Hands-on with FiLMiC DoubleTake multi-cam for iPhone

DoubleTake selector
DoubleTake selector (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

The iPhone has long been a terrific everyday camera. Something amazing happens, your child, your pet, your significant other, the places you do, the things you see, and there's just nothing faster and more reliable in going from pocket to capture than the iPhone.

But, increasingly, the iPhone has also become something even Hollywood directors and cinematographers turn to capture video, not just in spaces too tight for traditional rigs, but now for entire films. Looking at you Steven Soderberg. Twice in a row.

While the built-in Camera app is great for capturing those everyday moments, Apple has deliberately kept it simple and focused — haha — on exactly that. For pros, they've made a slew of API — application programming interfaces — that developers can use to make more pro-centric apps.

We've seen it in photography with manual controls, RAW, and depth data. And we've seen it in video with rack focus and LOG.

And now we're seeing it again with Apple's new MultiCam API in iOS 13, and Filmic's new DoubleTake app.

DoubleTake for iPhone

DoubleTake interview

DoubleTake interview (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

So, yes, MultiCam will be coming to the flagship Filmic Pro app later this spring. For now, though, Filmic is putting it in its own, free app so everyone can just take it out and give it a whirl.

Because Apple requires that pretty much all iOS 13 iPhone apps support all iOS 13 iPhones, you can technically run DoubleTake on older model iPhones as well. But only in Single Take mode. Which makes it just a really nice, visual single-camera selector.

To use Multicam, though, you're going to need at least an iPhone XS, XS Max, or XR. To use it with the ultra-wide camera, you're going to need an iPhone 11. And to choose between 4 cameras, the most Apple puts on a single device right now, you're going to need an iPhone 11 Pro.

With that, you can tap the camera selector to see a grid of all the cameras available to you — wide and selfie on the XR, wide, tele, and selfie on the XS and XS Max, wide, ultra-wide and selfie on the 11, and wide, ultra-wide, tele, and selfie on the 11. Pic the two you want to start with and you're good to go.

The first mode lets you capture video from both cameras at the same time as separate H.264 .MOV files. It shoots at an impressively high bitrate 1080p at 24, 25, or 30 frames per second. And, in extended dynamic range.

Why no 4K60? 1080 30 is Apple's current limit of the Multicam API. Hopefully, that'll continue to grow as Apple continues to grow A-series processing power.

Multicam'ing it up

DoubleTake PiP

DoubleTake PiP (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

The first camera you select is shown full screen. The second camera as a PIP. You can't pinch to change the size of the PIP, but you can move it around the screen, hide it, or take it full screen if you want to do something like tap to focus, adjust exposure, or lock focus.

If speed to output is more important to you than flexibility in edit, you can also choose to record a single file with the PIP just burned right into it, or two-up side-by-side, or top and bottom if your video is vertical.

With front and back cameras selected, you can do things like capture a subject and your reactions to it at the same time. Perfect for vlogging or event coverage. Or, you could set it up in between two subject during an interview and capture both sides of the conversation for a video podcast.

With wide and either ultra-wide or telephoto selected, you could capture a subject and also get an optically zoomed out or zoomed in shot at the same time to show context or detail. Perfect for event coverage or travel videos.

And that's basically the crux of DoubleTake — to give you access to twice as many cameras as you have devices.

For a single person, that means doing by yourself what used to require grabbing a friend. For a crew, it means getting double the bang for every setup buck. DoubleTake literally doubles your creative options the moment you launch it.

Lights, camera, double the action

DoubleTake, it's available for iPhone as a free, stand-alone app in the iOS App Store right now, and will be coming to the FilmIC Pro app as well later this spring.

I did ask about the Android app and, unfortunately, the developers don't have anything like a multicam API that just works across a wide enough range of Android devices to make it possible, much less viable right now. Hopefully, Google and Qualcomm will see this and make it a priority for Android 11 though.

I got to spend an hour or so talking to Filmic and watching their demos, and a couple of days shooting with DoubleTake. And I really like what I see so far. So much so, I might even try to do some vlogging of my own with it. Figure out just how far I can push it, where it stands up, where it falls down, and what I want to see from Filmic next.

If that's something you'd like to see, let me know in the comments.

See DoubleTake in the App Store

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Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.