Behind the scenes of Apple’s powder-packed snowboarding video

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Exclusive: Videographer behind latest Apple ad talks shooting snowboarding on iPhone
Apple's latest "Shot on iPhone" ad may be its most impressive yet.
Screenshot: Apple

Next time you’re shooting an iPhone video, be glad you’re not shooting in waist-deep snow in freezing conditions. That was the challenge posed to Joe Carlino, the intrepid videographer behind Apple’s latest “Shot on iPhone” promo.

The ad, which dropped yesterday, shows four pro snowboarders doing their thing in the wilds of British Columbia. Cult of Mac spoke with Carlino about how the ad came about, and the pros and cons of shooting on iPhone in inhospitable conditions.

Joe Carlino
Joe Carlino in heavier camera, non-iPhone times.
Photo: Joe Carlino

“Lately I’ve been making content with ESPN X Games the last two years that is 100% shot on iPhone,” Carlino said.

The great thing about shooting on iPhone in this context is how quick and easy it is. The small form factor devices make it easy to capture action footage that’s good enough to be used on both social media and TV broadcasts.

“[Last fall], a friend of mine who works internally at Apple reached out to me about doing a full-on backcountry powder video,” he continued.

The Apple snowboarding shoot took place in the backcountry of the British Columbia Interior at the iconic Baldface Lodge. It involved both past and present Winter X Games snowboarding competitors Red Gerard, Danny Davis, Kimmy Fasani, and Ben Ferguson.

Filming took place over four days at the end of December. Carlino was joined by another videographer, a stills photographer, and someone to handle production and editing.

Snow during the Powder ad
The amount of snow during the shoot proved a big headache.
Photo: Joe Carlino

Snowboarding for Apple: Shooting in the cold is snow joke

“The most difficult challenge we ran into while shooting the ‘Powder’ video was the constant snow that was falling all week,” Carlino noted. “We are talking about one to two feet a day. [It] just kept stacking up. We were constantly struggling to physically get into locations. Some shots I was over waist-deep trying to find the right angle.”

At times, he estimated the temperatures got down to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

While iPhones don’t offer all the bells and whistles of a high-end camera, it did make the shoot a whole lot easier than it might otherwise have been.

“Typically, we would be hiking around with 40 to 50 pounds of camera gear,” Carlino said. “On this shoot we each took two phones, a neutral density filter [due to the brightness of the snow], and a lightweight Movi Freefly gimbal. [That] made our lives very easy … The biggest advantage is the weight and size of the phone. It’s so easy to snowboard down with the riders to a jump or cliff and get set up fast.”

Carlino was particularly impressed by the iPhone’s ability to record 4K 24p footage for snowboarding footage. The iPhone 11 Pro also offers a level of waterproofing that makes it ideal for this kind of shoot. “I don’t think my normal RED camera could survive” in those conditions, he said.

The Apple snowboarding footage was shot using the FilmicPro app. This $15 (plus in-app purchases) app gives videographers more control than the usual Camera app, such as command over focus, exposure, white balance, and frame rate.

What do you think of the ‘Powder’ video? Let us know in the comments below.