How To Shoot Cinematic Videos On The Google Pixel 7 Pro

Whether you aimed to save money by getting the base model Pixel 7 smartphone, or spent a bit extra for the Pixel 7 Pro variant, you have access to an exclusive feature that Google calls "Cinematic Mode." 

As the name suggests, Cinematic Mode enables users to capture high-quality, cinema-like (in theory, at least) videos using their smartphone. That's a concept Apple pioneered years ago (and turned into a feature with the iPhone 13), inspiring ambitious projects like the theatrical movie "Unsane" that was filmed using the iPhone 7 Plus.

When it comes to the Pixel 7 Pro, Google describes its own version of Cinematic Mode as a video effect that keeps the subject of the video in focus while the background is blurred using the software-level computational photography its smartphones are known for. While actual cinema-tier camera rigs are massive and complicated, the Cinematic Mode on the Pixel 7 Pro can be turned on and off with a couple of swipes and taps of the screen.

How to turn on the Pixel 7 Pro camera's Cinematic Mode

As with Google's 10-bit HDR video recording feature, you must have the Pixel 7 or Pixel 7 Pro smartphone to use Cinematic Mode — the feature won't appear within the camera app on older versions of the Pixel lineup. That aside, you can enable the special video effect using a couple of taps, as explained by Google in a support document.

  1. Open the Camera app.
  2. Swipe over to the Cinematic Mode effect.
  3. Point the phone's camera at the subject.
  4. Tap the record button.
  5. Tap the subject on the screen.

By tapping the subject on the screen while in Cinematic Mode, you'll direct the Pixel 7 Pro to focus on that person or object while you're recording. The background will be automatically blurred behind the subject, giving the video a nice depth effect that would — on an ordinary camera — require careful attention to things like focal length and aperture.

Do all Android phones have Cinematic Mode?

Unlike the iPhone, which offers essentially the same iOS experience across all models, Android is a highly customizable platform that can — in the most extreme cases — appear like an entirely different operating system between devices. This customizability is the big reason the mobile platform remains so popular, but it also means that manufacturers have a lot of freedom to decide which features are included on their smartphones — and which are left out.

Unfortunately, for this reason, not all Android phones feature a Cinematic Mode. There is, however, some good news. The setting exists at the software level, meaning it is dependent upon the particular camera app packaged with the Pixel 7 Pro, rather than the hardware. This means there are many third-party camera apps available through the Google Play Store that may offer a similar cinema-like video recording experience, and you can download those apps on your own handset even if it isn't a Pixel model. For example, something like ProCam X may offer more camera control features than what you currently have access to.

As well, some other Android phones may feature a setting that applies an effect similar to Google's Cinematic Mode, but it may be listed under a different name and perhaps even marketed for different shooting scenarios. For example, your phone's stock camera app (the one that was already installed on the device when you bought it) may have something like a bokeh or portrait video recording mode that similarly locks onto one subject while blurring the background.