Apple’s 2021 New Year Movie “A Year”

The "why" and "freedom" of growing up

Since 2018, every Chinese New Year, Apple will release a short film filmed by the latest flagship iPhone. In the past three years, we have remembered “Three Minutes” directed by Kexin Chen, “A Bucket” directed by Jia Zhangke, and “Daughter” starring Zhou Xun directed by Theodore Melfi.

Apple's 2021 New Year Movie
On the eve of the Spring Festival in 2021, Wang Ziyi brought her “A Nian” shot with iPhone 12 Pro Max, which is also a New Year film brought by Apple this year.

The whole movie is not long, only 11 minutes and 50 seconds, maintaining the style of short films that have been shot in Apple’s New Year’s film over the past few years. The difference is that this year’s “A Nian” has added a fantasy shooting style, bringing the “nian beast” from ancient Chinese legends into the film, telling it with the heroine of the story, the little girl A Ting. A story about “growth”.

The “why” and “freedom” of growing up

The main line of the story is very simple. The little girl A Ting is a little girl who wanders between fantasy and the real world. She is a child who “is not afraid of the sky” and loves to ask “why”. She accidentally found her victim on the mountain. Nian Beast, who has misunderstood for many years, has experienced a touching growth story with him.

The "why" and "freedom" of growing up
The Nian Beast is quoted from ancient Chinese legends. In many people’s perceptions, the Nian Beast is a vicious monster. Just like Xiao A Ting’s perception of the Nian Beast at the beginning of the film is what his parents said that he “eats children” monster.

But when she opened her heart and really met Nian Beast, she found that it was very different from the image of her parents. And for the first time in history, Nian Beast has the name “A Nian” given to it by a human partner.

From the monster “Nian Beast” who eats children to “A Nian” who sits around a table with humans at the end, the emotions expressed in the movie are a challenge to the unknown. The phrase “Why should we be afraid of Nian Beast?” in the little girl’s mouth became the core of the whole movie.

It subverts the inherent image of “Nian Beast” in allusions and people’s hearts, and also untie the shackles of fear in people’s hearts.

The fantasy story told in the film itself is actually a reflection on realistic education. In the film, the parents of the little girl A Ting instill the fear of the “nian beast” in their children, and project the mentality of the traditional generation of Chinese parents from the side: the outside world is full of unknowns, will it really be like “nian beasts” “The same monster is waiting for her? Will parents’ excessive protection of their children stifle their curiosity and imagination about the unknown?

The team behind “Anian” and the iPhone 12 Pro Max in their hands

This year, Apple invited Wang Ziyi to nominate the best foreign language film director for the 2020 Golden Globe Awards to work with the original crew to complete all the shooting tasks through the iPhone 12 Pro Max lens and some necessary shooting accessories.

During the entire shooting process of the film, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has major upgrades in the lens part, such as the first iPhone that can use Dolby Vision to shoot, powerful low-light shooting, fully upgraded super three-camera lens, etc. Shown in the movie.

In the movie “A Nian”, a large number of backlit shooting scenes are used, whether it is the cave where A Nian lives, or the girl and parents separated by a curtain, which imposes quite strict requirements on the tolerance of mobile phone lenses. Harsh challenge.

Anna Franksa Solano reviews iPhone 12 Pro Max
As the director of photography for “Anian”, the 2020 Golden Globe Awards nominated Best Foreign Language Film Photography Director Anna Franksa Solano praised the low-light shooting function of the iPhone 12 Pro Max, saying that she left a deep impression on her impression.

Yu Liwei is shooting
Yu Liwei, another director of photography, believes that the anti-shake function of the iPhone 12 Pro Max unlocks the possibility of more photography technology, and Dolby Vision has brought him a great shock. This film industry standard can be applied to On a mobile phone, now everyone can shoot professional-grade movie quality movies.


The film’s director, Wang Ziyi, used a variety of auxiliary tools during the filming process, such as the wheelchair used to shoot the Nian Beast rolling his body, or the mobile phone tied to the chopsticks when the little girl was looking for the Nian Beast. With the help of these auxiliary tools that are very common in our lives, the director Wang Ziyi has gained more unique shooting perspectives. And she also wants to inspire more people in this way, so that filming can take a different path.

Hardware upgrades liberate the photographer’s prop library

In the past three years, every New Year’s movie brought by Apple has sparked discussions among viewers on iPhone shooting techniques and debuts. This year, Apple also brought attention to the shooting techniques shown in the movie.

This year, the iPhone 12 Pro Max still uses the three-lens module. In the film, these three lenses have achieved excellent imaging effects. All the close-up, wide-angle, close-up, etc. seen in the film are directly used. Photographed by mobile phone.

Lin Jiashu, the founder of NOMO and Protake, spoke highly of the lens quality of the iPhone 12 Pro Max when talking about filming. If it is said that in the first year of “Three Minutes”, Chen Kexin needs to use a DoF Adapter and use a SLR camera lens to complete a shallow depth of field picture. But in “A Nian”, it is the material directly shot by the iPhone’s imaging system.

One of the most important improvements in the shooting of iPhone 12 Pro Max this year is its support for Dolby Vision. This allows the iPhone 12 Pro Max to capture up to 700 million colors, and the pictures taken are extremely vivid. In the film, Dolby Vision provides richer colors, making the entire shooting screen more full.

The new optical image stabilization function of iPhone 12 Pro Max also showed excellent ability in this shooting. In the film, all kinds of shooting techniques such as running, lens rotation, and character switching are almost all done by the photographer’s handheld shooting. This places very high demands on mobile phone owners.

In the film, a large number of night and low-light scenes also show people the significant improvement in low-light shooting capabilities of the iPhone 12 Pro Max this year. The lens designed by Apple for the iPhone 12 Pro Max this year has a built-in sensor area that has increased by 47% compared to the previous generation. The larger photosensitive area brings more light into the lens, which ultimately helps the iPhone 12 Pro Max to complete the “Ah A lot of low-light scenes were shot in Nian.