This week's episode of Modern Family does something network television hasn't ever done before: The installment, called "Connection Lost," was filmed using Apple iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks. And though Apple didn't sponsor the episode, the company did provide the devices.
The Feb. 25 Modern Family consists entirely of a series of FaceTime chats between Claire (Julie Bowen), who is sitting in an airport in Chicago, and the rest of her family members, who are in their respective houses in Los Angeles. Claire also uses her computer to simultaneously track down her eldest daughter, Haley (Sarah Hyland), who no one has heard from since the day before. The Dunphy matriarch is able to log into Facebook, search the internet, shop online, and read her emails, all while chatting with her husband, Phil (Ty Burrell), her brother, Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), and her father, Jay (Ed O'Neill), with other family members coming in and out of the screen.
In this exclusive behind-the-scenes clip, Modern Family's co-creator and executive producer, Steve Levitan, explains how they used iPhones to film "Connection Lost":
In the video, Levitan explains that all of the iPhones were in holsters held by cameramen and each actor kept his or her arm on the cameraman's arm so it looked as if he or she was holding and moving the phone.
And while the episode many seem to stray from the show's traditional format, Levitan explains that over the ABC comedy's six seasons, certain scenes have been shot on iPhones for a variety of reasons, but viewers most likely didn't notice the difference between something shot with a sophisticated digital camera and an iPhone camera. For example, "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 told BuzzFeed News in an email. "Then we filmed Rico against a green screen, and inserted the shot into the episode."