw mp. We use phone and other small portable cams for the story writing and board as that is just an indication of the direction.

Anyway, I'm not to lecture I sure there are many there will find the interest with their phone and then go study and learn the craft of photography and cinematography.

"The phone providers present that any Billy Bob or Lucy Jane who buy a phone that s/he is now a cinematographer and photographer. Thats utterly BS and a complete illusion"

I haven't seen Apple making that claim. Especially suggesting one can be a cinematographer/photographer at the professional level simply by purchasing an iPhone. What I have seen is Apple providing a tool that will inspire many people, mostly young, to pursue making photos or movies helping them to tell stories they want to tell. In the way 15 year old Steve Spielberg did when he made a 15 minute film using his neighborhood kid friends as actors and his dad's Kodak 8mm camera.

My "rig" is simply an iPhone. It does what I want it to do for the photographs I want to make (I never use the word "take"). I have other cameras and lenses if they should be needed.

I've mentioned this before. When I bump into a photographer on the street in San Francisco, I'll often ask the question, "What do you shoot?"

If the response is something like: "I have a Canon 5D MK3 with a 24-70 f/2.8 zoom and 50mm f/1.4 lenses," that tells me something. I might reply, "Oh, that's nice!"

If the response is something like: "I make photographs of people living on the street in underserved neighborhoods for a project I'm working on," that tells me something else. That's someone I would want to talk to over a beer.

Projects and stories interest me. Not gear. Though the word boring has pretty much become hackneyed over the years, talking about gear bores me no end.

Of course an iPhone is not the proper tool for a professional studio photographer. But I can see a kid who wants to get into that and learn about gesture, posing/composition and lighting starting with an iPhone, a roll of seamless paper, and inexpensive lights.
 
Last edited:

anticipate

macrumors 6502a
Dec 22, 2013
728
534
I’m a professional filmmaker and I can easily see some situations where I’d be able to use this. It’s also only 1080 but upscales to 4k quite well because of the way Apple sharpens everything.

This mode has a ton of limits. Its not usable in low light. It’s best on faces. Sometimes things like glasses, objects can mess it up. For example I never could get it to “focus” on an iPad with an Apple Pencil attached. It insisted on blurring out the pencil no matter what I did. There are absolute limits.

Plus a real camera with a much larger sensor is always going to look better. It’s not over processed and has a much smoother tonal graduation as compared with any iPhone shot. Until Apple can get those sensor sites up to say at least 3 micron, it’s still a tiny sensor. And “real” gear gets out of the way so you can tell your story effectively, without having to mess with the tech. Storytelling is what really matters.

All of that said, there are ways to hide this (like lowering contrast in post), and clever editing. If I have a choice to get a cinematic quality shot when I brought nothing out, and get something half way… I’ll always go for something. Clever use of the f stop setting (higher is better in most cases) and subject selection make this extremely useful for storytellers.

This is the first iteration, and it’ll get better. With software updates Apples stills portrait mode has made leaps over the years and this will too as they refine the model, and then even more the hardware behind it. There is no phone anywhere that comes even close to cinematic mode. It’s an actual usable format and I look forward to using it when I can.
 
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citysnaps

macrumors G3
Oct 10, 2011
8,150
14,221
San Francisco
I’m a professional filmmaker and I can easily see some situations where I’d be able to use this. It’s also only 1080 but upscales to 4k quite well because of the way Apple sharpens everything.

This mode has a ton of limits. Its not usable in low light. It’s best on faces. Sometimes things like glasses, objects can mess it up. For example I never could get it to “focus” on an iPad with an Apple Pencil attached. It insisted on blurring out the pencil no matter what I did. There are absolute limits.

Plus a real camera with a much larger sensor is always going to look better. It’s not over processed and has a much smoother tonal graduation as compared with any iPhone shot. Until Apple can get those sensor sites up to say at least 3 micron, it’s still a tiny sensor. And “real” gear gets out of the way so you can tell your story effectively, without having to mess with the tech. Storytelling is what really matters.

All of that said, there are ways to hide this (like lowering contrast in post), and clever editing. If I have a choice to get a cinematic quality shot when I brought nothing out, and get something half way… I’ll always go for something. Clever use of the f stop setting (higher is better in most cases) and subject selection make this extremely useful for storytellers.

This is the first iteration, and it’ll get better. With software updates Apples stills portrait mode has made leaps over the years and this will too as they refine the model, and then even more the hardware behind it. There is no phone anywhere that comes even close to cinematic mode. It’s an actual usable format and I look forward to using it when I can.

I enjoyed reading your post. And use of the words storytellers and storytelling. Thanx!
 
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cppguy

macrumors 6502a
Apr 6, 2009
594
900
SF Bay Area, California
1080p HD is fine as long as you’re finishing in 1080 or are simply using it for social posts, etc.

However, 4K is the standard now for most professional video or filmmaking. 30p is also a weird frame rate for them to use. If they’re going for cinematic, they should have chosen 24p. My guess is that the effect needs more light to work and the slightly greater shutter of 30p gives it more light…
It's the other way around, 30p gives it less light, and shorter shutter speed. The higher the frame rate, the less light you get.
 
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