How to make cinematic video with iPhone

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Apple rolled out cinematic mode with the iPhone 13 and, of course, I wanted to see what impact it can have for us content creators. So let’s look at how to make cinematic video with an iPhone.

What is cinematic mode?

Cinematic mode on iPhone uses Dolby Vision which, according to Dolby offers:

  • ultra vivid colors
  • sharper contrasts
  • richer details

I would say that’s true looking at some of the footage I’ve shot in cinematic mode. For example, we shot this Amazon product review video about a Lego set in cinematic mode. The details are definitely a step up from traditional HD.

What’s the difference between cinematic mode and HD?

Cinematic mode has the added Dolby Vision functionality but the dimensions of the video file are similar to regularly shot HD. You can see the difference by clicking on the i for info on your video file in your camera roll.

Here’s the file info for a cinematic video:

cinematic mode

The files are a larger too, which makes sense given the added details. A typical video file of a similar length was about one third the size.

How to shoot cinematic mode on iPhone

Simply go to your iPhone camera or swipe left on your locked iPhone and then scroll over to “cinematic” at the bottom.

using cinematic mode

You can also turn your flash on to have an instant light that is pointing at whatever it is you are filming. The light function also works on regular videos.

From there, simply start recording as you normally would. The biggest difference perhaps from the typical video function is that you cannot zoom in. That does make sense as we want the footage to be super crystal clear and have those vivid details. That’s possible when the camera is near the scene being filmed. You’ll have to zoom with your feet. Move closer when necessary.

You can also click the screen to focus in on a specific area. Click the red record button as you normally would to record and click it again to finish.

When to use cinematic mode

This way to shoot video works best when you are using your iPhone and are near the scene that you want to capture video of. For example, it wouldn’t work well for me shooting video of softball games. The cameras are usually positioned behind the fence and maybe 10 feet away from the action. It seems to me that that distance is too far for me to take full advantage of the beauty of the footage.

The key takeaway is that you need to be somewhat close to the action.

This mode also works well if you are creating a one-take video. By that I mean, there’s no editing of anything together afterward. Our Lego video was one take. We decided what we wanted to talk about and what we wanted to share and then started rolling.

If you plan on editing these files after the fact, make sure that whatever editing software you use keeps the quality the way it was recorded.

Can cinematic mode be used on livestreams?

I’m always looking for ways to make my livestreams look better! That includes lighting and overall office setup. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell livestreams cannot be shot yet in cinematic mode. And even if they could, some social networks sample down high-quality video livestreams anyway.

However, you can connect your iPhone to your MacBook and live stream that way. That quality is also fantastic.

Cinematic mode conclusion

Content creators always should be striving to make content look and sound better while it’s also highly relevant. Production quality matters. So being able to shoot videos this way can be a differentiator – especially if your competitors aren’t using the same quality.

Also, don’t be surprised or frustrated when some networks don’t yet accept the full quality of cinematic mode. Amazon product review videos,

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