(About the photo – this is my gear – the Yeti Mic is off camera and not depicted here. Also the power bank I own is the older version of the one I recommend – I tried my friend’s new version of this unit and it works. I would recommend the one I have but it’s no longer available for sale…)
It’s never enough. Apple put a USB-C 3 port on the iPhone 15 Pro Max and I wish they had put TWO on there – but I can make one work. Here’s how.
I want to power the phone with an external power bank, record audio from my Yeti USB C condenser studio microphone, record data to an external SSD and I want to do all that simultaneously through the single USB C port on my 15 Pro Max.
I have beat my tired, old brains out on this project. I tried lots of stuff that didn’t work. And I am not going to list all of it because it’s a nightmare. I will list what DID work for me.
If you want to use something else, I won’t be offended. If you ask me however, this is the list I recommend because I know that I know that I know that I know it works. I have used it and tested it. This isn’t something I read about. It’s something I came up with after hours of testing and use in my own studio.
All the items on my list are available from Amazon. You may be able to find them somewhere else.
(Here’s a screen shot showing my USB-C Yeti Mic connected to the iPhone and recording into the Blackmagic video camera app for iPhone – this option only shows up in the menu if you have a working mic connected to the USB-C port…)
First things first – you need a dongle – USB hub for this to work. You plug the mic, the power bank, and the SSD drive into the hub. Then you plug the hub into the phone’s USB C port.
The power supply lets you record video for hours, while simultaneously recording audio from the studio mic and writing all this to the external SSD which can then be disconnected from the phone and attached to your editing computer for a data dump.
It works flawlessly. It’s a bit of a kludge and the next step will no doubt be just as messy as I work through attaching all this to a cage, but that is for a future post. For now, I wanted to let you know that I found this exact combination of hub, power cords, power bank, mic and SSD drive to work. Substitute ANY other piece of gear and it might or might not work. Take your chances.
When you are recording using the native camera app on the iPhone, if you want to record out to an SSD, you need to record in ProRes 4K 60fps. And if you hook up a fast enough SSD to the iPhone through the USB-C port, you will see this little message down underneath the iPhone camera shutter button – this means you’re recording to the USB-C port NOT to the usual camera app album...
I assume that a similar USB C shotgun mic would work in place of the Yeti Mic but since for now, I am working in a studio environment I don’t have any suggestions on. that front. I did try a couple of 3.5mm connected mics and found no joy so I suggest sticking with a USB-C mic since I know that works. If any of you has a USB-C shotgun mic you like be sure to leave mention of it in the comments. I will post the cage article next week.
Rixmie Short USB-C Cable [5 inch], 100W PD Fast Charging, 2022 New USB C to USB C Short Cable, Thunderbolt 3
IOGEAR USB-C to USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 cable
SAMSUNG T7 Shield 1TB, Portable SSD
Anker Portable Charger, 20K USB-C Power Bank with 20W Power Delivery
USB C Hub, RSHTECH USB C Dongle Adapter with 8K HDMI, 10Gbps USB C and 2 USB A Data Ports, 100W Power Delivery
Logitech for Creators X Professional USB Condenser Microphone Yeti Blue
Now let’s look at how I mount all this stuff and at my cage:
Cage/Video Rig for iPhone 15 Pro Max
A view of the rig facing the lens-side of the iPhone…
Now I’d like to describe how I rig this all up. My cage is a bit of a rat’s nest as you might expect with all this skunkworks of tools, but it’s relatively clean considering the challenge.
I have tested many cages and bang for the buck as well as utility and flexibility makes it easy to pick the SmallRig Universal Smartphone Video Rig (https://amzn.to/3McXpkn) – at $39.90 it’s an absolute steal and moreover it’s the last cage you will ever need for smartphone filmmaking even if you switch to another brand of phone.
It works with a phone in or out of a case which is a nice bonus.
A view of the rig from the back side of the iPhone…
In the past I went with dedicated cages and while they offer a bit more protection they are expensive and have less utility. I decided this time I’d go generic and I am sure glad I did. I do not feel like I gave up anything and in return I got a cage that I can use for life.
It securely fits the iPhone 15 Pro Max so it will probably fit almost any phone. The cage rig comes with multiple 1/4″-20 threaded holes and two cold shoes for attaching a tripod BUT2664, smartphone side handle 3838, LED light 3286, microphone 3452, cold shoe mount adapter 3577 and other accessories.
It’s sturdy and made of aluminum so it’s strong but lightweight. It works with a number of accessories that I already had since I used to use a dedicated SmallRig cage on my 13 Pro Max.
This allows me to hold the cage by the top – gives me a place to mount a light or external shotgun mic if I need it and to securely hold the SSD drive in place.
A closer look at the SmallRig cage – (https://amzn.to/40bhjC7)…
Connecting this all together I needed a few more minor accessories not from SmallRig (although I could probably find them at SmallRig if I looked through their catalog.)
I am using a VELCRO Brand Sticky-Back Fastener (https://amzn.to/3tKAvdC) to hold the USB hub onto the cage. I used two of the fasteners and the bond is more than strong enough for me. If I were doing serious adventure sports I might want something a little more secure but for my application it works perfectly.
I also needed something to mount my external power bank to the cage. I found the Phone Tripod Mount Holder for iPhone – ULANZI ST-06S works perfectly and offers me another way to mount mics/lights if needed and securely hold the power bank at the same time. It’s only $15 so not expensive at all.
I threaded the cables around the cage. I could (and probably will) clean that up a bit but for now it’s more than serviceable and after five or six hours of testing I have had zero failures.
So for a little more $100 I have a cage with accessories that empowers me to do all sorts of work with the iPhone camera.
It’s pretty amazing that this all works. I’ve been waiting a long time for the ability to do this. While it’s not pretty, it solves the problem and I assume that the accessory makers will come up with a more elegant solution down the road. In the mean time, I can’t wait for them so here’s mine. The list is below. Enjoy.
SIDEBAR – Most of these accessories will work with any smartphone – they just may not work from a connectivity standpoint. Also, I am using a temporary phone case I bought off Amazon until the Moment case I ordered for this phone arrives – due November 1, 2023. I will update this post or add a separate post to talk about the case once I have tested it.