October 31, 2023
Behind the scenes at Scary Fast: Apple’s keynote event shot on iPhone and edited on Mac
On Monday, October 30, at Apple’s Scary Fast special event unveiling the all-new MacBook Pro with the M3 family of chips and 24-inch iMac with M3, there was an unseen star of the show working behind the scenes. All of the presenters, locations, and drone footage in the event were filmed using iPhone 15 Pro Max, the preferred smartphone for creative pros and filmmakers. Led by documentary film director Brian Oakes, known for the award-winning Jim: The James Foley Story and Living with Lincoln, Scary Fast put iPhone 15 Pro Max right in the middle of the action.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max camera system offers the best video in a smartphone, with its quality rivaling those of professional video cameras. iPhone 15 Pro Max enables creatives to capture in ProRes up to 4K60 fps to an external drive with Apple Log encoding, which allows even more detail to be preserved for post-production color grading. iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are also the first smartphones in the world to support the Academy Color Encoding System (ACES), a global standard for color workflows.
“We were able to get the same complex shots with iPhone 15 Pro Max,” says Oakes. “It’s amazing to see that the quality from a device that is so small and so portable can rival a large $20,000 camera.”
The production was advised by Apple’s Jon Carr, a Pro Workflow video specialist whose credits include Top Gun: Maverick and Terminator: Dark Fate, and Jeff Wozniak, who has worked on productions including Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Avatar, and Iron Man 2. “This year, iPhone 15 Pro Max was supercharged with the ability to record ProRes to an external drive, and Apple Log, our flavor of a format that all of the very high-end digital cameras shoot,” says Wozniak.
“It’s pretty amazing how you can put this in the hands of someone who’s a professional director and they don’t have to change their equipment — they don’t have to change any of the things that they always do,” adds Carr.
Capturing footage with multiple iPhone 15 Pro Max devices, the team utilized the integration between iPhone 15 Pro, the Blackmagic Camera app, and Tentacle Sync, showcasing the true power of the Apple ecosystem. Connected via Bluetooth, Tentacle Sync drives timecode and enables all devices on set — including Macs and preview screens — to be synced throughout the production. Beastgrip accessories, including cages and rigs, were also used during the production.
Here’s how Scary Fast came to life behind the scenes.
iPhone 15 Pro Max with the new USB-C connector brings a huge leap in data transfer with speeds of up to 10Gbps with a compatible USB 3 cable. This supports new workflows like ProRes video recording directly to an external SSD drive, allowing the crew to review footage in near real time and make adjustments on the fly. In post, editors can also take advantage of the higher dynamic range enabled with Apple Log, bringing even more control and flexibility into color grading.
Shot under the cover of night at Apple Park, Scary Fast showcased the improvements in low-light video performance on iPhone 15 Pro Max. With ProRes Log encoding, iPhone 15 Pro Max has even more high and low light range than previous models, resulting overall in better dynamic range and better flexibility for color grading in post-production. “When I first got the footage from iPhone 15 Pro Max, I was immediately pleasantly surprised,” says Stefan Sonnenfeld, Company 3’s CEO, who colored the presentation and has worked on projects including Stranger Things, The Equalizer 3, and Fast X. “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.”
Using the Blackmagic Camera app designed exclusively for iOS users, the crew was able to leverage the same interface as Blackmagic Design’s award-winning digital film cameras, which provided the same tools used in feature films, television shows, and documentaries. Available now for free on the App Store, the app adds digital film camera controls to iPhone and supports Apple Log encoding on iPhone 15 Pro Max. “We’ve done a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes working with a great third-party developer, Blackmagic Design, that has created an incredible app that allows us to have huge amounts of monitors and crew, and everybody working how they traditionally would,” says Carr.
On the set, the crew employed traditional filming techniques — even the use of drones — seamlessly with iPhone 15 Pro Max to capture the scenes and showcase the new MacBook Pro. “There’s cranes, there’s dollies, there’s all the toys that you want as a filmmaker, and everybody’s moving and has their job to do, and it’s just a very exciting and lively environment,” says Oakes.
Reflecting on the incredible versatility and ease of use of iPhone, Sonnenfeld says, “I think what I love about the iPhone is it enables everybody who uses it to have access to incredible amounts of information, and with a really intuitive operating system, so that whether it’s myself or my 7-year-old, anybody can pick it up and pretty much use it right away.”
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