I recently had the chance to compare and contrast a completely impromptu iPhone video shoot with a carefully planned interview shoot with a full studio setup – and while the results were certainly not comparable, my iPhone 13 Pro Max did. does a perfectly solid job.
Not so long ago, I helped out a friend by doing three video interviews. To do this, I used two BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera rigs, a motorized slider, studio lighting, a separate sound engineer with his own gear, and two hours of setup before shooting. The results won’t be ready to share for a while, but I was able to review the footage…
When I was in Buenos Aires last month, I had no intention of filming anything other than video snaps from the trip – as I did with my iPhone 11 during my last visit.
However, I was shocked to find that a fantastic tango teacher and friend I met last time didn’t have a website to promote himself with to other foreign visitors. I proposed to create a very small site for her.
Laura is a very thoughtful and engaging person, and talks about tango with great passion and insight, so I wanted a video interview to be the first and main thing visitors saw. I had precisely none of the kit I had used a few weeks earlier.
What I had was my iPhone 13 Pro Max, a compact Airbnb apartment, and about 15 minutes total for setup and shooting before Laura went on vacation! This clearly wasn’t going to allow for big ambitions in terms of production values…
The setup was…basic. The iPhone 13 was on a mini tripod with iPhone stand. It wasn’t high enough, so the tripod was placed on a cushion. I already knew that cinematic mode wasn’t good enough for artificial shallow depth of field – the artifacts were going to be too distracting. All I could do here was maximize the very limited separation available in the small space by pulling in from the hatch between the kitchen and living room, with the patio doors to the balcony in the background.
The lighting was…another iPhone balanced on a bowl of fruit, with the torch on!
The sound was yet another iPhone, running Just Press Record and placed directly under Laura’s chin.
It was as amateur a setup as it gets, and the contrast to studio shooting was stark to say the least. The video will definitely not win any awards.
And yet…it was good enough for the job he had to do. It coped with low light without noise; there was enough background separation to avoid distraction; and, in truth, the embedded audio was 95% as good as the separate audio track I used. It allowed me to shoot a completely impromptu video with zero kit beyond the iPhones we had in the apartment – and get a result that was good enough to use on a website.
To me, that’s pretty remarkable. Being able to do a “real” shoot like this in 15 minutes using only iPhones is something that would have been unimaginable not so long ago. It’s not a film camera, but it was the camera I had on me – and it was good enough to get the job done.