Apple shot a five-hour film in one shot at the Hermitage on iPhone

Apple has released a large film lasting 5 hours 20 minutes, shot in one take. I will say this again: one take lasting 5 hours 20 minutes. Sounds like crazy! In a good way, of course.

The Hermitage Museum, with its 233 thousand square meters of space, hung and furnished with various works of art, was perfect for this film. There is no plot. Only the opportunity to touch the exhibits of the museum and examine them from those angles that are simply impossible in reality.

Just watch the trailer for this movie:

The director was Aksinya Gog. She emphasizes that the resulting film should rather be called a performance:

I would like to call this an experiment or even a performance, because literally until the moment we clicked the stop button, we did not fully understand what we would succeed.

Aksinya Gog



Preparation for filming began in August at the stage of selection of directors. Aksinya has already worked with large Russian museums like Peterhof. Therefore, the choice was obvious.

And if her work about Peterhof can be called a music video with assembly gluing, then when shooting “Hermitage. Shot on the iPhone 11 Pro ”was a completely different task.

The first and most important – the film will be shot in one take. Moreover, only one attempt is given. Re-shooting is not possible. This is not some kind of quirk, but a necessity: the Hermitage agreed to shoot only one day.

Apple shot a five-hour film in one shot at the Hermitage on iPhoneShot from the film The Hermitage. Shot on the iPhone 11 Pro. " Source: Apple

Any work done as part of the “Shot on iPhone” project is only partly advertising. The story, plot or artistic component comes to the fore. All these videos are united only by a tool – an iPhone. This shows that anyone can shoot a short film. Well, or a full meter. It is not so important to have professional cameras to make a masterpiece.

The iPhone was not connected to any additional power source. It only worked on its own battery. And that was another challenge. The technical director of the project Nikolay Pigarev talks about him:

First of all, I took the iPhone 11 Pro Max and put it on the window, he recorded 6 hours of video. I was delighted and thought that the job was done. It turned out that not everything is so simple – indicators during the tests constantly varied. Interestingly, such parameters as, for example, screen brightness, whether Bluetooth or Wi-Fi is turned on, did not affect the battery during shooting. So the only way to check how the iPhone would cope with our specific task is to accurately reproduce the recording with the given parameters. It turned out that exposure, auto stabilization, focus affect the battery much more.

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Nikolay Pigarev

Project Technical Director

At this point, it came to be understood that the standard camera application for shooting would not help:

The native iPhone application does not allow you to manually control the shooting settings. In particular, the auto exposure did not suit us, because each room is lit differently. When you enter the dark room in the auto exposure mode, the iPhone automatically tries to brighten everything, and the image becomes grainy, which did not suit us.

David Khaiznikov

Director of Photography

Having tried many ready-made solutions with the ability to manually configure the camera, the team realized that none of them was suitable. As a result, two weeks before the filming, they started working on their own application.


The terms of reference were written literally online. The team needed remote control of the camera functions. Firstly, you can’t always close the screen with your hands – from it the operator monitors the picture. Secondly, it’s very dangerous to touch the screen during such crucial shootings – you can inadvertently touch the mute button. And at one point the smartphone generally rises to the ceiling – a person simply will not fly behind it.

Apple shot a five-hour film in one shot at the Hermitage on iPhone

Of course, you can use a second iPhone to control. But there is a more convenient tool. They became the Apple Watch. The application created by the team was called Catch (a combination of the words Camera and Watch). At the time of filming, it weighed only 3.5 MB. Since the team did not stop developing it, now Catch weighs a little more – 8.5 MB.

There is another problem: the application must be from the App Store. And it should be approved by the store team, which also added complexity – after all, Apple itself was not involved in the development. That is, in fact, time was much less than two weeks.

Now the Catch interface is as simple as possible:

Apple shot a five-hour film in one shot at the Hermitage on iPhone

There are also additional settings where you can select the video resolution, frame rate, stabilization type, bit rate (up to 100 Mbps), audio format, video codec type. Here you can even come up with your own naming format for the resulting files.

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Here is the control with the Apple Watch:

Apple shot a five-hour film in one shot at the Hermitage on iPhone

Blue indicates the parameter that is controlled by the Digital Crown wheel right now.


December 16th. Monday. Although there are no visitors to the museum that day, this does not mean that it does not work. The script schedule was very strict – you can’t stay in the halls longer than a certain time.

It has been worked out several times already – during rehearsals and test runs, we accidentally did not have enough time for two hours. Apparently in a hurry. As a result, on the day of shooting there was already a detailed plan.

Three iPhones are fixed on a specially created mount. They already rested on a manual stabilizer.

The first iPhone is the main one. The second is for insurance, necessary in the event of an emergency. The third sends a playback to the director's iPad.

Apple shot a five-hour film in one shot at the Hermitage on iPhone

All the operators and participants in the process were dressed in black clothes, like a ninja. This was necessary to avoid reflections.

Apple shot a five-hour film in one shot at the Hermitage on iPhone

But it was not possible to avoid reflections everywhere:

We did not have the task of producing the perfect picture, the task was to show the possibility of new iPhones, to give them a real honest test, and all the shortcomings that the audience will be able to notice in the film (lighting fixtures in the frame, several reflections of the film crew in the surrounding objects) – all this once again proves that everything was for real, as in life.

Aksinya Gog


The scenario plan also did not always help. At a certain point, it turned out that the operator moved too slowly through the halls and, as a result, was delayed for 15 minutes. In case of being late it was possible not to get into the theater hall – its doors would simply be closed. It would be a fiasco and another disruption of plans – the Hermitage still lives its own life, which they were not going to change for the sake of some kind of film.

Apple shot a five-hour film in one shot at the Hermitage on iPhone

For the entire time of filming, the smartphone was discharged from one hundred to 19%. That is, almost a five and a half hour-long movie could well have lasted about an hour longer. In a sense, the film Hermitage. Shot on the iPhone 11 Pro ”really became an advertisement for the iPhone, perfectly illustrating how long the smartphone runs on a single battery charge.

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Even director Axinya Gogh admits that her film is unlikely to be watched the first time, so the film is divided into seven parts, the timing of which is noted in the annotation for the video on YouTube. But after a while you begin to get drawn into the smooth rhythm of the Hermitage.

I’m probably the only director in the world who claims that the film he created is not necessary to watch the whole thing. In fact, it consists of completely self-contained pieces. This is such a meditation that you can immerse yourself in at any moment, it will draw you in.

Aksinya Gog


Music played a big role here. She sets the pace and rhythm. Especially for the film, music was written by Russian composers Roman Litvinov (Mujuce), Anton Schwartz, Gabriel Prokofiev, Burago. And, of course, almost the central point is the live performance of Cyril Richter in the Hermitage Hall.

Apple shot a five-hour film in one shot at the Hermitage on iPhoneShot from the film The Hermitage. Shot on the iPhone 11 Pro. " Source: Apple

You can listen to your favorites in a special playlist in Apple Music:

"Hermitage. Shot on the iPhone 11 Pro "- an unprecedented project for Apple. This is a collaboration of a huge number of people – more than a hundred people took part in the filming, including actors and dancers. Behind the scenes were members of the film crew and post-production, choreographers, musicians.

None of the films shot as part of the Shot on iPhone project could boast of such proportions. This is almost an attempt to repeat Sokurov’s “Russian Ark”. Is that a movie is not fiction. And, rather, not even a film, but a performance.

To my question about the “Ark”, the participants in the filming process laughed and said that they had at least three times the time of Sokurov’s creation. Of course, this was said with respect to Alexander Nikolaevich.

Apple shot a five-hour film in one shot at the Hermitage on iPhone

"Hermitage. Shot on the iPhone 11 Pro "is very difficult to call advertising. The film, which emerged from the idea of ​​showing a mighty iPhone battery, has become something more. He became an entire movie tour of the great museum.

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Chief editor of the blogErika J. Wells .

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