Apple iPhone 12 With 5G Could Help Filmmaking "Change Dramatically"

Apple Announcement - Iphone 12pro
Courtesy of Apple

Since the start of the pandemic, Hollywood has shifted toward more remote methods of working. Today's announcements from Apple could only help accelerate these possibilities from production to post and VFX.

On Tuesday, Apple announced the iPhone 12, its first iPhone line with 5G capabilities (Verizon made a related announcement of a growing 5G network) and a list of new features. At the high end, the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max were unwrapped with capabilities from Dolby Vision support to an integrated Lidar scanner. It's new still and video camera system was introduced with a wider view, longer focal lengths and a new Apple ProRAW format.

"Traditional filmmaking workflows will change dramatically as 5G access will begin to eliminate the need for shuttle drives" for sound and picture media, suggests Michael Cioni, senior vp innovation at Frame.io, which develops cloud-based workflows for Hollywood.

He notes that the 5G iPhone could effectively become a "high speed link connecting on-set devices directly into post." Cioni explains, "This will be a gateway to eventually virtualize every device on set, even shooting original camera RAW files directly into the cloud," He adds that as emerging 5G networks become available, "over time, 5G will ultimately eliminate all data transfers and shipping as well as provide zero latency feedback for remote collaboration."

"The new iPhone with Lidar, HDR, and the other camera improvements is a visual effects artist’s dream," says Academy Award-winning VFX pro Ben Grossmann, who is CEO of Magnopus, an L.A. tech developer that worked with Jon Favreau to create the virtual production pipeline used to make The Lion King. "We used to go on movie sets to do all those things with separate pieces of hardware that could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars and would take weeks to process into something useable. The notion that you have them all combined in your pocket, with the onboard processing power like that, and a connection to cloud compute over a connection speed that used to cost us tens of thousands of dollars in our machine rooms? It’s a bit more futuristic than I’d thought possible in 2020."

Grossmann is encouraged that the new iPhone Pro features could also change how content is viewed during production. "As more and more of the story is told across digital and physical worlds, we can see this really putting visual effects into the camera in new ways, and putting the ability to see that world into more of the crew's hands," he projects. "On a movie set, we won’t have to all go look at the video feed to see what the camera is seeing. We can hold up our phones and look around to see the world we’re creating for a movie or a TV show, and let the cinematographer pick the best viewpoint to tell the story."

He admits that some of these technologies and tools, particularly 5G, have been "overhyped," but he sees the potential for this to change. "That's because no one could take them all together, in context, and experience the real value. Now that we’ve got a device with all that in one place and with an interface a child could use, I think we’ll start to realize that we can do things we never knew we needed before."

iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max will be available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB  starting at $999 and $1,099, respectively. The line also includes iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini, which start at $799 and $699. iPhone 12 will be available for preorder on Nov. 6, and release Nov. 13.