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‘Modern Family’ co-creator details episode shot entirely with Apple products

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In a behind-the-scenes look at an upcoming “Modern Family” episode shot completely on iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2, co-creator and executive producer Steve Levitan said using the iOS devices didn’t dramatically change the production process, and revealed that tomorrow’s show is not the first time producers turned to Apple’s handset for in-show footage.

According to Levitan, who spoke with BuzzFeed about the special episode, producers wanted to make the episode feel “more authentic” by using iPhones and iPads for the shoot, rather than processing footage from expensive cameras to make it appear as though it came out of Apple’s device.

“Shooting on iPhones didn’t really change things that much because we shoot on digitally [sic] anyway,” Levitan said.

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A report last week revealed the upcoming episode would play out on a Mac OS X desktop — created from scratch by the show’s graphics team — used by Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen), who is attempting to find her daughter Haley (Sarah Hyland) while stuck in an airport in Chicago. Throughout the show, Dunphy uses FaceTime and iMessage, among other apps, to remotely connect with her family back home in Los Angeles.

Initially, producers imagined each actor would capture footage using their own device, but the idea was ultimately scrapped. Instead, the show’s film crew manned the iPhones, keeping shots in frame and steady, while actors grabbed on to the cameraman’s arm to create the illusion that the devices were being used handheld.

Levitan said the upcoming episode is not the first to use footage taken directly from an iPhone.

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“There was a scene where Manny (Rico Rodriguez) was dressed as a mascot at a basketball game, so rather than recreating a whole basketball game, I quickly shot my son’s basketball game on my iPhone,” Levitan explained. “Then we filmed Rico against a green screen, and inserted the shot into the episode.”

Apple provided “Modern Family” iPhones, iPads and MacBook Pros for the shoot, as well as a Mac Pro for postproduction work, but did not pay for product placement or sponsorship.

BuzzFeed has a short clip of Levitan discussing filming procedures, as well as behind-the-scenes footage showing actors using the iPhone 6 to record the show. The Apple-centric episode, titled “Connection Lost,” will debut Wednesday night on ABC.

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