February 5, 2014

Apple Shot a Wonderful Video Only On iPhones & So Can You! (With Lots of Money & a Full Crew)

January 24, 2014 marked 30 years since the original Macintosh was unveiled by Apple, and to commemorate the occasion, they decided to make a video around the world in just one day, showing all the ways people use Apple products. What better device to shoot this commercial on than the iPhone 5S -- which plenty of people have in their pockets? Check out the full ad below, as well as what it took to coordinate the crews around the world.

What the team accomplished is pretty amazing, but I think something that gets lost on people at times is what goes on behind the scenes to make these sorts of things happen. They may have shot on iPhones, but a good amount money was spent on support gear and personnel to make it happen. Again, that's not to take anything away from what they were able to do (because it's pretty wild when you look at it), but the average person probably won't be going out and producing something like this just with their phone -- there is a bit more to it than that. Likely their thinking in using the phones was, why not if we can make it work to our advantage?

And with that out of the way, here's the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJahlKPCL9g

Behind the scenes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vslQm7IYME4

The video was directed by Jake Scott, son of Ridley as seen here (from the Apple website):

In order to direct 15 separate locations filming in a single day, Jake Scott transformed a sound stage in Los Angeles into a command center. He equipped it with an arsenal of Apple products including iMac, Mac Pro, and iPad, along with large projection displays positioned around the room. From there he was able to watch every scene as it was shot, and direct all the action remotely via FaceTime. Many involved in the production believe this innovative approach to a multilocation shoot will be adopted by other filmmakers.

The command center is rather impressive, and the fact that they were coordinating shoots from around the world in just one room is amazing. This control room could very well be its own movie, but I think it will be interesting if we see more of this in the future. I could imagine a production using this technique to be on set somewhere, and be directing a second unit at the same time in a completely different location.

It's clear that a lot of money goes into these sorts of things, so really the camera is almost an afterthought. It's good, however, to put into perspective what it takes behind the scenes -- even if they were shooting on iPhones (and at 30fps, which Apple should have selectable to 24fps at this point).

You can read about more of this over on the Apple website.

Links:

Your Comment

51 Comments

I was convinced they had to be using some after market lenses to achieve this. I was wrong.

February 5, 2014 at 2:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Amazing what you can do with just an iPhone....and a whole lot of money and talented people. Or - not so amazing after all. What would amaze me is if the result didn't look as awesome as it did, given the resources required to pull it off.

February 5, 2014 at 2:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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I totally agree with you, Joe. The cameras are really impressive, but you have a talented crew behind it to make it works (as it always were on movies, a camera is only a camera if you don't have people to wisely operate it). The idea of a command room and footage coming from all over the World is pretty charming thinking as a low budget producer, also in Brazil (for example) an iPhone costs almost the same as a basic DSLR camera (for sure the cheapest one but still a camera with a way more options) what didn't make the video so impressive to me (a Brazilian guy).
I am pretty sure that in the future we will have cameras that will be able to create an amazing scene for a few hundred bucks and what will differ the pros from the regular people will be our ability to create amazing shots based on our knowledge. As always, nice post. =)

February 5, 2014 at 2:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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funny, I don't remember a steadicam, rig, or a dolly coming coming with my iphone.

February 5, 2014 at 2:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Abdulaziz Lamlum

They don't come with any Camera neither so what's your point......? My Red didn't come with ppl or rigs neither....it's what u make it...... So stfu

February 5, 2014 at 3:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Kendrick

He was obviously joking... Calm down.

February 5, 2014 at 9:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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BL

he wanted to emphasize the fact that only an iphone is not sufficient to do all that. They had to use some gears like dolly and blablabla

February 6, 2014 at 5:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Sharon stone

"Many involved in the production believe this innovative approach to a multilocation shoot will be adopted by other filmmakers."

Wasn't Peter Jackson directing his second unit during the LOTR trilogy via video link? Or perhaps just reviewing dailies, can't remember.

A fun post, thanks for adding it to NFS.

February 5, 2014 at 3:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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US soap operas are generally shot that way - off a control room. Frank Coppola thought highly of this to have visited the set of "Young and the Restless" recently. When you think about it, it is a decent way to put together 50 pages of script in one day.
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A couple of points -
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a) Sony's camera-in-a-lens can be/should be (in the near future) connectable to the tablets and laptops as well, allowing a nearly instantaneous production studio.
b) Newer 2-axis gimbal based stabilizers for the small cams like iPhone can be had these days for under $300. Stabilizers for heavier DSLR/DSLM cameras can be had for as little as $600, with nicer 3-Axis units running under a grand. This is where a DSLR/DSLM style piece like the new GH4K might come in really handy.

February 5, 2014 at 7:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

I have been filming ALSO with iphones since the 4. It was amazing when they gave us full HD and filming apps started to appear. I even shot das with iphone being a cutaway camera or even an A one....I love small cameras so I am all for this kind of things. Not comparig cameras Zacuto guys had shown before that this was possible. In the shootout they published who could say for sure which camera was which? Although I use larger cinema cameras I have a special relationship with the iphone....Thank you Apple. ( I wish some clients would watch this) :-)

February 9, 2014 at 6:54AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Augusto Alves d...

I immediately sold my D800 and ordered a new iphone!

February 5, 2014 at 3:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Fanboy

Just announced: iphone 6 -- 20mp, 6k OIS, 4.4.4 color space. 3 axis stabilizer in the lens housing.

February 6, 2014 at 1:58AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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iphonerumors

I hope Iphone 6 bring us the posiblity to shoot at 120 fps at 1080p. I do my videovlog on youtube on my ipod, it seems good enough for my suscripteurs

February 5, 2014 at 3:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Nelson

Even the newest gopro model doesn't have capability to shoot 120 fps at fullhd, so I think that iPhone 6 can't reach 60fps 1080p

February 5, 2014 at 4:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Pete

New GH4 is - according to rumors two days ahead of its official launch - will be capable of 120 fps at Full HD resolution.

February 5, 2014 at 10:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

Not true it can over cranked to 96fps in full hd.

February 8, 2014 at 3:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Caleb

I'm all for showcasing how talent behind the technology is truly the deciding factor on a quality video film/video, but this is silly. When you have the budget to employ so much staff and support equipment, what you are also telling people watching the film, is that you might have this device but you still need said resources. If they had approached it with numerous individuals across the globe combining their variety of shots into one cohesive film then I think it would have a greater impact.

February 5, 2014 at 3:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Krishna Yalla

It wouldn't have looked nearly as nice doing it the way you suggest. Besides, everybody knows what typically shot mobile phone video looks like. No offense, but the whole "show us the footage you've shot with your iPhone and we'll put it in a commercial" idea is about 3 or 4 years too late. I think it works better for Apple by showing just how good the camera is (when combined with talent and know-how). It gives people something to aspire to. Filmmaking is filmmaking. If anything, I think the message it sends is, if you want your iPhone footage to look this good, you're going to have to incorporate at least some tried-and-true filmmaking techniques. That's a lesson many NFS readers have still yet to learn.

February 5, 2014 at 8:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Brian

Right on.

February 9, 2014 at 9:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Daniel Mimura

When do you don´t need resources to give your films the max quality ?

February 9, 2014 at 6:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Augusto Alves d...

The point here is precisely the camera does not matter nearly as much as your subject, the light, the camera movement, and yes, the crew and creativity of the creators.

If this wasn't a film for all those people saying "I NEED X [insert camera/lens here] and I'll be better!", I don't know what is.

February 5, 2014 at 4:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Paul

Thanks Paul

+100

February 5, 2014 at 5:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Wait a minute. You mean the daily arguments here about 4k this vs 2k that are irrelevant? I can't become a instant cinematographer by spending lots of money on the best possible camera of the week?

February 5, 2014 at 7:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Charlie

Sorry, but I find this utterly ridiculous. The supporting equipment used (rigs, gimbals, steadycams etc.) is so high end and expensive that it doesn't make sense to throw in a $600 iPhone - all the more, since spending $200 more on a Blackmagic Pocket would have advanced the quality of the footage into an entire different league.

This is nothing but a showcase production for Apple. To make a really convincing case for the iPhone as a shooting tool, you'd have to reduce the gear to a simple iPhone GorillaPod, and all postproduction to iPhone/iPad apps.

February 5, 2014 at 6:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Florian

Let me clarify my above statement: This video does just NOT show that the camera doesn't matter when super-expensive pro gear is used to make up for its limitations and create more impressive shots. The real proof would be a captivating film shot on an iPhone with a cheap tripod solution, available light, iPhone sound recording and editing in iMovie for iOS.

February 5, 2014 at 6:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Florian

Hi. I shot 90% of a low budget feature film on an iPhone 3GS. I am now editing it on FCPX on a MacBook Pro.
I must say I am surprised, and so is everyone who sees the footage, how good it looks. I think one doesn't need all the expensive gear If you kinda know what you're doing and can experiment a little when shooting.
From Vaughan Giose at Rainbow Circle Films.

February 8, 2014 at 12:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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"This is nothing but a showcase production for Apple"

Of course, that's exactly what it is, it's a commercial and it's how Apple does all of their commercials. They show people in the world using their products in "everyday situations", Just because there is more gear doesn't take away from this fact. Anyone with an iPhone can make a movie like this, sure it won't be as stable because they don't have all the extra gear, but the point is that they are trying to sell Apple products, not BlackMagic or RED products.

February 5, 2014 at 6:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Julian

Turns out both Luke and Jake are talented. Good job. Scott.

February 5, 2014 at 6:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Natt

They could have gotten more out of that phone using i.e. the filmic pro app and post effects like a decent denoiser. but probably the point was to use the original apple video app. It's quite avarage compared to what other achieve with their iphone, isn't it.

February 5, 2014 at 6:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Luke

Quite average except for the perfect lighting and camera movement, achieved by professional grips and gaffers and tons of expensive gear ;)

February 11, 2014 at 6:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Heiko

I want to know what it is Apple blocked out on the left wrist at :49 seconds in (see green shape). Seems strange that they didn't blur it but instead blocked it out with motion tracked green shape. Can see the same guys' left wrist with gaffe tape covering something at :54 seconds. Thoughts?

Beyond that, this BTS piece really showed me more about the potential for remote directing or client sign off while you're still in the field.

February 5, 2014 at 7:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Eric

That looks to me to be a day-glo green wristband of the type you might get at an event to signify you paid to get in or you're cleared to be in a certain place. The guy with the shaved head in the conductor shot has one on his right wrist as well. It probably means they're crew or something.

February 5, 2014 at 8:28PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Brian

Yeah I saw the bracelet in the other shot,but to my eyes this looks different in shape and size. Could be wrong.

February 6, 2014 at 4:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Eric

I'm confused :(

February 5, 2014 at 8:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Robert B.

Meaningless.

February 5, 2014 at 8:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Silly commercial, try using an Iphone for any filming other than a gimmick and you will find yourself never working again. It's just a underwhelming device for flaky undiscerning consumers. This whole 30 year anniversary segment just shows where Apple's focus is at, and it is making stupid toys for the masses, not groundbreaking equipment for working professionals.

February 5, 2014 at 9:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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James

120fps on a phone is underwhelming? That's funny.

February 6, 2014 at 8:59AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Will

The lack of imagination in these comments never ceases to amaze me. If you were in charge of the project, large or small, you could shoot it on anything you wanted. Everything is fair game if it gets the job done.

The commercial clearly shows working professionals in VARIOUS fields using these "stupid toys" to accomplish their work but you can't see past your own perspective. This is yet another example of the "if it doesn't suit MY specific needs it's completely useless as a tool for everyone else" mode of self-obsessed thinking. Not only that, you're still riding the "Apple doesn't care about professionals" train. Snap out of it.

February 6, 2014 at 9:55AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Brian

I guess some of us remember Ridley was the director of the Apple spot that aired only "once" during the Super Bowl. The media made a sensation of that fact (airing over and over as news) and it is now considered one of the greatest TV ads ever. Seems fitting that he and Jake are doing this so many years later. Loved the shot of Lee Clow at work in the BTS video. One of the greatest Creative Directors ever…Also this spot reminds me of the Prudential spot that Shane Hurlbut did filming sunrises all over the US on the same day with lots of 5D MKIIs...

February 6, 2014 at 2:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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rob

I actually shared this post with my friends and networks. I thought it made a great argument to those people that think that just because they have an iPhone or DSLRs that they can make a film or video at the touch of a button. Technology aside I think it really shows how complicated, expensive and labour intensive it can be to make something look great. I hope it provides potential clients an insight into the work we try to do.

February 6, 2014 at 2:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Dan Herrick

They said they used different apps as well. Not just the in-phone camera app. There are apps out there that allow to shoot at 24fps. I do agree that Apple should integrate it within the camera app.
As for the ones saying that this is dumb... I think they were clearly just showing what you could do with an iPhone. Heck, you can build your own stabilization rigs for your phone easily. I made one with a cymbal stand attachment and an iPhone mount for a bicycle. It's all about creativity. Megapixels aside, I think iPhone 5S has a great camera.

February 6, 2014 at 8:56AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Will

10 years ago, you couldn't have achieved this level of quality on any camera costing less than $100k. Now it comes as a side feature on a portable computer + telephone that fits in your pocket and costs $600.

If you aren't impressed by the advancement of technology, then you're one heck of a cynical curmudgeon. I can't help but feel that the posters complaining about the expensive crew/rig are COMPLETELY missing the point here.

February 6, 2014 at 11:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Swissted

Well no one has commented that the footage is a bit of a bore considering the scale of the production. Music, sound, images nice enough but its very cold and lacks any kind of global connectivity we associate with the device.

February 6, 2014 at 3:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Dan

Seems like Microsoft copied Apple again with their Super Bowl ad implying how innovative and trendsetting they are. Even though the have missed several of the major trends and always have to hurry up and copycat others. Apple may have not invented all of their technology, but they certainly have perfected it.

February 6, 2014 at 4:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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I think of the people and technological advancements that make this possible - to me it is stunning how far the world has come. On the other hand, they are doing the same as GoPro, showcasing the very best their camera can do, regardless of the background equipment and skilled talent operating it.

They are producing and marketing a product for mass consumption, not to a very small number of video/photo professionals. If pros use it fine-if you were making products like these, who is your end user? Sell a few thousand products to a very small niche market, or to the worlds population?

February 6, 2014 at 4:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Umbala

that's awesome Sean Bobbitt worked on this.

February 6, 2014 at 5:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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luke

Yes, it was an Apple spot. And the BTS video is just as much a commercial as the actual TV spot.
If you never see that BTS video or read articles like this, all of the work involved and "linked up" production design is lost.

I worked on a similar styled designed spot a couple years ago. The creative was about seeing your first sunrise on your first day of retirement. The design was to film the same sunrise on the same exact day from cameras lined up across the U.S.. We used DSLRs (the hot camera of that week) and piped the live images back to NY (base camp) and the Director via wifi. Lots of location scouting, pre-production, and hard work went into it. Like the Apple spot, unless I didn't tell you all that, you'd never know.
Here's the spot http://vimeo.com/24538540 and here's that BTS video http://vimeo.com/36513137

February 6, 2014 at 7:28PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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With that kind of shot and fast pace cuts, we can't really judge the cinematic of the iPhone but merely the creative way of editing the whole scene I believe. I agree the whole idea of multi-production-crew that will be a new norm soon in Hollywood.

February 7, 2014 at 7:24AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Two requests on this whole idea:
1) A complete list of the crazy good gear that was holding each iPhone in each location. And how much that gear cost.
2) How did they pipe the footage data to the command center.

February 7, 2014 at 3:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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earnestreply

This video is impressive considering resources that were used to make it, but it's still an iPhone. I'm not saying that it needs to have 14 stops of dynamic range and shoot 12-bit RAW in 4K or anything, but I think one needs to take into consideration that this spot was captured with a mobile phone. There are some real limitations and, that being said, I think those limitations were dealt with in a spectacular way by the crew of this production. Nice work!

February 7, 2014 at 10:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Ian

"Edited on final cut pro 7"

February 11, 2014 at 11:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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