The iPhone 13 Is Here with Cinematic Mode

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.

iPhone 13

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.

Cinematic Mode

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.

Focus can tell when a character looks away towards another character.

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?     

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Your Comment


How much and where's the link to the Kathryn Bigelow short film you mentioned?

September 14, 2021 at 1:42PM


On youtube, if you search for iphone 13 Pro - Hollywood in you pocket, it should show up (can't post the link because I don't comment enough, haha)

September 14, 2021 at 2:30PM

Ted H

Thanks, Ted.

September 14, 2021 at 4:08PM


Rack focus looks cool and ProRes on a phone is nuts but all that dongle shooting with a lighting cable....nope.

September 15, 2021 at 10:55AM

Dylan Sunshine Saliba

Something I noticed in the presentation was that the iPhone 13 Pro has ProRes encode/decode baked directly into the A15 chip. I wonder if in a bigger chip for say a Macbook Pro or i/Mac Pro they could build a full Afterburner-esque chipset directly into the silicon. That would certainly be a coup for the Mac to be able to have ProRes acceleration (RAW or otherwise) baked in.

September 15, 2021 at 11:25AM


It seems that really good video from phones is normal now. I wonder if there's a way to automatically offload the clips in the background via bluetooth or wifi to an external storage device.

September 15, 2021 at 8:50PM

Dantly Wyatt
Writer, Director, Content Creator.

I'm guessing that it will only support 422 LT and 422, but not HQ due to storage requirements. ProRes RAW would allow for maximum IQ without much higher data rates, but I suspect that will never happen because they would have to pay Red for the internal RAW patent. Still, anything is better than recording to a delivery format like H.265

September 16, 2021 at 6:03AM

You voted '+1'.
Todd Takehana

From what I saw in the release video there is substantial "lens breathing" with the rack focus that was really noticeable and somewhat amateur. I am also very sceptical about any device that will decide what to focus upon... I want control over the focus point at all times. I still have my 6s and put my "Apple next gen gotta havit" funds into a Canon R and L series glass.

September 17, 2021 at 11:00AM, Edited September 17, 11:01AM