Behind-the-Scenes of Apple Event Shot on iPhone 15 Pro Max – a Sign of Things to Come?

October 31st, 2023 Jump to Comment Section 23
Behind-the-Scenes of Apple Event Shot on iPhone 15 Pro Max – a Sign of Things to Come?

Yesterday’s “Scary Fast” Apple Event, which saw the unveiling of the new MacBook Pro and iMac with M3 chips, was shot entirely with the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Apple just shared a behind-the-scenes video and stills from the production.

When Apple announced the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max in September, we had already anticipated that the pro video world might soon see a similar shift to the DSLR revolution over a decade ago: the introduction of Apple Log. The Apple Log feature unlocks the full dynamic range of the phone’s sensors, providing a less processed image (without post-sharpening or algorithmic HDR effects applied). Additionally, it allows for shooting in ProRes format and external recording onto SSDs (or SD memory cards with a card reader), unlocking unprecedented visual capabilities of pro filming using a smartphone.

Yes, the sensor is small compared to most pro cameras. But, if you can work with that fact and mostly shoot with deep depth-of-field, it could mean that you can produce images that are hard to discern from much higher-end cameras in many scenarios.

iPhone 15 Pro Max rigged on an admittedly huge Spacecam rig. Image source: Apple

Apple delivers the proof that it’s possible: the entire event was shot on iPhone 15 Pro Max

And now it turns out that Apple has provided the evidence for that theory themselves. Their latest Apple Event, dubbed “Scary Fast”, which saw the introduction of the MacBook Pro M3 and iMac M3, was entirely shot on iPhone 15 Pro Max. Here’s a write-up on their own site about the production.

iPhone is great new tool in the palette of filmmakers. Seeing it as any different is doing injustice to any of the other mediums that people bleed for as filmmakers. Everything is there to be an extension of someone’s vision or personality. The image quality of iPhone definitely democratizes the access.

Director Brian Oakes

Team used Blackmagic Camera app and Beastgrip accessories

Apple also just announced that the team used the Blackmagic Camera app and Beastgrip accessories in the production. We can also see a Spacecam gyro stabilizer and DJI RS 3 Mini three-axis gimbals used on the production, and they also mounted it on a drone for all the nightly drone shots.

Impressive low-light shots, even on drones

The production also proves how well the phones shoot in low light, as significant parts of the Apple Event were shot in very low-light conditions. For example, in the behind-the-scenes shot below, we can see that they used the main 24mm camera (“middle” camera) of the iPhone 15 Pro Max at 59.94 fps and 475 ISO.

Low-light shooting with the iPhone 15 Pro Max on the set of Apple’s “Scary Fast” event. Image source: Apple
Getting the iPhone 15 Pro Max ready on a drone using a DJI Ronin gimbal and Beastgrip accessories. Image credit: Apple

In another behind-the-scenes shot below, we can see they went with the minimum available ISO in the Blackmagic Camera app: ISO 55.

Using Blackmagic Camera app to shoot the “Scary Fast” Apple event on iPhone 15 Pro Max. It’s also apparent that external SSDs were used for recording. Image source: Apple

Here you can see the resulting shot – graded, of course – as it appeared in the event stream (screenshot from the YouTube version). What’s apparent is that it’s “all about the lighting”, as usual with any video/film production. The best thing about the iPhone 15 Pro (& Max) camera is that it doesn’t draw attention to itself. In fact, it would be hard for anyone to identify this as something shot on a smartphone if they didn’t tell us about it.

Screenshot from Apple’s “Scary Fast” event stream. Image source: Apple

The thing that impressed me the most about the iPhone 15 Pro’s footage was when we went through that comparison phase after we finished production. I was sitting with the colorist and it really was imperceivable the difference between what we would have seen from previous years using the professional level cameras like the Sony and Alexa.

Adam Watson VFX

Production Crew of Apple’s “Scary Fast” Event

  • Director, Brian Oakes (RadicalMedia)
  • Colorist, Stefan Sonnenfeld (CEO Company 3)
  • Lead Editor, Elizabeth Orson (VFX)
  • Adam Watson (Executive Creative Director at Method Studios)
  • Advisors, Jon Carr and Jeff Wozniak (Apple Pro Workflow Team)

Coming soon: CineD Lab Test of the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone Pro Max

Because CineD recognizes the immense potential of the video quality that is now possible with the latest iPhones, we have decided to adapt our Lab Test (dynamic range, latitude, and rolling shutter tests) to accommodate the testing of smartphones. We are currently in post-production of our Lab Test for iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone Pro Max and can’t wait to share the results with our audience. As usual, you can expect the most objective technical results possible. These tests will be published in November and will of course also find their way into the CineD Camera Database.

In case you missed the Apple event, here it is:

What do you think about the visual quality of Apple’s “Scary Fast” event? Do you think smartphones will take over some productions in the near future? Let us know in the comments below.


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