Last week, I touched on how impressed I am with ProRAW on the new iPhone 13 Pro. ProRAW debuted in last year’s iPhone 12 Pro, so I was about a year late to the ProRAW party after my iPhone 12 mini debacle.
Not so this year with Cinematic Mode. Instead, I’m just a few weeks late.
And really, this isn’t enough time either. I haven’t fully explored Cinematic Mode on the iPhone 13 Pro. Nor will I ever fully understand how the feature works or how to best implement it.
I’m no videographer. I don’t understand video. I have zero vision when creating a video. I don’t understand the required techniques or what makes a good video. Video is a massive, massive arena right now and photography’s smaller goalposts make it feel more approachable to me.
But Cinematic Mode does something to my unspectacular home videos which I never thought possible.
Cinematic Mode instantly turned crummy-quality videos of my girls dancing at home into videos of my girls dancing at home that I want to show off to the world.
And I mean “instantly” — the very first Cinematic Mode video I shot resulted in two “Oh my goshes” from me and another “Wow, that’s awesome!” from my wife.
Sure, you can see odd blurring around someone’s head. Sure, the iPhone isn’t perfect at choosing which area to put focus on (you can change the focus point in post-processing, so this is less of a concern). Sure, the video looks sort of artificial.
My untrained eyes have a heck of a time seeing those issues though. The only issue I see is the incredibly large video file I have to send when sharing with family and friends.
The videos shown in this post are super simple. Straight out of camera. Not a stitch of video editing. They may not even showcase the very best Cinematic Mode has to offer. But they are the first two videos I've ever shot where I feel a sense of "Wow!". Especially this second one with the sun flare.
Put it this way:
My oldest daughter took the training wheels off her bike last night and rode up and down Grandma and Grandpa’s driveway for an hour, all on her own. For the first time. I had kept my hand behind her seat and followed her along a few times before she looked back and said “Dad, by myself.”
Yeah, I cried. So did my wife.
Somewhere in the middle there, I pulled out the iPhone 13 Pro, flipped into Cinematic Mode and shot videos of her biking up and down the driveway. When she was further off in the distance, no, there was no artificial blur. But when I got closer and the iPhone could pick her face out of the background, the background turned to mush, her face took priority front and centre, and my video skills went from zero to hero in an instant.
I will forever be able to show my daughter the first time she rode a bike. When she looks back on the video, she may even think I knew what I was doing with a video camera in my hand.
At which point, of course, I’ll remind her it was all the iPhone and the only person with any skill that day was her riding a bike all by herself.
The iPhone 13 Pro camera system is making memories in my home right now. ProRAW has put a new level of photo editing quality into my pocket. And Cinematic Mode has a smoke and mirrors effect — I may be able to trick people into thinking I know how to shoot a video.
My home videos will see the biggest improvement in quality in the history of iPhone. There’s a chance Cinematic Mode is the most consequential camera upgrade to my iPhone ever.