The filming capability of the iPhone is getting better and better. The quality is getting good enough to do some serious projects with it cheaply. But the right tool for the job is not the built-in software for filming. It’s using an app called FiLMIC Pro that is available in the App Store. You will even be able to make high-quality films like this one.
Here are some of the reasons we are going to take a closer look at FiLMiC Pro
- The ability to lock down things like focus, white balance, and exposure
- Three exposure/focus modes
- Frame rates from 1-30 fps
- Four resolutions
- Framing guide overlays
- Production slates
Ok, so let’s see what this app can do.
Focus and Exposure
The iPhone camera has the annoying ability to “chase” the target for a crisp and in-focus image. Unfortunately, iPhone does this rather often. So with no way of locking the focus on the object you want to be sharp, the camera might decide to start to hunt for focus at any time. Not very professional looking. There are two ways of locking focus in FiLMiC Pro. You can set a reticle either a single, where both focus and exposure are fixed at the point at the reticle. Or double, where you have two reticles to be able both focus and exposure separately. So by using two fingers, you can set a point to focus on, and another to set the exposure.
You can lock the focus, white balance and exposure by pressing one of the four buttons on the lower part of the screen. To set the white balance, just make sure the exposure reticle is on a white or gray object that’s illuminated with the leading light, then lock it with the white balance lock button.
You can set the frame rate between 1-30 frames per seconds. It’s easy to match frame rate to other footage filmed with other cameras or to get a specific look. If you set the framerate to 25 frames/sec or lower, you can set the video bitrate to FiLMiC Quality (up to 16 Mbps) or FiLMiC Extreme (up to 24 Mbps). When choosing Extreme, you get the following warning.
There are four different video quality options to choose from:
- FiLMiC Extreme (24 Mbps)
- FiLMiC Quality (up to 16 Mbps)
- Apple standard (default when using 30 fps)
- Economy Rate (up to 8 Mbps)
Update: Got a friendly tweet from the makers of the program, pointing out that on the 4S at 1080p the encoding options are 16,24,32, and 48mbps. That’s higher bitrate than the venerable Canon 5D Mark II!
The app provides guides when filming. Nothing of what you film changes, it’s there for you to be able to make sure you’re inside the aspect you need.
Super 35 Matte
When activating Super 35 Matte, all the frame guides are disabled. This puts black borders top and bottom, so you get the Super 35 aspect ratio. You can do this quickly in postproduction, but it’s nice that it’s available.
The app has a number of export options.
You probably want to edit the video before publishing, so the FTP and Dropbox option is especially welcome.
Try to use a tripod or something to make the camera stable. Don’t pan too fast. The camera suffers from rolling shutter problems, so camera shakes, or fast panning makes that very obvious.
The app is a nice with a lot of power for such a basic camera. The price for the app is cheap, so there is no reason not to get it. Highly recommended!