I picked up a new iPhone 13 Pro over the weekend. By far the biggest buzz is over the new Cinematic Mode that is selective defocus either manually or by letting the iPhone AI pick what should be in focus based on where the subject might be looking. What’s most intriguing about Cinematic Mode is that the focus point is editable after you shoot with supported software. This idea isn’t entirely original as the Light camera had a similar idea but while that camera failed iPhones are everywhere and this is kinda fun.
It’s easy to capture video in Cinematic Mode, you just swipe to that new setting in the Camera app on your supported phone. My main questions were more about how you’d edit clips shot in Cinematic Mode … so I answered them.
How do I know a view was shot in Cinematic Mode?
That’s easy. When browsing photos in the Photos app you’ll see a CINEMATIC icon in the upper left.
When browsing in iMovie you’ll see a tiny little special camera icon on the thumbnail. Unlike a regular video, the Cinematic camera icon has a little square on it.
What applications can actually edit Cinematic Mode?
Currently, this special type of focus adjustment can only be edited in the Photos app with an iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and later with iOS 15 as well as the latest update to iMovie. You can also use those same apps on an iPad.
I’ve seen stories that say Apple’s Clips app can edit Cinematic mode but that’s misleading. You can’t adjust the focus and that’s the whole point. So Clips can import and work with Cinematic video but so can any video editing application, like Premiere Rush and LumaFusion.
I’ve read that if you’re using an updated version of iMovie on MacOS Monterey then it will support Cinematic Mode post-production focusing as well. It has been announced that this will be coming to Final Cut Pro X later as well.
What about editing Cinematic Mode in other editing tools like Adobe Premiere Pro or DaVinci Resolve?
What about it? Cinematic videos are video clips so they can be edited in any non-linear editing application.
You can’t adjust the focus on clips like those above in Premiere Pro as that feature isn’t supported outside of Apple’s ecosystem of currently supported applications.
Will other non-Apple apps be able to adjust focus in the future?
One would hope but this is up to Apple. They would have to release a toolkit with that kind of support for editing the focus after shooting. If they do I would expect LumaFusion to get this capability as soon as it’s available.
I’m getting confused about “editing Cinematic Mode” vs. editing the selective focus in Cinematic Mode. Am I dumb?
No, you are not dumb. Any video shot in Cinematic Mode is just an H.264 or HEVC video clip, depending on your phone’s settings. Those can be edited in most anything that can edit video. Any Cinematic Mode adjustments done during filming will, as far as I can tell, be baked into the clip when imported into another editing app on your phone or sent over to the desktop for editing there.
What if you enable the Photos Keep Originals setting so iOS doesn’t bake anything into the clip when, say, using AirDrop to send a Cinematic clip to a Mac?
Good thought and I tried just that but nothing as far as the ability to edit the focus points in other NLEs. That is a function that will have to be built into future applications should Apple support it.
Is it easy to edit?
Kinda. You can think of it a bit like keyframing an animation only you aren’t setting multiple keyframes per “move” just setting a point where you want the focus to change.
The screen capture above is a Cinematic clip playing back in the edit mode of the Photos app. As the kids and the referee ran around the soccer field you can see all the different focus points in that clip. The white dots are focus points that the phone automatically added as it tried to do some rack focusing while the bigger yellow dots are focus points I added by manually tapping points on the screen. This is indeed a difficult kind of shot for Cinematic mode to “automagically” track.
As you scrub through a Cinematic clip in the little timeline you get a bit of haptic feedback as the playhead scrubs over the focus points.
What if I don’t like all the focus madness that I’ve done?
If you go overboard with the cinematicness of a shot you could delete all the manual focus points you’ve added to just use the Revert option that is available at the top right of the Photos app to revert a video (or image) back to the original metadata and original focus points from when it was shot. If you’re in iMovie it’ll be Reset in the timeline.
If you want to delete focus points that were added by tapping the screen while shooting or added after the fact by tapping a new focus point while editing you can delete those by hitting the trash can icon that pops up when post-editing a Cinematic clip.
If I add some manual focus points in the Photos app those appear to stay only in the Photos app. If I import that same clip into iMovie those new focus points don’t import to iMovie though I can add news once in iMovie.
Won’t Cinematic Mode “automatically” track faces and things and adjust the focus? You used that word “automagically” above.
Yes, it will. Apple made a great little short about this and the technology that uses AI to track faces and adjust that focus as talent looks away and back to the camera.
But I’ve got another question for Cinematic Mode… how does it track a shoe in the foreground and dropping focus to soccer kids far away on a foggy soccer field?
The purpose of this shoe video is to compare that to what that looks like as Cinematic Mode tracks through an app that can see and edit the focus points. The above video is HDR so depending on where you view the video it might look very blown out. That was my first HDR upload to YouTube so gotta figure that one out. 🤷♂️
You can see how the focus points track as this shoe clip plays back in iMovie.
Can you change the depth of field in Cinematic Mode like you can with an actual, real camera and lens?
The depth of the focus can be changed as each focus point has the ability to adjust the F-stop, kind of like a real lens.
Haven’t I see something like that in other iOS camera modes?
Yes, shooting SLO-MO on an iPhone gets you some special editing of slow-motion clips.
This slo-mo editing tool is supported in Apple’s tools like Photos and iMovie.
Is this all ProRes because I heard the new iPhone 13 Pros support ProRes capture on the phone.
This ProRes support is coming but it hasn’t been released as of this writing.
I hear the camera bump has changed. Will my iPhone 12 case fit an iPhone 13?
I will if you modify it.
Is Cinematic Mode actually useful?
Actually yes. It’s incredibly fun to shoot with depending on your situation and if you like to tinker with your footage (if you’re reading this you like to tinker with your footage) you’ll get a kick out of Cinematic Mode.
Is it worth the iPhone upgrade cost just for Cinematic Mode for video?
Probably not but if you are in the iPhone Upgrade Program then, if you’re eligible, absolutely.
Is it going to revolutionize filmmaking like the Canon 5D did and some blogs say it is going to?
Uhhh … no.
Yea but it is going to be useful for professional filmmaking and post-production in general?
Probably not. If anything the upgraded camera overall in the new iPhone 13s will make them more useful in the professional space as well the upcoming ProRes support on the iPhone.
Will rack focus and Cinematic Mode be overused and become ubiquitous on YouTube?
Of course it will.
Do you think you should move into cinematography with that amazing 👟 and ⚽️ video?
No. No, I do not.