Review: FiLMiC Pro (iOS App)

This post is part of the series: HDSLR Videographer’s Virtual Gear Bag.

FiLMiC Pro ($3.99) by Cinegenix, LLC is a video recording app, that speaks the language of film-making. I’ve included this app because sometimes, you just need an extra camera. While the iPhone is no DSLR, if you have at least an iPhone 4 you get a capable HD video camera built-in. The default camera app that Apple provides is capable, but in typical Apple-style, options are limited. And if you are serious about the movies you make, things like bit-rate, frame-rate and framing mean a lot to you. That’s why FiLMiC shines so brightly. More after the break.If you are going to use your iPhone as an extra video camera, you have to accept some shortcomings. First, you are going to have a lot of rolling shutter if you are trying to capture action. Second, while it can capture in low light, low-light recordings will have a lot of noise. Finally, I’ve found that footage quality suffers a lot due to the iPhone’s compression, especially when put beside a DSLR – but, that is to be expected from a phone camera. Nonetheless, if you choose your shots well, you should be able to overcome some of these issues, or at least exploit them.

The capture screen is pretty simple. I’ve opted for a double-reticule setup, one for focus, the other for exposure. You’ll notice that the corresponding buttons at the bottom are red – that’s because I tapped them, to lock the focus and exposure settings. I’ve also opted to include an on-screen sound-meter. The other red button (bottom right) is the record button – it has a slate image superimposed over it, indicating that I’ve opted to present a slate at the start of my video.

If you press the little “i” button, you’ll get this nifty help screen:

The following images are snaps of the settings screens so you can see what kind of things you can tweak. Many, many more options than the default camera app. On this screen, notice the ability to select FPS, including traditional cinematic 24fps!

On the next screen, notice the framing guide settings. You can choose between 2.35:1, 4:3, or 16:9. Also notice the Super 35 Matte option! Choosing that will override the framing guide settings.

Here, you can see where you can access audio and video quality options. Something of interest: the Apple Standard option maxes out at 12 Mbps. There are two higher options (16 Mbps, and 24 Mbps) as well as a lower, 8 Mbps option. For audio, the choices are simply, uncompressed, or compressed.

Here is a video I captured during a music video shoot. It wasn’t captured for production footage, just for personal documentary purposes. You can forward to about the 3./4 point to get to the “Action” – also you will notice, that there is some “skip” in the video – I think it may be an issue with the phone’s processing.

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All in all, if you really need another camera viewpoint, and you are out of “real cameras,” an iPhone with FiLMiC is a solid option, given the proper scene setup.

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