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How to Use Cinematic Mode to Record Video on iPhone 13

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Just about every year, Apple seems to release a new iPhone, and with that we've seen improvements to the photography specs so that we can capture better low-light photographs and enjoy more powerful processing features.

That's not to say that video has gone completely unchanged with Apple. Starting with the 11 series, we started seeing updates like Quick Take and then Apple ProRaw for the 12 Pro and Pro Max. With the release of the iPhone 13 lineup, we got a massive update to the video specs, which is Cinematic Mode. In this tutorial, we'll cover what this feature is and how to use it.

Man Taking a Video on Phone - Available From Envato Elements

What Is Cinematic Mode?

Cinematic mode is the video equivalent of the Portrait mode that was introduced a few years back. Portrait mode allowed users to achieve a bokeh effect, a shallow depth of field that let you blur the background of your photos. Cinematic Mode allows us to achieve the same shallow depth of field, as well as adding focus transitions for a cinematic grade look.

Before We Get Started

While you can edit cinematic mode footage on some of the older models, only the latest line of iPhones can capture footage with Cinematic mode. So head over and get the latest version of iOS and use an iPhone that supports recording in Cinematic mode. Here's the list of devices that you can use:

  • iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 13 mini
Although this tutorial focuses on iPhone 13, Cinematic mode is also available on the newly launched iPhone 14.

Recording in Cinematic Mode

  1. Open the Camera app, and then swipe until you find Cinematic mode.
  2. Tap the arrow  in landscape mode to show the adjustment options you have available:
    • Tap the Depth Control button ; you can drag the slider to choose the depth of field that suits the shot.
    • Tap the 1x button  on iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max to switch to Telephoto (the other phones in this lineup don't have this option). If you want to switch back to Wide, tap the button again and you're good to go.
    • Tap the exposure button , and then using the slider you can adjust your exposure to make your image brighter or darker.
    • Tap the flash button , and choose Auto, On, or Off.
  3. Select the record button  to start your recording. 
  4. To change your focus, tap a subject in the viewfinder. You can adjust your focus as you record. You can double-tap to set automatic focus tracking on a subject, and you can also touch and hold a point on the screen to lock the focus at a specific distance from the camera. These options are very helpful in getting the exact shot you're after.
  5. When you're done, hit the record button   again to stop filming.

Edit Video Taken in Cinematic Mode

When you're done filming, you can edit your footage in the Photos app on your iPhone 13 model or one of the other supported devices:

  • iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and later
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation and later)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation and later)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation and later) 
  • iPad mini (5th generation and later)

One of the more interesting options in cinematic mode is the ability to adjust the depth of field and the focus points after a video has been shot using the feature.

Editing Depth of Field for a Video 

  1. Using the Photos app, select the video you'd like to adjust.
  2. Tap Edit.
  3. Select the Depth Control button . Use the slider and adjust the depth of field. It's good to note that any changes made will apply to the whole clip.

Editing Focus Points for a Video 

  1. Just as before, find the clip in your photos and select it.
  2. When you select Edit, the video timeline will appear below your video. You'll see a bunch of yellow dots below the timeline. The dots show you the moments in your clip where the focus point changes.
  3. Next, use the timeline indicator button to scrub through your video. You'll see your focus point change as you move through your clip. This is marked with a yellow square, whereas other recognized people and objects are marked with white squares.
  4. By selecting a white square, you can change your focus point to that person/object. You're not limited to the white squares as your focus point, though—you can also select any object in the frame by tapping on it. A double-tap will set automatic focus track, and a press and hold on the screen will lock the focus to a set distance from the camera.
  5. You can use the focus button to switch between the app's automatic focus tracking and your own automatic focus points. This is a good tool to see if you like how your edit is coming along.
  6. Keep scrubbing through your footage and repeat the steps, and you're done. If you are unhappy with any focus point transitions, you can delete them easily by touching and holding the yellow dot until a delete option appears.

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