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Apple goes Hollywood with iPhone 13’s Cinematic Mode

reporters@khaleejtimes.com Filed on September 23, 2021
Apple’s researchers spent a long time studying the history of cinema and the art of using focus to tell a story.

Cinematic Mode allows users to shoot with a shallow depth of field and automatically add focus transitions between subjects.

A good number of film directors and cinematographers are already enjoying using iPhones to shoot videos and use them in their projects, and the major upgrade on the cameras of Apple’s latest flagship product will give them one more reason to continue doing so, and even inspire others to follow suit.

Apple last week unveiled the iPhone 13 series — 13 mini, 13, 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max — and their cameras are now “dramatically more powerful” with Cinematic Mode, a new feature that targets everyone from professionals to beginners.

Cinematic Mode allows users to shoot with a shallow depth of field and automatically add focus transitions between subjects. It can also anticipate when a prominent new subject is about to enter the frame and bring them into focus. With this upgrade, the iPhone 13 is the only smartphone that lets users edit depth effects after a video is shot.

“This goes beyond anything we’ve done before,” Vitor Silva, senior product manager, iPhone, said in a virtual interview.

“But as with our other features, it’s so easy to use. We expect that every day iPhone videos will be elevated with Cinematic Mode. We also see even more creativity from all our users, from pros who will have another powerful tool to people who never thought of themselves as filmmakers but all of a sudden find themselves unlocking their talents.”

Cinematic Mode also takes the iPhone’s video capabilities to the “max level”, says Johnnie Manzari, designer, human interface team. He said during the interview that years of understanding photography, combined with Apple’s camera features such as portrait and lighting, depth control, machine learning and many others, have helped make this a reality.

“We knew bringing a high quality depth method to video will be magnitudes more challenging,” he added. “Unlike photos, videos are designed to move, so that meant we would need higher quality depth data.”

Manzari says that all this is possible thanks to the A15 Bionic processor found in the iPhone 13 line-up. Combined with a new Neural Engine and more sophisticated algorithms, the new iPhones are able to run everything frame by frame and in real time.

“It is just stunning and accurate, and it works in harmony with all our other top camera features,” he informed.

Silva says that Apple’s researchers spent a long time studying the history of cinema and the art of using focus to tell a story. However, they developed Cinematic Mode unconstrained by traditional techniques and with a deep reverence and respect for filmmaking history.

“We found out what craft has endured culturally and why, for hundreds or thousands of years, or even millennia. Even if we decide to deviate from certain techniques or extend them in new ways, we make those decisions deliberately, thoughtfully and respectfully,” he added.

Among the inspirations Apple used were the styles of portraiture artists Richard Avedon and Andy Warhol, the French painter Rembrandt and even the “beautiful” Chinese brush portraits from thousands of years ago.

Aside from that, they also spoke to some of the world’s top cinematographers and looked through the history of cinema all the way through legendary director Alfred Hitchcock’s films in order to get the maximum input as possible.

During last week’s keynote, Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow and nominee Greig Fraser were featured using the iPhone 13 Pro to create stunning film in some of cinema’s most iconic genres. The two directors, among the most recognized in the industry, came away impressed.

“It’s amazing that with anything you shot, you can change both where the focus is and the aperture level to affect the intensity of the depth effect while editing your video after capture,” Manzari says.

“You get the great flexibility to adjust your original recording to dramatically change the video’s feel and narrative. This is simply impossible in the world of traditional cameras, even for skilled experts.”

Apple also introduced, for the first time, macro photo and video on the iPhone 13. And an update for this is in the works.

"A new setting will be added in a software update this fall to turn off automatic camera switching when shooting at close distances for macro photography and video,” the company said.

The iPhone 13 will be available to the general public on Friday, and Apple is expected to welcome the usual crowd wanting to become among the first to own one. Prices for the iPhone 13 mini, 13, 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max start at Dh2,999, Dh3,399, Dh4,199 and Dh4,699, respectively.

— business@khaleejtimes.com

Staff Reporter





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