Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor


Once again we see major clients like Bentley agreeing to have an add campaign shot with a camera not fit for purpose. A lot of frigging has gone on behind the scenes to make this happen hence the black and white “look” but in my opinion web hits versus stunning 4K footage shot on the likes of a Sony F55…no comparison.

When your business is built around top quality engineering why compromise your product using a £600 smartphone camera.

Bentley “The film highlights the fusion of luxury, performance and technology within the Bentley Mulsanne and reveals the manner in which Intelligent Details was filmed, assembled and edited using the in-car connectivity and entertainment platform.”…iPad with keyboard.

I don’t get the point, if your customer base are people at the top of their professions why do you need to produce a viral video to get to the masses…when 99.9% can’t afford your product ?


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

13 thoughts on “Bentley Cars use iPhone 5s for gimmick viral add campaign

  1. Finally the voice of reason! I have to agree with you. There are too many gimmicky type things going on and I also fail to see the point.

    Whilst different to the Bentley add using iPhones, I find companies like Sony and Panasonic spouting the same kind of nonsense when touting their GH4 and A7s mirrorless cameras as being compact when speaking of 4K. Certainly, they are much smaller than your average video camera, but once you’ve added this, that and the other to include mics, recorders (E.g., Atomos Shogun) and batteries the compactness factor is suddenly not really there anymore.

    Of course, the cameras can be stripped down to their original compact sizes when necessary and this is the point I think they should be making clearer rather than delivering some spiel that implies they’ll be compact no matter what you do…

    That is just one more example of over emphasis on gimmicks rather than on focusing on what is really the selling points. In the case of the aforementioned cameras, they have much going for them – each of them.

    Do you think the issue being that the marketing guys are simply not sitting down with the engineers who developed the products and the end users enough perhaps? Well, in the case of Bentley, they really seem to have been led up the garden path with some marketing agency…unless the goal was to sell Apple products of course!

  2. It’s not the camera that makes the film it’s the skill of the DP / Director / camera man that makes the film. Again it goes to show you don’t need the latest & greatest to produce a good movie. Just skill & eye for detail and creativity. That’s the problem with newbies coming to this arena that they think if they get the best camera / gear will make them.

    This just goes to show you don’t need a F65 to shoot a film. A simple iPhone in the right production teams hands can get the idea across. Why does it look professional? The sound, there is no shakey footage, composition- framing, editing, the angles, the smooth flow of a movi type of rig. This all adds to the cinematic type of flow. It might look a little soft & less detail than 4K to a pro. But the average bentley punter doesn’t know any better as long as the message is conveyed in a professional manner. Which I think this film achieves.

    Basic advice to a newbie, get yourselve a basic camera and shoot & edit & watch. Then shoot some more. Watch a lot of movies & see how the pros have framed & edited etc. ‘Sleep’ with your camera know it inside out, know the limitations of your device. Remindes me of a famous quote- “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” -Bruce Lee

    HDW : Firstly it’s not a film, its an advert/documentary…secondly newbie’s don’t have the resources to even get close to the type of equipment needed to frig the iPhone into looking acceptable, in fact its the external friggs (Movi/lenses etc) that make the pictures what they are not the iPhone itself.
    The base Bentley Mulsanne costs £226,955 and you think its acceptable to film an advert with a £600 iPhone, sorry I think it’s cheap and gimmicky and very much in the vain of the Emperor’s New Clothes.
    Go the Bentley’s web site and view the very high quality photography…NOT SHOT ON AN iPhone

  3. A video / film / trailer/ advert call it whatever. The point I was trying to make was its not what you shoot it with but who is behind the camera. How they can use what they have to produce a deliverable (lenses / stabilisers/ rigs etc). Plus post pampering. The folk who shot this probably charged the same amount if they were shooting with a F55. I think from the Apple products in the back of the Bentley, I’m guessing when the production company met with the Bentley folk probably suggested why don’t we shoot with a IPhone… As it goes with the Apple product you have in your Bentley. It’s using a icon product to market the brand- Bentley. Or they wouldn’t have left the snippets at the end in with the iPhone. Just my thoughts.

    I understand your out cry at using such a cheap device to advertise a expensive product. If that is what they want then that is what they get.

    The photographs on Bentley shot with 5D MK3 or a Mamiya? I don’t know just guessing. Do you know? Just to add you wouldn’t do still photography with a phone as the lens quality and sensor size is rubbish. But you can get away with video as you can see from above, after some work during the shoot & post work.

    You’ll be surprised some newbies coming out of film school, the editing & video kit they own and think they can become this and that.

  4. I think everyone is looking too deep and missing the point with this. My understanding from various contacts is that the promo was for Bentley to show off the car. The inclusion of Apple iPads in the vehicle gave the opportunity to show off something different. The aim, I’m told, was to show what the technology in the car was capable of, while showing off the car. In this case, a Bentley and iPad combo allows you to do amazing things and travel in comfort – even edit video.

    Only those in the TV industry are going to comment on the use of an iPhone, everyone else who sees it will not notice the rights/wrongs. Rather like those who say that TV crews who record sound without a dedicated recordist are just plain wrong. It may , or it may not, be the ‘pro’ way of doing things but as with everything he who pays the money makes the decisions, regardless of the advice!!

    Look at it another way, posts such as this one on HD Warrior would never have featured the promo without the iPhone camera filming, so you have to say if the aim was to get the Bentley name into different markets, it’s most definitely achieved it!

  5. I think you’ve missed the point. Bentley are trying to attract a younger customer. Shooting on a iPhone 5S peaks my attention as a young person, and might attract a young rich person to a brand like Bentley that they previously hadn’t considered. It’s excellent marketing.

  6. I totally agree Alen. It’s a great piece that shows a quality of thought that outshines many jobbing DoPs and cameramen. Yes, you need some external equipment to achieve the result they got, but i love the concept. Stop upgrading cameras, start buying high quality grip and lighting and learn to be better. 4K DSLRs are the Emperor’s new clothes. With all the hassle you are having and your previous views on ‘not fit for purpose’ dslrs, i thought you would be of the same view Philip.

  7. I don’t care what they are trying to say it is. Film/Ad/Promo, whatever… It still sends a message to the majority of viewers what you can do with an iPhone. An ad like this with a high end luxury brand just perpetuates the notion average people other there think. Why hire a videographer…I can just shoot it on my iPhone. This is particularly troubling for the live event sector, because there is no “rewind”. After the client sees the poor iphone video of the event they captured…there’s on “ok, this looks terrible, cut! Take 2!” The moment is gone forever. And another paid job is wasted all because the consumer seen videos like this thinking. “If the iphone is good enough to use for a Bentley commercial, its good enough for me.” Yes we all know what it took to make this look decent. And I do mean decent… I didn’t see ANYTHING special or award-winning about this. It’s no surprise to us why it’s B&W and why they had to bring in a MOVI to get most the shots. Do I understand why Bentley choose to do this? YES. In large part, again, to Apple’s hard core product marketing prowess. I’m willing to bet all my camera gear that when Bentley wanted to install the Apple tablets in every one of these cars, Apple cut them a sweet deal on the cost in return for “creative control” to produce something like this. The old adage played here by some commenters, “Its not the camera, but the person 5 inches behind it” can keep living and spewing that nonsense/ dreamworld. This video is proves that saying needs to be updated. “It’s not the camera, but the person behind it, the person to his/her left, right, the executive producer, lens, camera support, and social network.

    HDW : I can see the need for a video with younger rich kids in mind and perhaps this is a positive message for the younger rich culture but as I have said before take away the goodies like MOVI and lenses…produce the video solely on the merits of the iPhone 5 and it would not be the same video…its mutton dressed as lamb.

  8. I agree with Mase.

    This ‘PC like’ spouting of ‘its the camera operator’s skill not the tool’ is going a bit too far. Of course, the old adage of ‘it’s a bad workman that blames his tools’ stands true and that no one doubts that. Indeed, if the camera operators weren’t skilled, they would not have been able to have produced this Bentley ad to this high level. But telling someone as experienced as Philip who changes his cameras fairly frequently and uses several different kinds, is to my mind akin to telling your grandmother how to suck eggs – unless you have a similar background.

    As for Bentley trying to attract a ‘younger customer’ (younger that what?) by promoting the inclusion of an iPad reminds me of my chapel going days in the mid-80s when the elders thought that to attract the dwindling ‘younger’ congregation, they should use an acoustic guitar rather than an organ. That didn’t really work and I doubt a younger generation affluent person will be influenced in buying a Bentley solely by the fact that it features an iPad. Suffice as to say, this reeks of gimmickry and I think that this is the point that Philip wants to make – not that a 4K camera will make you a better operator.

    Certainly though – this ad has garnered a lot of attention and in that respect the marketing goal has probably being achieved. Only the forthcoming sales figures will prove or disprove the effectiveness of the ad or any ad of any commercial from a purely business point of view.

  9. What’s not to like about this, its the true democratization of film making. It shows that if an I phone is good enough for a pro crew then its good enough for you. We no longer live in a time where you can hide behind the complexity and expense of the gear you own in order to get the jobs in. a lot of old school guys seem to be getting tetchy because they now need to use their imaginations and make an effort at creativity, rather than just reeling off equipment lists to new clients…
    Filmmaking has for almost its entire existence as an art form been to cost prohibitive for the vast majority to participate in: imagine if a painter had to spend upwards of 10 or 20 grand on a paint brush and oils, no one one would paint! Yet we’ve been putting up with these crazy prices from the start, that you can now shoot something of the quality of the bently promo on something as cheap and ubiquitous as an I phone is a true revolution, and over the next decade or so this approach to production will smash the elitist old boys club that is the broadcast and film industry in the UK. Its already happening, look at vice media, look at people like Jamal edwards, look at the entire action sports video industry… All online circumventing expensive television air time, all using easily accessible production tools like I phones and 500 quid dslrs, all generating millions of hits and pounds, this isnt even the future of production anymore, this is where you’ve got to be to stay relevant.

  10. I am sure the equipment makers in the video were involved in the marketing. If Bentley really wanted to impress they would have used a Sony or Samsung 4K cell phone.

  11. Congratulations! I’ve been doing this for a while – 30 odd years and I would not have bothered with an iPhone for a commercial shoot. To be honest, I don’t have the knowledge or skill to operate such a camera to give optimal results. Good thing the Bentley has tinted windows! Can’t imagine why they bothered to shoot this way – but have to say – the results (despite some blown highlights) look pretty good.

  12. Seems like a few of you have sour grapes, and not really looking at why they made this choice. What an odd thing to get aerated about!

  13. Take away your tripod, jib and slider and what have you got? Wobbly shots with no motion.. it’s a moot point. MoVi and nice lenses are tools that we can all hire when we need them. It’s a good piece. Maybe not great, but very good. It’s not anything dressed as anything else. The point was to show off that you can edit a video in the back of the car – that is all. Who cares how many people are on your crew? As long as the budget works for the client, that’s it.

    If a client ever says to you ‘Why do we need to spend all that cash on an Alexa when Bentley just did an advert with an iPhone’ – That’s when you stun them into silence with your amazing showreel. Don’t moan – you’ll never get any work that way. Just be better. It’s really simple.

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