iPhone Cinematography Uncovers the Dark Heart of the Sea

Warning: treacherous waters are ahead. A dark, cold place where only the brave dare to explore. Recent video projects by photographer and cinematographer Sven Dreesbach create a feeling of icy-cold tension, contrasted by a sense of meditative pleasure. It's a vibe that is best soaked in rather than pontificated upon by some internet writer. Oh, and he did it all on iPhones.

The ocean can seem like both a calming muse and the murky black lair of an unseen leviathan, depending on which video you watch first. What is certain is that you should definitely watch them both.

“I shot two ‘surf videos’ at the same time,” Dreesbach told Fstoppers. “The main project (‘Dark Waves’) was a music video I shot for Robot Koch from the infamous indie label Monkeytown Records in Berlin. The other project (‘This Moment’) is a ‘visual poem’ and has more of a branded content look.

The fact that these videos are so majestic - and filmed on the same device that most of us use to manage a grocery list - is impressive. Still, it should no longer come as a surprise in 2016 that creativity, access, and content trump gear in most situations. Parody in the camera marketplace is obvious, but somehow we still find ourselves debating the merits of “pro gear” versus “enthusiast gear” versus minimalist projects like this one.

The bottom line is that tools are just tools, but not everyone will buy that. Even if it works quite well for guys like Sven.

“One of the main reasons to pick the iPhone over more professional cameras was not only excitement over the new features (120fps in HD) but also the small budget,” Dreesbach said. “We spent less money on hardware than we would have if we rented any gear. On top of that we had the option to go back into the water any time we needed for pick up shots, which turned out useful, since it's hard to plan too far ahead when shooting surf. You gotta be ready for the ocean, when it is for you!”

Surf’s up.

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Brady Cabe's picture

Beautiful and inspiring work.

Euan Rannachan's picture

This is..... AMAZING.... does anyone know if he used any lenses for the in the water stuff? and if so how he waterproofed the iphone? Really inspiring

McKinley Wiley's picture


What underwater rig did the videographer use?

Adam Ehhhh's picture

I appreciate the article, but can you guys give any more info? I'd like to know about the gear.

suman bobba's picture

An iPhone 6S Plus, Beastgrip Pro smartphone lens adapter and camera rig, DOF/SLR Adapter (with a Canon 70-200mm F2.8 IS Mk I lens) and Extreme Wide Angle lens, Watershot waterproof case, Olloclip clip-on lens, phoneography app FiLMic Pro and Davinci production software.