Last night, Apple’s “Scary Fast” event saw the introduction of the Apple M3 family of processors, including the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max. Apple also introduced updated MacBook Pro models, including a beautiful Space Black version, and the first iMac update since 2021. The event was also significant for another reason. It was shot entirely on an iPhone.
Apple has regularly showcased the cinematic capabilities of its smartphones. However, this is the first time Apple has ever shot one of its events exclusively on iPhone. “All of the presenters, locations, and even drone footage was captured on iPhone by an elite team of filmmakers,” says Apple.
Unsurprisingly, Apple used an iPhone 15 Pro Max, the company’s flagship smartphone, to create the presentation video. Apple explains that filmmakers filmed the keynote using multiple iPhone 15 Pro Max devices, Blackmagic Camera, an iOS exclusive app, and Beastgrip accessories. The production was also edited on Mac computers.
“We were able to get the same complex shots with iPhone 15 Pro Max,” says event director Brian Oakes. “Everything is there to be an extension of someone’s vision or personality. The image quality of iPhone definitely democratizes the access.”
Colorist Stefan Sonnenfeld says, “When I first got the footage from iPhone 15 Pro Max, I was immediately pleasantly surprised. The quality of the image on iPhone 15 Pro Max is incredible, and it’s there. And I know because I’ve done it and I’ve seen it, and we’re doing this project with it.”
“For our colorists and VFX artists that we work with, I think being able to have that ProRes Log footage allows them a lot more opportunity to be able to really dial things in in a way they couldn’t have before,” explains editor Elizabeth Orson. “And this is beautiful because it’s like working with an Alexa or a Sony, and it has that same gamut that you can run as you’re coloring or as you’re doing your flame work. I think that’s great that we can give those people that kind of flexibility now.”
Visual effects artist Adam Watson explains that working with footage shot on iPhone 15 Pro Max is very similar to his typical workflow with expensive cinema cameras. “There’s been times when we’ve all forgotten it’s actually shot on iPhone,” Watson adds.
“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 imperceptible the difference between what we would have seen from previous years using the professional level cameras like the Sony and Alexa,” Watson concludes.
While there is no doubt that having a professional team of shooters, colorists, editors, and visual effects artists plays a significant role in just how good Apple’s “Scary Fast” presentation looked, there is something significant about what iPhone 15 Pro/Pro Max offers to regular filmmakers, content creators, and solo shooters.
Although drones, dollies, cranes, and other accessories and rigs can be very costly, the core image quality promised by iPhone 15 Pro smartphones is available to every owner, not just those with a filmmaking crew behind them. It is also true that a dedicated cinema camera, like something from Sony or ARRI, has a lot more flexibility in terms of lenses than an iPhone, but an iPhone 15 Pro, while not cheap, is a fraction of the cost of a cinema camera system.
The iPhone has long been a powerful tool for filmmakers of all experience levels and with practically any budget, and iPhone 15 Pro has taken the iPhone’s accessibility and performance to new heights. The move to USB-C has only strengthened iPhone’s position in video creation, enabling users to capture ProRes video at up to 4K 60fps directly to an external drive using a compatible USB 3 cable.
Image credits: Apple
Update on 10/31: Adjusted quote from Brian Oakes as the original line was mistakenly attributed to him in public materials at the time of publication.