iOS 17 Enables Cinematic Mode Video Editing in Third-Party Apps

As outlined in a WWDC 2023 video, iOS 17 includes a new Cinematic API that enables developers to support Cinematic mode video playback and editing in third-party apps.

Cinematic Mode iPhone Feature
"The Cinematic framework enables you to add professional-level editing and playback features to movies, recorded with the Camera app's Cinematic mode, to your apps," says Apple's developer documentation. "These are the same features used in applications such as Final Cut Pro, Photos, and iMovie. For example, this enables your apps to change focus distance and aperture in movies, creating a bokeh effect, even after recording."

Apple offers Cinematic mode in the Camera app on iPhone 13 models and newer. Inspired by professional Hollywood films, the feature allows users to record video with a shallow depth of field and automatic focus changes between subjects.

Cinematic mode uses a technique called "rack focus" to seamlessly shift the focus from one subject to another. It does this by locking the focus on the subject in a scene and blurring the background to achieve depth of field. If you subsequently move the camera to center on a new subject, or a new subject enters the scene, Cinematic mode automatically switches the focal point to this new subject and blurs out the background.

For more details, read How to Shoot Video in Cinematic Mode on iPhone 13 and iPhone 14.

Related Roundups: iOS 17, iPadOS 17

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Top Rated Comments

Apple Fan 2008 Avatar
14 months ago
Apple seems to be opening things up more, hope this trend continues.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
lazyrighteye Avatar
14 months ago

Remember the big to-do they made about Cinematic Mode in the keynote when the iPhone 13 was introduced? I wonder how many people have used it.
It's a neat feature that I'm glad is available, but one I seldom use.
1) I honestly forget about it and 2) that feature doesn't work so well from the soccer pitch sidelines. ?
But when I have used it, in more controlled settings (where subjects offer the depth of field for the feature to work properly), it's pretty sweet. Especially for a built-in feature of a camera on a phone.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Expos of 1969 Avatar
14 months ago
Remember the big to-do they made about Cinematic Mode in the keynote when the iPhone 13 was introduced? I wonder how many people have used it.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HorstBockman Avatar
14 months ago
Focus/bokeh can be adjusted after the fact in "post", which means video recorded in Cinematic mode is in focus across the frame (to the extent possible). Selective blurring is then done computationally and reversibly.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ignatius345 Avatar
14 months ago

Focus/bokeh can be adjusted after the fact in "post", which means video recorded in Cinematic mode is in focus across the frame (to the extent possible). Selective blurring is then done computationally and reversibly.
But it's still kind of hacky and error-prone. Unlike "low-tech" bokeh which just involves focusing the light, this requires a ton of intepretation from the device. And it can easily get it wrong with stuff like frizzy hair in the foreground. It all looks impressive on a phone screen, but if you start getting in and looking a little closer it can get messy.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mr. Awesome Avatar
14 months ago

But it's still kind of hacky and error-prone. Unlike "low-tech" bokeh which just involves focusing the light, this requires a ton of intepretation from the device. And it can easily get it wrong with stuff like frizzy hair in the foreground. It all looks impressive on a phone screen, but if you start getting in and looking a little closer it can get messy.
True, but it's something that will only get better as the algorithms and networks improve, and overall it's just insanely impressive that you're even able to simulate this effect on a literal phone you carry in your pocket with a tiny little lens. The editing it in post is the cherry on top.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)