In his recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Rami Malek discusses how certain scenes in No Time to Die (2021) were shot especially for the IMAX version.

But he also mentioned that some are also shot for iPhones, which I don't understand. After roughly 09:46:

Kimmel: So is it different; the IMAX film, or are they still identical? Are they still exactly the same?

Malek: No, they're... it's a little bit different. It's funny, you shoot for IMAX, you have to shoot for traditional, you even have to shoot for iPhone, believe it (or not). I'm not even joking.

Kimmel: Did you really have to do special shots for iPhone?

Malek: Yes, yes, yes.

Kimmel: That's really weird!

Question: How are some scenes for movies shot especially for iPhone viewing? Is a different camera used? Different lighting? Different angles?

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    I think it is about framing the scene, so that it looks right in every aspect ration that the movie will be released in.
    – TK-421
    Commented Oct 7, 2021 at 7:25

1 Answer 1


It is all about the framing - what will fit in a shot when it is eventually shown in a streaming or BluRay/DVD format, or indeed before that, a non-IMAX cinema.

As I don't have any access to examples of No Time to Die in any format as yet, let me use another example; one that was intentionally shot to fit inside a 16:9 screen [regular TV ratio] and yet inside that uses many different aspect ratios. This way we can examine shots to see what would have happened if the movie hadn't been 'encapsulated' inside 16:9. This would normally be a very difficult task, as I don't know of any other movie shot in so many ratios, yet intentionally then shrunk to all fit exactly inside a 16:9 frame. Dunkirk does something similar, but the home versions are all cropped first, so you never see the full IMAX frames.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
It even starts with a guide for those not prepared for the film's changing aspect ratios…

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The opening shot then immediately displays inside that, with borders right round…

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but when we first see the hotel in all its fading glory, we jump to Academy ratio [this is what old black and white movies were shot in, before the advent of Cinemascope and the other widescreen formats]. It is, for our purposes, similar enough to the IMAX ratio and also the old 'square' TV format that we can treat it in the same way for this answer. See Wikipedia - Aspect ratio (image) for a comparison.

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OK. So, if we took that image of the hotel and expanded it to fit on a regular TV screen or a phone, then we would need to cut off the top and bottom, thus.

enter image description here

That's not too bad - we can still fit the hotel in frame, and I didn't need to make any manual adjustment of where in the frame I did my crop. I just did it right from the centre, no manual adjustment necessary.

However, if I do the same from this shot in the lift…

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then we've rather uncomfortably cropped halfway through the poor lift attendant's head - so we would have to do some manual adjustment to this.

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Now we've got everybody's head in shot - but we've also rather de-emphasised the interaction between the two main characters. In this shot at full original ratio, it is quite intentional that we are distracted by the bored lift attendant, but when we crop it we're now drawn to it just a bit too much.
There's also a beautiful sense of claustrophobia in this shot, lost in the crop. There are many shots in this movie that use the 'unusual' height of the frame to separate focal points for the audience, that don't translate properly to a 'letterbox' format.

There are some shots that look even more uncomfortable when cropped, that no amount of manual adjustment could really fix.

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This is what they need to be aware of when shooting to be ready for television and phone aspect ratios.

This is, in effect, an extension of a formatting awareness used in broadcasting, called "Title-Safe" and "Action-Safe" areas.

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Image and full article at Yes, Title safe still matters – especially for online video

Variations on this format are frequently seen marked on the monitor of the camera itself and also the ones used for the director and others in the 'video village' on a shoot, so everyone knows which parts of the image will survive future re-formatting.

enter image description here

Image from Pomfort - My DIT cart – Jason Naran
DIT is Digital Imaging Technician

Note: This can be done even if shooting on film. A light 'splitter' is used so there is a video feed, allowing remote monitoring and instant playback, even though the final result won't be seen until the film is developed.

  • 8
    And this is why when a guest insists on cropping a movie, you ask them politely yet firmly to leave. Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 7:27
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    The most extreme example of this being the recently-deceased Quibi app, which was designed to be viewed in either landscape or portrait mode. The "safe" zones for filming one of those shows must've been miniscule... Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 13:17
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    @cjs - most iPhones are 16:9. Newer ones are 19.5:9. iPads are 4:3. No-one in their right mind is going to have action safe areas for every possible format. Malek's quote is hyperbole.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 16:00
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    @Vikki - because people complain. They complain more at pillarboxing than letterboxing. They complained at Zack Snyder's Justice League. They complained that Dunkirk was part cropped, part letterboxed. People didn't seem to complain about The Grand Budapest Hotel or The Lighthouse perhaps because they were aimed at a different audience.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 9, 2021 at 7:43
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    @CarstenS - people watch whatever the streaming companies serve up. You rarely get the choice.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 9, 2021 at 16:49

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