Apple and Film Making: How the Tech Giant Entered the Movie Industry

Apple and Film Making: How the Tech Giant Entered the Movie Industry

3rd Oct 2022

As a company, Apple has always pushed the envelope for innovation. The tech giant focuses on becoming an all-around brand, offering an encompassing experience in the way customers use its products and services. For one, Apple’s flagship phone, the iPhone, continues to elevate the quality of cameras for mobile photography as it can now shoot in 4K and cinematic mode.

Apple has also solidified its entry into the movie industry with CODA. This movie, an Apple TV+ exclusive release, broke records and changed the movie industry by taking home the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Troy Kotsur, and Best Adapted Screenplay at the 94th Academy Awards.

But how else did Apple enter the movie industry?

Apple's Key Moments in the Film Industry

1. Apple launched Apple TV+ in 2019

Apple announced the launch of Apple TV+ in March 2019 and officially launched it several months later on November 1. Apple TV+ is an all-original video subscription service for Apple users and aims to provide a venue for today's most inventive storytellers. Apple TV+ offers top stories, shows, and documentaries from the best and brightest content creators.

Subscribers may watch ad-free and on-demand content both online and offline. The software is pre-installed on most Apple devices, including the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, and Mac.

Apple TV+ originals are subtitled and dubbed in approximately 40 languages for audiences worldwide, including Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (SDH) or closed captions. Audio descriptions for Apple TV+ episodes and movies are available in eight languages.

2. Exclusive release of award-winning Apple TV+ movie CODA

After CODA’s worldwide premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 28, 2021, Apple acquired the rights to this award-winning film for $25 million. CODA, an Apple movie, was released simultaneously on Aug. 13, 2021, both in theaters and on Apple TV+. Since its acquisition, CODA has gone on to win many more awards, the most notable being Best Picture at the 94th Academy Awards in 2022.

CODA also set records as the first film with a predominantly deaf cast. Previous awards given to this Apple original film during the 2021 Sundance Film Festival include the Directing Award, the Audience Award, the Special Jury Award for Ensemble Cast, and the Grand Jury Prize.

3. Acquisition of TV and movie rights for global distribution

In 2018, Apple acquired the rights to two family-focused movies, namely Wolfwalkers from the Cartoon Saloon studio and The Elephant Queen. Apple's acquisitions aim to make these films available for global consumption, specifically to Apple TV+ users.

4. Signed deals with entertainment companies

Again, in 2018, Apple signed a multi-year agreement with New York-based entertainment company A24 to create and produce films for the company. During this time, Apple was ramping up its efforts to penetrate the original content industry.

Award-winning films Room, Amy, Lady Bird, and Moonlight, which won Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor in the 89th Academy Awards in 2017, were all distributed by A24.

5. Introduction of "Cinematic Mode"

Known for its lineup of amazing cameras, Apple has further pushed the limit of mobile cameras with the introduction of "cinematic mode." Apple's Cinematic Mode boasts the following features.

  • Apple's Neural Engine for machine learning work
  • Accelerometers for tracking and motion
  • An upgraded wide-angle lens and stabilized sensor
  • Subject recognition and tracking
  • Focus locking
  • Rack focusing, which involves moving the focus from one subject to another in an organic-looking way
  • Image overscan and in-camera stabilization
  • Synthetic bokeh (lens blur)
  • Post-shot editing that lets you alter your focus points even after shooting

While developing the Portrait Lighting Feature, Apple's design team studied classic portrait artists such as Warhol and Avedon, painters such as Rembrandt, and Chinese brush portraiture. The team used a similar strategy to develop Cinematic Mode. They also spoke with some of the world's greatest cinematographers and camera operators and viewed films from different eras.

6. Produced a short film using the iPhone 13 Pro

The Comeback is a 23-minute interplanetary short film by Chinese director Zhang Meng in collaboration with Apple and TBWAMedia Arts Lab. The film is about an ambitious director who returns to his village, where his father lives alone. The villagers manage to convince the budding director to make a film during his stay to attract tourists.

Some plots include landing on Mars, a donkey changing into a unicorn, and more. The film's production restores hope to the villagers and the protagonist who remembers why filmmaking is special to him.

The movie was Apple's 2022 Chinese New Year campaign and was completely filmed using the iPhone 13 Pro.

Apple's Cinematic Vision

Apple continues to raise the bar and explore the film industry, landing on the movie watchlist of global viewers. From film rights to actual cinematography, it seems there's nothing this tech giant can't do. With the continuous innovation of its products, you can be sure to see more Apple films on the big screen soon.

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