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Google Pixel Cinematic Blur: What is it and how does it work?

Cinematic blur is like your smartphone's portrait mode, but for video instead.

Published onSeptember 1, 2023

pixel 7 series cinematic blur

The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro feature a host of new camera features and modes, thanks to the upgraded machine learning capabilities of Google’s Tensor G2 SoC. One of those is Cinematic Blur, a mode that adds a shallow depth of field to your video recordings. If you’re looking to shoot professional-looking videos with just your smartphone, here’s how to use Cinematic Blur on the Pixel 7 series.

What is Cinematic Blur mode on the Google Pixel?

Cinematic Blur is a camera feature that tracks a subject in the frame and creates a blurry, out-of-focus background behind it. This look, also known as bokeh, is often associated with expensive cameras and lenses that can produce natural subject-background separation. However, the Pixel 7 series uses software to simulate this cinematic style. The feature works on both animals and humans.

You may have already used your smartphone’s Portrait Mode to add a blurry background behind your subject. Cinematic Blur brings the same effect to video recordings instead. Since a video is essentially a series of 30 or 60 images recorded each second, the feature likely requires much more computational power. This may explain why we’ve had to wait so long for it even though Portrait Mode is already available on many budget smartphones.

In our Pixel 7 review, we noted that the results of Cinematic Blur were competitive with that of Apple’s own cinematic mode. However, the iPhone has a technical advantage as it can shoot in higher resolutions like 4K and offers better autofocus during video recording than the Pixel. As for shared downsides, both smartphones struggled with fine detail like hair edges.

How does Cinematic Mode on the Pixel work?

Cinematic Mode is just one of many Pixel-only features, enabled by Google’s semi-custom Tensor G2 SoC. While smartphone cameras produce natural bokeh just like a film camera, the effect is usually much more subtle due to their smaller sensor sizes.

To help overcome this limitation, smartphones like the Pixel 7 use machine learning and computational photography to separate the foreground from the background. From there, the phone adds a blur effect exclusively to the background and leaves the subject in the foreground unchanged. It’s effectively a post-processing effect added in real-time as you record.

How to use Cinematic Blur on the Google Pixel 7 and 7 Pro?

google pixel 7 pro camera app
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

First off, the Cinematic Blur mode is only available on the Google Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. Assuming you own one of these two smartphones, here’s how to use the feature:

  • Open the Camera app on a Pixel 7 or Pixel 7 Pro
  • Towards the bottom of the screen right below the shutter button, swipe through the various camera modes until you land on Cinematic Mode.
  • Tap the shutter button to begin recording. You’ll need a subject in the frame for the foreground-background separation effect to work.
  • To turn off Cinematic Blur, simply use a different camera mode.


For now, Cinematic Blur is exclusively available on the Pixel 7 series.

No, Cinematic Blur is currently exclusively available on the Pixel 7 series. This may be because of the upgraded AI capabilities of the Tensor G2 chipset.

Yes, Cinematic Blur is limited to 1080p 24fps on the Pixel 7 series.

Yes, the Google Pixel 7 series features a Cinematic Mode similar to the one found in newer iPhone models.

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