In a mere 4 days, Apple’s iPhone 4S has sold 4 million units. And since I first started writing about useful cinematography iPhone apps, there have been 18 billion apps downloaded.
Steve Jobs would be proud, no doubt, at the quick success of the iPhone 4S.
Part of that success is helped by the addition of two new carriers, but there’s another more obvious reason as well: the iPhone is, well, sexy. It oozes chic.
But where the device really shines is with software, specifically those millions of apps which completely transform the phone. For filmmakers, the right apps morph the iPhone into an indispensable part of their toolkit to help calculate everything from depth of field to overtime rates.
So here are five more killer cinematography apps waiting for you to download and utilize on set.
Download in Apple App Store
Watching a talented gaffer or best boy light is sort of like watching a street artist paint an incredible mural while everybody walks by. They stay quietly productive, but it’s clear from their efforts that they have an incredible knowledge of the process.
For those of us who are less talented — or whom juicer is just another hat and not a primary job — Light Source Pro is a great guide to the technical side of lighting.
The most prominent feature is that you can insert certain camera parameters like T-stop, ISO, and FPS then search for lamps capable of supplying enough illumination for those conditions.
If you got into camerawork for composition and lighting is your weakness, this app could be a nice crutch until you grow your legs. Or if you’re a new gaffer still feeling your way around setups, you could benefit from having this as backup in your pocket.
I am no electrician, however, so if you are and you’ve used this app, please sound off in the comments with how useful it truly is.
No longer available because of a dispute with the David Eubanks, the creator of a competing app.
Currently sitting pretty at an introductory price of $0.99, cineCalc really gives you bang for your buck. The app is split into two sections — Camera and Lighting — which do things like:
- Focus Splits
- Lens Matching
- Light Intensity Calculations
- Power Equations
- Insert Slating
The app also covers more traditional areas like depth of field and field of view calculation. When I downloaded cineCalc, I was extremely impressed with the scope of its functionality.
As if the abilities of the app aren’t enough, its interface and design is beautifully simple. It basically loads up its own home screen full of all the different apps within the app. It also modeled its settings screen off the ARRI Alexa Camera Simulator.
If you have to pick one cinematography related app, go with cineCalc — it does just about everything.
Action Log Pro
No longer available in App Store
Since the iPhone first came out, it seemed destined to be used as an information gathering device. Maybe it’s the way you can scroll through a list or simply dial in a number, but the interface was just begging to be used on set to log takes.
And yet many apps have come up just a little bit short when attempting to do this — Action Log Pro being the latest to throw their hat in the ring. The verdict?
Like the others, it’s not quite fully there.
My problem with most of these logging apps is there is too much input time. None of them are faster than using a pen or a pencil.
The only real benefit is being able to have digital files of the information and e-mail them, which Action Log Pro does. And, to be fair, its ability to import into Final Cut Pro or Avid is nice as well.
It also has the ability to sync timecode (time of day or free running) across multiple cameras and will continue logging in the background via multitasking.
Download in Apple App Store
Moviola was founded in 1923 and is well known for their editing machines. So when I saw they were offering an app, my interest was piqued.
Unfortunately, it seems to be your standard faire: an app that offers technical information on a variety of cameras. Don’t get me wrong — that stuff is useful, but its territory already covered by other apps that cost less or nothing at all.
In terms of appearance, you hope for more from Moviola, a fairly well known company, but instead you’re left with a design that looks like it was transplanted from local school district web page.
Of course, bad design doesn’t dilute good information — and there is certainly plenty of that in Pro Camera Guide — but its mention on this list is only because of the brand name recognition, otherwise: “eh.”
Download in Apple App Store
Set Lighting is an app designed to go hand-in-hand with theGripApp (featured in part six), where it provides balance to among Grip & Electric app offerings.
The scope of the program is similar — it wants to be the absolute reference for electricians, best boys, and gaffers. To do this, it provides tons of information on types of lights, bulbs, scrims, as well as diagrams of common setups, power equations, and other reference material.
Similar to theGripApp, setLighting doesn’t distract with an overly complex interface or design scheme. As such, it looks pretty dry, but maybe that’s because there’s no attempt for this app to be more than what it is.
You’ll appreciate that setLighting is straightforward and to the point — it’s a good thing — because nothing is more frustrating than flashy visuals getting in the way of raw information.
Take Advantage of Your Versatile iDevice
If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch in your possession and you’re not using it on set, you are wasting the true potential of your device.
I’m not one for hyperbole, but I do consider my iPhone an incredibly valuable tool with me on set. I use it for everything from leveling cameras to checking depth of field to slating insert shots.
And there’s one good reason for that: it’s versatile.
Your phone keeps you connected, but it also makes you more efficient with the right apps. And when you’re talking speed for camera assistants, every little adjustment helps.