Apple's 'Shot on iPhone' Film Dives Deep Into Usher's Super Bowl Halftime Show

Producers used 40 iPhones to show what went into the performance and offer one-of-a-kind perspectives not shown in the actual live broadcast.

Patrick Holland Managing Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
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  • Patrick's play The Cowboy is included in the Best American Short Plays 2011-12 anthology. He co-wrote and starred in the short film Baden Krunk that won the Best Wisconsin Short Film award at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival.
Patrick Holland
2 min read
Usher performing during the halftime show

Usher performs during Super Bowl 2024's halftime show.

L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

Every so often, Apple releases short films touting the iPhone's video capabilities, and the latest "shot on iPhone" film documents the rehearsal and performance of Usher's Super Bowl halftime show. The documentary is dotted with roller skating dancers, stage technicians with leaf blowers making Alicia Keys' cape billow, stilt walkers and a hard-working and contemplative Usher -- all captured with off-the-shelf iPhone 15 models.

"I challenge myself differently at 45 years old. Everyday is like a different ache, a different mental challenge," says Usher during the film, while receiving cupping therapy. "It's just another thing to work through."

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Director Mike Carson and director of photography Xiaolong Liu used 40 iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max devices, capturing the rehearsal process in black-and-white and the actual performance in color. The film cuts back-and-forth between the two, with the live performance sections in particular standing out for their unique angles and one-of-a-kind perspectives compared to what was broadcast.

The filmmakers littered the stage with iPhones to capture the action, attaching some to performers and mounting others to set pieces and instruments. My personal favorite is the one on a musician's trombone slide, giving the footage a kinetic movement that wouldn't have been possible to capture with larger, heavier conventional cameras. The documentary also shows Usher and his team in quieter moments, like figuring out how all the songs fit together.

"I put the songs together like a puzzle piece," says Usher, "to represent this type of soulful music, R&B and [a] mixture of this pop that is my own."

Previous "shot on iPhone" films have included Apple's fall Scary Fast Mac event keynote video, the music video for Olivia Rodrigo's get him back! and a five-hour, one-take tour of Russia's Hermitage museum.

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