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'Crazy Rich Asians' director shows off iPhone XS Max video prowess in short film

A new short film shot entirely on iPhone XS Max by "Crazy Rich Asians" director Jon M. Chu highlights the handset's video creation potential.

Chu iPhone XS Max



Prior to an official launch this Friday, Chu was granted access to Apple's flagship smartphone to shoot a special project in partnership with Wired. Titled Somewhere, the short film offers a glimpse into the strenuous workout routine of B-Boy star Luigi Rosado, who rehearses his latest dance moves in solitude out of a small garage in Los Angeles.

Without special hardware or post-processing software, Chu was able to capture the essence of Rosado's dedication to the craft of dancing through a variety of shots that typically pose problems for small format cameras.

"I had literally zero equipment," Chu said. "I see a lot of samples of iPhone videos, and sometimes they use different lenses or professional lights. I didn't have any of that."

All shots were accomplished in 4K without gimbals, dollies or cranes, meaning Chu had to rely solely on iPhone's set of built-in stabilization features. For 2018, Apple's dual camera system features optical image stabilization on both lenses, making for smooth recordings even while moving. In one shot, Chu put the stabilizers to work by running toward Rosado's garage.

Chu added that he "wanted to stretch it in a harsh environment," so he opted to shoot the film at night under fluorescent light. The bulbs failed to present issues with iPhone's color accuracy, though pulsing is evident during slo-mo scenes. Certain shots, including a top-down angle captured by balancing iPhone on piece of wood hanging from the ceiling, were captured at 240 frames per second.



iPhone's color accuracy, widely touted by Apple during last week's onstage unveiling and in subsequent online promotional material, impressed the director. While the outside of Rosado's garage is almost enveloped in darkness, the inside is bristling with small pockets of vibrant color.

"You can see the colors, they really pop. I did some shots in the daytime that didn't make it into the movie, and the daylight images felt a little cooler," Chu said. "But shooting at night, the video warms up. You can adjust the colors however you want, but I was shooting with the defaults."

Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has over the past few days become an iPhone cheerleader on social media, shared the Wired special via Twitter on Wednesday.