The stock Camera app found in iOS is decent enough. It’s great for the casual shooting of photos and videos, and more importantly, it’s easy to use and almost always works.
But just like there are dedicated photo apps for improving the quality of your photography, the same thing is true for videographers. If you’re looking to improve your iPhone or iPad videography skills, then look no further than FiLMiC Pro, a $9.99 universal app.
The “Pro” in FiLMiC Pro isn’t some arbitrary nomenclature tacked on just because it sounds good. This is a professional video app containing features normally found on standalone cameras. Let’s have a look at the interface and then consider 15 of my favorite features.
The FiLMiC Pro interface is chock full of settings and features. Many of the tools available are hidden behind menus in an effort to keep the interface simple and focused. Here’s a look at a few of the basic things that you should know about the interface before getting started.
The settings gear, located to the left of the shutter button, lets you access settings for features like resolution, frame rate, audio, etc. Settings is filled to the brim with additional features to customize the app to your liking.
Manual control sliders
There are all sorts of manual control sliders available for various features in FiLMiC Pro. Sliders exist for focus, ISO, tint, white balance, LED flash intensity, shutter speed, and more. Sliders are generally accessible by tapping and holding on a button associated with the slider. For example, tap and hold on the focus button or reticle to reveal its associated manual control slider.
Those are just a handful of the basic interface elements that you should become familiar with. FiLMiC Pro is a very deep videography app, so play around with it and see what you can discover. Let’s continue and talk about 15 of my favorite features.
Separate focus and exposure reticles
This is a fairly basic feature, and the stock Camera app in iOS does have the ability to set and lock both exposure and focus. Still, it’s nice to have two separate reticles dedicated for each task.
You can easily move and lock both reticles independently of one another (just tap to lock), which lends more fine-tuned control overall. Also, there’s the ability to lock either setting using dedicated buttons in the bottom left-hand corner of the app’s interface.
Speaking of focus, FiLMiC Pro lets you pull off an impressive rack focus with ease. A rack focus is the practice of changing the focus of your lens while shooting video. It’s a good way to switch focus between a foreground object and a background object in a single take. It’s possible to pull off a similar effect with the stock Camera app, but it’s much easier to do so in FiLMiC Pro thanks to built-in pull points.
To access the focus slider, just tap and hold on the focus reticle, and it will appear on the left side of the interface. You can use the focus reticle icon on the slider to change focus, but the real benefits occur when you establish two pull points. The pull points are the two lines that rest horizontally on the slider. By adjusting those two pull points, you can set in and out points for focus pulling. Once the pull points are set, tap on either point to create a smooth rack focus transition between the two.
Variable speed slider
To enhance the rack focus ability, FiLMiC Pro includes a handy variable speed slider that lets you adjust the speed of the transition between pull points. The variable speed slider is hidden out of the way, but a simple right-swipe on the focus slider reveals it. Adjust the variable speed slider up or down to control the speed of the transition between pull points.
Lock white balance, adjust temperature and tint
By tapping the white balance button in the bottom left-hand corner of the FiLMiC Pro interface, one can easily lock white balance. This can be combined with a grey card to set accurate white balance in almost any lighting condition. But not only that, you can tap and hold the white balance button to reveal the white balance slider, which allows you to manually adjust color temperature using Kelvin values. In addition, a new tint option is also revealed for quickly changing the tint of a scene on the fly.
Record in 4K at 100Mbps
The stock Camera app limits the iPhone 6s bitrate when shooting 4K video to around 50Mbps. When shooting 1080p30 video, the bitrate is (unsurprisingly) even lower. FiLMiC Pro, on the other hand, gives you more control over bitrate values. For example, it’s possible to shoot 4K video on an iPhone 6s at 100Mbps, and 1080p30 video at 50Mbps.
To adjust the bitrate within FiLMiC Pro, tap the settings gear, and tap the Resolution section. When you factor in things like compression, differences may be hard to notice, but it’s nonetheless a nice area to have a say in.
Set frame rate
You can set the frame rate used within the stock Camera app, but your choices are limited. Along with that, you actually have to exit the app and delve into iOS’ preferences just to find the frame rate setting.
As you might expect, FiLMiC Pro features a wider variety of frame rate settings to choose from within the FrameRate section of its settings, and these can be adjusted without leaving the app. FiLMiC Pro defaults to a cinematic frame rate of 24fps instead of the 30fps setting of the stock Camera app.
Change aspect ratio
…and it just keeps going. Yes, you can even change the aspect ratio within FiLMiC Pro. Tap the settings gear and select Resolution to find aspect ratio options. You can choose between 16:9, 17:9, 1:1 for square Vine-friendly video, 2.59:1, 2.39:1, 2.2:1, and 1.66:1.
Change digital zoom speed and zoom targets
Traditionally, it’s not a great idea to incorporate digital zoom into your workflow, as it results in reduced image quality. Optical zoom, the type of zoom that uses the lens instead of software, is by far the more desirable type of zoom. That said, there may still be occasions where you wish to incorporate zoom into your project for creative reasons, and if digital zoom is the only option at your disposal, then that’s what you’ll have to use.
To access digital zoom, tap the action slider button in the upper left-hand corner to reveal additional options. From there, tap the Zoom button in the upper right-hand corner. Use the + button to zoom in and the – button to zoom out.
The great thing about FiLMiC Pro is that it will let you know when you’ve zoomed far enough to causes substantial image degradation. The bar next to the zoom levels will change from green (safe) to red (unsafe) as you zoom in.
You can set zoom targets by tapping one of the three target points while at the desired zoom level. This allows you to smoothly zoom between two values with the press of a button. To adjust the speed of the zoom using the variable speed slider, tap and hold the zoom button within the action slider in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
Adjusting shutter speed
You can adjust the shutter speed within FiLMiC Pro by tapping and holding on the ISO reticle. This will reveal the ISO slider, which functions similarly to the focus slider that we covered earlier.
You’ll notice three buttons next to the ISO slider. The middle button, the shutter speed button, allows you to adjust the camera’s shutter speed. As a general rule, shutter speed should be double the current frame rate, so if you’re shooting 24FPS, you’ll want the shutter speed to be 48. For creative reasons, however, you may wish to change the shutter speed to a different value.
Adjust the LED flash intensity
If you tap and hold on the lightbulb icon within the action slider, you’ll notice a new slider dedicated to the LED flash intensity. This is an awesome feature to use if you only need subtle lighting, or if you wish to adjust the intensity of the flash to garner the desired exposure. In all, FiLMiC Pro’s LED flash intensity slider allows you to maneuver between four grades of light.
Pause and resume recordings
Sadly, there’s no way to pause and resume recordings with the stock Camera app. As it stands now, you’re forced to create different files when stopping video using the stock Camera.
With FiLMiC Pro, you can enable the Stitch feature to make it possible to pause and resume in-progress recordings. Simply tap the settings gear, select Device, and enable the Stitch Recorded Footage switch. Such a feature makes it easy to shoot one continuous video, while incorporating creative jump cuts within the recording.
Once Stitch Recorded Footage is enabled, you’ll notice a slight change to the record button in the bottom right-hand corner of the interface. You can now pause and resume in-progress recordings without creating a new file. To end a recording, use a tap and hold gesture on the record button.
Having audio meters presents another advantage over the stock Camera app for those serious about video. You can use the audio meters to monitor microphone input for either the iPhone’s built-in mic, or an external Lightning-enabled microphone. Having audio meters lets you visually monitor audio input to make sure it’s not too quiet or too loud.
Advanced audio settings
Speaking of microphones, FiLMiC Pro lets you choose from any of the three microphones on the iPhone to capture sound. Within the settings, tap the Audio section, and you’ll find the ability to switch between the iPhone’s bottom, front, or back microphone. Talk about granular control!
Additionally, FiLMiC Pro lets you record uncompressed audio with up to a 96 kHz sample rate for external Lightning-enabled microphones like the Apogee MiC 96k.
Finally, if it’s your desire, you can even disable the microphone altogether and just capture video.
Hiding the interface
Depending on the application, you may wish to use an external display hooked up via Apple’s Lightning Digital AV Adapter. For example, I’ve connected my Atomos Ninja Assassin external monitor to my iPhone via HDMI. FiLMiC Pro contains a Tap To Hide Interface preference within the Devices section of its settings, which lets you disable on-screen display information. That allows you to mirror a clean video feed from your iPhone without any overlays on screen to an external monitor.
Although there are many additional features that I could talk about, the last one that we’ll discuss in this post is the ability to save and recall presets. For an app this deep with so many configuration options, it’s imperative to be able to quickly save and recall favorite settings. You can do this within the Presets section of the app’s preferences.
FiLMiC Pro isn’t for everyone. For instance, if you wish to shoot vertical videos, then you’ll need to look elsewhere. For that matter, if you wish to shoot still images, you’ll have to look towards another app as well. FiLMiC Pro is built with one primary thing in mind: creating great looking videos.
You’ll also need to utilize iTunes File Sharing to save footage directly from your iPhone to your computer. That’s because additional compression may be introduced when saving footage to your camera roll, or when simply using iOS’ native share sheet functionality. In my experience, I’ve found that, despite the inconvenience, it’s much better to use the iTunes File Sharing to maintain original image fidelity.
A ridiculously deep app
As you can see, FiLMiC Pro is a crazy deep app with tons of settings and features for videographers that require more than the stock Camera app can offer. At $9.99, it’s not cheap, but if you’re truly serious about making video content with the iPhone or iPad, it’s an app that you should absolutely have in your arsenal.