Unsane – Insane iPhone Videography

I like the iPhone as an “all-in-one” media production device for mobile journalism and SoMe content creation, and wrote about the iPhone as a Camera a short while ago. I still got a bit surprised when seeing an entire feature film shot on an iPhone. Is the iPhone good enough for shooting a feature film?

Back in 2018, Steven Soderbergh produced the horror-thriller Unsane. The story is about a young lady who is stalked by a man. She ends up in a mental institution against her will. But is it for real, or is she suffering from delusions?

The movie is ok as entertainment for an evening, if You like thrillers with a scent of mystery and horror. But it isn’t going down in the history books. The most exciting thing about it is the technical stuff: It was shot entirely on an iPhone 7 Plus.

Compared to other movies, it’s quite evident that the iPhones camera has other characteristics. As an example, it’s difficult to get a nice background blur due to the iPhones small censor. So, everything in the image is (more or less) sharp, which results in images with lots of depth and information to relate to.

Soderbergh used, as far as I know, a couple of Moment lens adapters to shoot the movie. Despite this, a lot of shots are shot at a wider angle than the typical Hollywood movie. That means a lot for the images – the proportions look a bit distorted now and then.

So, it’s quite evident that the iPhones camera affects the aesthetics. But most of all, I think the aesthetics are a consequence of the time spent on shooting the movie: It only took ten days to shoot the entire movie… The light setup, for instance, is often inadequate, as shown in the clips below.

Sometimes, the framing is also a bit off, as shown in the stills below, where the actors eyes are placed right in the middle of the frame. I guess this is done on purpose, though.

However, what I noticed right away was the somewhat different format. I had expected a widescreen format, in order to give a cinematic feel. The iPhone shoots in 4K at a resolution of 3840 x 2160, giving a 16:9 format – the television standard. Soderbergh chose to screen Unsane in a 16:10 format (+/-), giving black bars on the sides. And that is in my opinion the primary reason that the movie lacks a bit of cinematic feel.

Steven Soderbergh's Unsane - A feature film shot on iPhone 7+

Anyways, enjoy it, and see what a pro can do in 10 days with an iPhone. I’m impressed:-)

What about You?

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