With the new iPhone 13 Pro, filmmakers finally get access to a real recording format without the drawbacks of H.265 in camera.
Today, Apple rolled out a new iPhone, the iPhone 13 Pro, that has a feature we've been waiting for for a long time: better recording formats for video.
Right now, even if you use a great app like FiLMiC Pro (which is the best way to record video on your phone and comes with the least processing), you are still stuck recording into the limited HEVC H.265 format. HEVC looks great, but doesn't offer you much room to manipulate it in post.
Now that changes with the new Apple Pro format for video.
With the iPhone 13 Pro models, you can shoot 4K 30p into Apple ProRes Video, which is going to be amazing for post. You'll have more robust files you can take direct to editing without transcodes straight from the camera.
The drawback is going to be massive file sizes. Shooting this format is going to fill up your camera much faster, so you are going to want to get a bigger internal storage volume if you are thinking this is going to be something you want to shoot a lot of video on.
There has been a refresh on all the cameras, with the big feature being a macro mode built into the wide-angle lens. The phone also has a 3X optical zoom built in, which is pretty darn cool, actually. If you have been frustrated with your ability to get a really great close-up by using the digital zoom, having real optical zoom built in is kind of amazing.
The new 13 Pro also includes a new ProMotion feature that adjusts the frame rate of your screen from down to 10hz all the way up to 120hz. This means 24fps content will play actually at 24fps, not scaled to another frame rate. If you game, or want to watch a 120hz movie, it can show that fully accurately as well.
Combined with the new 1000 nits screen means you could even do this outside on a sunny day.
The new lineup is both the 13 Pro and a plain old two-camera iPhone 13 which lacks the more advanced video features of the pro. But it does include one of the potentially cool features that rolled out for both cameras: rack focus.
On both the Pro and the normal iPhone there is a new "cinematic mode" that uses focus racks to guide the viewer's eye. Using computational algorithms, the iPhone is able to not just track objects moving around the screen, but also anticipate when a character is going to come into the frame (presumably with a wider angle view sensor).
It will even notice if a character looks away from the lens and rack focus to what the performer is looking at.
It happens both automatically or, if you want, with tap to focus. You can lock focus on individual actors, or keep taping to move focus around.
The demo is very impressive (though they always are), and we're curious to see it roll out in the field to see how it actually works. This is one of those things that filmmakers have wanted out of phone cameras for a while, and seeing it implemented in such a simple fashion is a big deal.
With the Pro, this is all recorded with the file and you can actually change your focus racks in post, which is nuts.
There are honestly a lot of updates here that are pretty amazing for filmmakers, and we can't wait to see what folks do with it.
To kick that off we got a short film from director Kathryn Bigelow and DP Greig Frasier to show off just how dramatic the image improvements that have come from such a simple device are.
We'll have more updates for you soon. But what do you think so far?