For a while now, mobile platforms such as Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android have been a playground for third party developers to create apps that make your life easier as a filmmaker or cinematographer.
Several departments come together to make a film, and each department has their own set of workflows and responsibilities. Although there exists several devices and equipment to facilitate smooth functioning of every department, not all of them are cheap or within reach of the average filmmaker.
The problem is, there’s a deluge of useless apps, but very few are really useful or reliable enough for serious production work. Which is why we’ve put together this list. Here are some seriously useful and free apps that should make your life easier and more fun:
1) Adobe Hue CC (iOS)
The mobile phone has become a highly sophisticated audio visual recording device and its core functionality has always been its mobility and ease of convenience to be carried anywhere. Often when we are outdoors, we come across a specific shade or hue of light, which we would love to bring about naturally in shots for our films. Hue’s three-dimensional bubble view shows the volume and distribution of individual colors in the image or scene you’re looking at. Select a color to set the midtone and use the slider to adjust intensity of the overall Look.
If this is a little complicated to understand, here’s a full review of Hue that should clear things up:
You can read our full review here.
2) PowerDirector (Android)
Although PowerDirector is seen as an app for more casual, non-professional users, the simplicity of the interface and easy-to-learn workflows makes it a great way to create quick rough cuts for your footage.
According to the description on the Google Play Store:
“With PowerDirector’s easy-to-use timeline interface, you can quickly create professional, effect rich videos with just a few swipes of your finger. Selecting and importing multiple videos is easy with PowerDirector’s drag-and-drop support, and the easy-to-view timeline makes it splitting, trimming and adding effects to your videos a breeze.”
If you want something similar for iOS, check out this next app:
3) Adobe Premiere Clip (iOS)
Adobe brings the power of editing without the tedium of transcoding to iPhones and iPads via Adobe Premiere Clip. It is completely compatible with the desktop version of Premiere Pro allowing you to seamlessly sync your edits on any medium. This functionality makes the editing suite mobile and you can cut on the go. It also syncs flawlessly with Adobe Hue so you can use the looks created on Hue on to your Premiere Clip timeline.
The app can prove extremely useful for location scouting and set rehearsals, or for making quick rough cuts while filming.
4) Cinema Forms (iOS)
Making a movie includes a lot of paperwork and legalities which consume valuable time. Cinema Forms is a powerful tool that allows you to create, manage, and share production worksheets and legal releases directly from your iPad. With this app, you can now create call sheets, breakdown sheets, talent releases, location release, and so much more directly on your iPad.
Initial app purchase includes 13 essential form templates. From the iTunes Store:
- Call Sheet
- Breakdown Sheet
- Smart Invoice (sum your pre-tax and post-tax total)
- Shot Log
- Talent Release Form
- Generic Talent Release Form
- Location Release Form
- Location Scout Worksheet
- Asset Inventory Log
- Cast Contact List
- Crew Contact List
- AV Script
- Pre-production checklist
This app can be a lifesaver for the 2nd AD who has to populate the day’s call sheet and such automation will really help in cutting down time allocated to such duties, allowing crew members to utilize their time in more active purposes.
5) Celtx Shots (iOS)
This is an invaluable storyboarding app which delivers powerful features and ease of use. Very useful for a storyboard artist who wants to create quick boards to show to the director, or for the independent filmmaker to brief his/her team. This app can also be very helpful when you have a concept in your mind and you want to choose the best possible visual narrative style.
Features (from the iTunes store):
- * Create and edit multi-sequence, multi-shot storyboards.
- * Block camera, lighting, talent, and equipment setups.
- * Create storyboards and sketches linked to scripts imported from your Celtx account.
- * Import and export projects through iTunes.
- * Sync and share individual storyboards with Celtx online services.
- * Import images into storyboards directly from Photos or Camera.
- * View storyboard and blocking animatics with the built-in player.
- * Resize, rotate and flip storyboard images in-app.
- * Email edited image files.
- * Email sketches as PNG, PDF or SVG files.
- * Universal app – purchase once and use on both your iPad and iPhone.
- * 81 pre-installed clip art images for set blocking. Purchase additional Art Packs in-app.
It also makes for a great app when you take your concept/idea to a producer and you want to give him/her something more than just a narration.
6) Arri Photometrics (iOS)
This is probably the most valuable lighting app out there. I really wish other manufacturers would take the hint and get apps for their products.
The following information is available (from the Arri website):
The ARRI Photometric App gives you the ability to quickly reference the photometric characteristics of all of the ARRI light fixtures.
- – Luminous Outpu
- – Beam Diameter
- – Beam Angle
- – Flood, Middle and Spot Photometrics
- – Luminous Distribution Graph
- – Camera Exposure and Aperture Information
- – Light Properties including: Color Temperature, CRI, Protection Rating, Dimming, Dimensions, Weight, Power Draw, Lamp Holder Type, Mounting, Reflector Type, Lens Type, and Scrim Size
- – Metric and Imperial Units
- – Bulb Selection
- – Compare Lampheads
- – Discontinued Product Data
Brilliant app for cinematographers and camera assistants to quickly gather lighting data and as a handy guide as well.
7) Digital Clapper (Android)
This app is a helpful synch tool for creating timecode snapshots on film sets with multiple cameras and sound devices. The features are:
- a color Test Pattern with 1khz tone,
- a five seconds Countdown with sound beeps
- custom frames-per-second Timecode generator together with scene, take and date display
A Shots Report was added in version 1.1.0. The Report can be uploaded to server exported to PDF format or shared online.
Here are instructions from Google Play:
Enter scene and take number. Hold Digital Clapper in front of the cameras and make sure your audio recording device is capturing beeps. If the environment is too loud and your mic can’t pick up beeps use jack cable from Digital Clapper and attach it directly to the camera or external sound recorder inputs. Press the big button with rotating arrow and the countdown will begin. Once in post production synchronizing captured sources on any edit platform (FCP, Avid, Premiere) is fairly straightforward. Simply trim audio and align “beep” to white flash at the end of countdown sequence and your are done. Now you have perfectly synched audio and video.
This app can make the Assistant Director’s job much easier, and will prove to be a big help on the editing table as the editor will have a perfectly synced take for his edit.
8) Lens Angle Calculator (Web)
Lens Angle Calculator helps to calculate the lens angle or focal length for a given sensor size. This comes very handy when you want accurate data over a particular combination of camera and lens. It also has a few presets so can get your results quickly.
This app is not only useful for camera assistants and DOPs, but can also prove to be invaluable to visual effects artists.
9) Video Space Calculator
Video Space Calculator can help you calculate the disk space taken up by a specific codec. It supports over 80 codecs including ProRes, Animation, ARRIRAW, DNxHD, XDCAM and DPX (Complete list on the app page). Results can be emailed or copied to the clipboard. This app can keep you well-prepared for a shoot in context to amount of storage required and save valuable time during hectic shoots.
WebPage to the App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/video-space/id492916201?mt=8
These are few of the many apps available online which provide a helping hand in all stages of making a film. Although it isn’t really all the rage as of yet, current trends show these apps are slowly gaining popularity and acceptance as a handy tool on sets for the entire unit. And these are just the free ones.
What do you think? Do you you use any of these (or other apps we might have missed)?