Production Savvy Apps for iPhone

I’ve been using pCam on my Palm Pilot V for the last 12 years or so as an on-set tool. I love it. The thing has been amazing, but in the last few months, I’ve been looking seriously into replacing my stalwart Palm for an iPhone or even an iPod Touch. Why? Couple of reasons; I can get my hands on an iPod Touch for under $200, and software. There is a plethora of fantastic apps available for the iPhone and iPod Touch, many of which are under $30, making the iPhone or iPod Touch a near-indispensable, inexpensive tool for on-set folks; Directors, VFX Supervisors, Producers, Camera crew, AD’s, Gaffers, etc.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of some of the most interesting (and in that, I mean useful as well as very cool) apps to be had for the iPhone/ iPod Touch. These are inexpensive enough to warrant grabbing a handful, so do yourself a favor and hit the links to check this stuff out. I’m sure you’ll be amazed. First off is Chemical Wedding’s ARTEMIS Director’s DIgital Viewscope.

The folks at Chemical Wedding have done a fantastic job with this one.
Artemis is a digital Directors Viewfinder that works with the iPhone in the same way as a traditional directors viewfinder, though more accurately and conveniently. Here’s how Artemis works; Once you’ve selected a camera format, aspect ratio and lens, the app utilizes the iPhone’s built-in camera to simulate the lens views you can expect when you’re ready to shoot. You can either evaluate all the lenses, or hit zoom and the camera will present the equivalent view of your chosen lens. Artemis is a digital directors viewfinder for the iPhone.

If there ever was a ‘never-leave-the-house-without-it’ application for on-set, it would be David Eubank’s pCam , a motion picture calculator for VFX Supervisors, Directors of Photography, Camera Assistants, Gaffers, Grips, Editors, Production Designers, Art Directors, Film and Photography Students. Created by the same fellow who’d created the original (and widely used) version for the Palm Pilot, this cool new version has been updated with a intuitive graphical interface for the iPhone. With pCam, you can calculate depth of field, field of view, focus splits, hyperfocal distance, exposure compensation, color correction filters, diopter shift, time lapse, running time, macro, underwater focus distance, HMI safe speeds and shutter, illumination beam intensity and light coverage. For the truly hopeful, it’s even got a built-in Siemen’s Star focus chart. Now how cool is that. Hey Dave- Thanking You.

Movie Slate is a digital slate, clapperboard, shot log and shot notepad designed for film, television and documentaries. Movie Slate provides an easy way to log footage and take notes as you shoot— saving you time later when you capture and edit the footage on your computer. Sound good so far? Wait, there’s more;
this app can log data from multiple productions, export data as Final Cut Pro XML files, and has an interface for changing data on the fly! It’s totally customizable using stick designs colors and fonts. Save text, voice notes and photo’s for each take/ shot, and rate the audio and video quality of each take/ shot. You can set markers within a shot to keep track of specific events, and here’s a kicker; Movie Slate allows wireless sync of running time code on multiple iPhones running the app with Bluetooth.  Very. Cool.

Action Log Pro is a film and television logging tool designed for location shoots or in the studio with up to 25 recording devices. At the touch of a button the logging system keeps track of all reel names and time codes for each recorded piece of action. Comment entry is quick and easy- just construct clip names using predefined lists and the built-in keyboard. Project clips can be emailed as ALE and XML files to post production and editorial departments for immediate digitizing. For those who like to edit with printed logs in hand, HTML formatted log sheets, sorted by reel name, can be forwarded too, although Action Log Pro’s seamless connectivity to both Avid and Final Cut Pro makes paper logs a thing of the past.

Hitchcock Mobile Storyboarding composer is a mobile storyboard and pre-visualization tool designed for Directors, DP’s, Producers, Writers, Animators and anyone who wants to be able to visualize their story while on the go. Create a storyboard, convert to a PDF, then send your pre-viz brilliance along to client and crew alike via email, all while racing across town in a cab. Check out the Vimeo demo clip of this app in action on the website, here.

There’s little available on a desktop that can compete with Hitchcock’s speed and ease of use, let alone the sub-$20 price tag. That’s less than a Moleskin notebook! Couple of hitches left for the wish list; drawings need to be imported for inclusion (from another app), and completed slide shows can’t be exported. Despite these minor setbacks, it’s brilliant for film and commercial work. Since you’ve already got an iPhone (you do, don’t you?), this little app is a great addition to the digital tool set.

Over the years I’ve had my share of fumbling about for my cache of lighting gel swatch books, only to find various swatches torn out for use…by someone else. Ugh. Thankfully, those days are over courtesy of Wybron’s Gel Swatch Library. This handy application has over 1,000 Lee, Apollo, Rosco and GAM gel colors, ready when you are for digital delivery. Added convenience is had via several alternatives to find the colors your looking for; scroll through gels by manufacturer or search by name. Should you need vital gel data, it’s all there with CMY/ RGB percentages and Spectral Distribution curves listed for each color. Nice.

Need to know what an ARRI 10K Fresnel lamp at 25’ will deliver in beam spread and foot-candles? Look no further than PocketLD by Michael Zinman. This baby will give you what you’re looking for in a hurry, rain or shine. PocketLD is a photometric database and calculator hosting a vast collection of the most popular lighting instruments for film and stage. Truly a Gaffer’s best friend and a wonderfully handy reference, on set and in post for the VFX / CG lighting folks.

FiRe is a honest-to-goodness, professional recorder developed for audio pros by audio pros. Created specifically as a field recorder for the iPhone, this isn’t your run of the mill pocket memo recorder! FiRe supports full stereo recording, displays accurate audio waveform in real time, supports markers, and allows instant downloading of files in multiple formats. This thing is an indy filmmakers dream come true.

Last but not least, this little app will be making it into several of my Assistant Director buddies Christmas stockings next year.

MyWeather Mobile is a feature rich weather application with animated looping radar and satellite, 36-hour temperature, precipitation and wind speed/direction graphs (USA only), 7-day forecasts, over 10,000 U.S. cities and now thousands of international cities. You can also rotate the phone horizontally to view FULL-SCREEN radar animation and 36-hour trend graphs (USA only). Sever weather push notifications definitely put this app on the top of the pile of paid weather apps. If you happen to be between gigs and landscaping, My Weather Mobilewill keep you out of the rain.

Here Comes the Sun…
The Helios Sun Calculator from Chemical Wedding sports a gorgeous graphic interface that predicts the path of the sun from dusk to dawn, on any given day, in any given place. Helios is essential to anyone who needs to plan a day around the constantly changing character of sunlight. Cinematographers, Stills Photographers, First Assistant Directors, Gaffers, Grips, Location Managers, Production Designers and Producers will already be aware of the value of this information.
Helios has an internal database of over 30,000 locations around the world, providing longitude, latitude, time zone and daylight savings information. You can even save favorite locations and add the current location from GPS data (where a signal is available). Core functionality is not reliant on cell phone reception. Likewise Helios will work on the iPod Touch though you have to select a nearest location from the database or manually enter the GPS coordinates. Ten minutes with Helios, and you’ll be wondering how you got along without it.
I’ll post more of these as I find them, and have a chance to mess around a bit with the one’s most promising.  Enjoy!

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