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Apple’s new shot-on-iPhone movie offers vertical take on classic film genres

Vertical videos on a TV screen or computer monitor may still cause a part of our brain to twitch in irritation, but the popularity of smartphone apps like Snapchat and TikTok, and the growing use of mobile video calls, have gently coached us into embracing the once-condemned format.

Even Apple has jumped on the bandwagon with the release this week of a movie that really makes the most of the alternative framing.

The nine-minute film (below) was made by Academy Award-winning director Damien Chazelle — best known for hits such as La La Land and Whiplash — using an iPhone 11 Pro, and released as part of Apple’s ongoing “Shot on iPhone” series.

“Watch as classic genres are flipped on their side, from action movies to silent films, spy flicks to westerns, reframing and modernizing the movie magic we know and love,” Apple said in a message posted with the video.

Shot on iPhone by Academy Award® Winner Damien Chazelle – Vertical Cinema

The tech giant also released a behind-the-scenes video (below) revealing how the director approached the project.

Making Vertical Cinema — Shot on iPhone by Academy Award® Winner Damien Chazelle

“Part of the fun of this was to try to think purely in terms of the vertical aspect ratio and what that does,” Chazelle said.

Costume designer and crew member April Napier adds, “You’re thinking about how things are moving in an elongated fashion — you’re not thinking about landscape, you’re not thinking about panorama.”

Stunt actor Tom McComas, who appears in the movie, said his scenes “worked really well in the vertical format.” And he’s right, in fact, as you might expect with an acclaimed director behind it, the entire movie makes full use of the format, using some clever framing to create powerful shots that really pull the viewer in.

Of course, the videos are more about promoting the iPhone 11 Pro rather than singing the praises of vertical video, with Apple noting that Chazelle made full use of the device’s extended dynamic range capabilities, video stabilization, and ultra-wide lens.

Apple has released a number of videos in its “Shot on ‌iPhone‌” series, though this latest effort is the first vertically shot movie in the collection.

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