Steven Soderbergh wants to shoot only on Apple iPhones from now on

“A year ago, Steven Soderbergh was putting the finishing touches on ‘Logan Lucky,’ but had yet to reemerge publicly from his four-year filmmaking retirement,” Eric Kohn reports for IndieWire. “Now, with two seasons of ‘The Knick’ behind him, he’s returned from the television arena with a whole new ethos about making movies.”

“A few weeks before premiering his new thriller ‘Unsane’ at the Berlin International Film Festival, he surfaced at Sundance, the festival that put him on the map 16 years ago with ‘sex, lies and videotape,’ keeping a lower profile,” Kohn reports. “Following last year’s ‘Logan Lucky,’ his latest self-financed feature is the latest example of his desire to move beyond the studio arena for good. ‘I can’t imagine a scenario in which I’d get back and do that,’ he said in an interview on Main Street.”

“Soderbergh shot the whole movie [‘Unsane]]on an iPhone. While Baker has said he used a phone instead of traditional cameras due to budgetary constraints, Soderbergh said he was so impressed with the quality of iPhone cinematography that he would likely continue to use phones to shoot his movies going forward.” Kohn reports. “The filmmaker… found that the iPhone offered unparalleled quality. ‘People forget, this is a 4k capture,’ said Soderbergh, who was long a passionate advocate for the high-end RED cameras. ‘I’ve seen it 40 feet tall. It looks like velvet. This is a gamechanger to me.’ Asked if he would commit exclusively to shooting on iPhones going forward, he replied, ‘I’d have to have a pretty good reason not to be thinking about that first… There’s a philosophical obstacle a lot of people have about the size of the capture device. I don’t have that problem. I look at this as potentially one of the most liberating experiences that I’ve ever had as a filmmaker, and that I continue having. The gets that I felt moment to moment were so significant that this is, to me, a new chapter.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Revolutionary.

Steven Soderbergh shoots feature film on his Apple iPhone – July 19, 2017
Alfa Romeo’s new car ad shot with Apple’s new iPhone 7 Plus – October 11, 2016
Pixar’s John Lasseter says iPhone, GoPro could be next film breakthroughs – May 13, 2015
The feature film that blew away everyone at Sundance was shot on an Apple iPhone 5s – January 29, 2015
Apple iPhone 6’s new camera could forever change filmmaking – September 10, 2014
iPhone used to record parts of Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’ feature film (with video) – October 22, 2011
First ever cinema-standard film shot solely with iPhone premieres – January 11, 2011

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “BD” for the heads up.]


  1. I appreciate the sentiment but it means shooting something close to what you will be releasing as the bit depth ain’t the same as pro cameras and if you need to get into serious color correction there ain’t much headroom to save you (in the highlights and shadows). Even with iOS apps like Filmic Pro. Also I have a Sony A7S II with has amazing low light performance with a full frame sensor that currently no regular pro camera does. It also has more bit depth protection and better S-Log gamma choices. With current noise reduction such as Neat Video provides though you can get away often with murder.

    That said I have shot some car interiors with an iPhone at 4K 24fps with FilmicPro and they looked pretty darn good.

    1. This. iPhone shoots a pretty but insanely compressed h.264 (maybe h.265 now?). There is literally nowhere to go in the color room.

      He did not say he wants to shoot only on iPhones, he said he’d need a good reason not to think about shooting with a phone. He has one.

        1. Quite a handsome fellow i might say !
          (Ummm… in your deluded universe do all presidents worldwide have the same mannerism? The presidential mannerism that’s been written in The Book. 😉 )

          Another example of shallow, prejudice, pseudo elitist liberal propaganda… ” oh i dont like how his eyebraws move… he is a bad president..bad,bad..bad… “…. grow up !

          This man gets shit done .. unlike THE talker who had no walk. … the Puppet !

  2. for most feature film work, its more about the glass then the camera. the iPhone is a great pocket cam but it will be a bit longer before the iPhone can “virtualize” a panavision lens

    1. Anyone who has ever worked on a movie will have seen how the lenses are treated with extreme reverence. The director of photography carefully selects the optimum set of lenses to be used for that movie. Each shot will have the ideal prime lens fitted to the camera – zoom lenses are seldom used in movie making.

      Lenses are not merely selected according to their focal length, but also how wide the aperture can go ( to throw the background out of focus while keeping the subject pin sharp ), but there are a lot of subtle reasons why the image from one particular lens is preferred over another with a similar focal length and aperture. People who try to explain those subtle differences sometimes end up using similar language to wine experts or HiFi enthusiasts.

      I find it hard to understand how a movie maker is going to set out to make all their future movies with just that one lens fitted onto an iPhone unless it’s regarded as an exercise in working within a limitation, much like people who shoot three minute sequences in one shot, or entire movies taking place within one room.

      I know there are ways of adapting external lenses to work on iPhones, but the basic premise with high quality lenses is to make the light travel through the smallest number of pieces of glass to achieve the desired optical result. Having an external lens assembly in front of the built-in lens assembly of an iPhone goes against that principle.

      It might be possible to massively modify an iPhone by removing the lens so that external specialist lenses could project the image directly onto it’s sensor, but I’ve never heard of that being done and I don’t know whether it would even be feasible.

      I’m not in any way knocking the quality of the movies made by iPhones, but movie making usually requires much more versatility than a fixed lens camera can provide.

      1. I agree with everything you state but then ‘professional’ can also be too restricting and predictable results wise.
        MDN’s headline of course is ridiculously partial. He didn’t say ‘only’ iPhone cameras in every shooting situation.
        Consistency of output is fine…..until you want to shake things up a bit.

      2. I think I’ll defer to the actual moviemaker, Steven Soderbergh, on what’s possible and preferable to shoot with, he just made a feature film that way. We can judge iPhone filmography on the basis of what is actually produced, like his upcoming “Unsane” film, instead of generalized speculation.

        1. Alternatively we can wait and see how many other movie directors follow suit.

          When buying an entire iPhone costs a tiny fraction of the cost of just hiring either a professional movie camera or even just one lens, there are massive budget savings to me made for those who choose to go down that route and budgets are mostly very tight these days, therefore cheaper working practices are obviously advantageous.

          We know Soderbergh was able to shoot a movie on an iPhone, but it remains to be seen how widespread this technique is used or whether it remains as something of a niche activity. Much as I would like to see iPhones used in this way, I think it’s going to be uncommon except for situations such as when an ultra-small or ultra lightweight camera is required.

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