The best camera is the one you have with you, right? Well, not entirely true, but the iPhone has no less become an essential tool for filmmakers, both pros and newbies. If not for shooting, then for the multitude of other things you – the filmmaker – need to have a handle on.
Some of these apps work better on an iPad, so if you have one, bring it to set. If not, you’ll be fine with what’s already in your pocket. Here are 7 more reasons to always keep your phone charged on set:
If drawing isn’t your strong suit, but you still want the visual aid of storyboards, you have a couple of options. We recommend scouting your locations and taking lots of pictures from lots of angles – these will come in handy. If you have your actors hanging around anyways, not knowing what to do with themselves, snap pictures of them in the locations and see your story come to life. If you don’t have actors readily available (which you probably don’t), try an app like Storyboard Quick Direct. It lets you add characters (which are available as in-app purchases, mind you) to your location photos, zoom, angle and take notes. Before buying the app, we suggest you give their desktop demo software a try. The app is $29.99 for iPad or $19.99 for iPhone.
Granted, you will mostly be using this app before coming to set, but download, use it and keep it handy regardless. Circumstances might change when you start shooting and you will need to know how much that’s going to cost you. Movie Cost Producer will help you keep track. It’s $4.99 – but a Lite version is available for free.
Like most apps on this list, Shot Lister is somewhat self-explanatory. It’s a digital shot list, fully customizable and with a slew of awesome features, such as ‘Live Mode’ (letting you re-organize shots on-the-go, always knowing how it will affect your schedule) and the ability to import storyboards. This app brings a big – and important – part of your pre-production into the digital age. $13.99 for a fully functional version – annual subscription available for additional features.
Why carry around a clunky viewfinder when you already have a digital version in your pocket? Nostalgia, you say? Well then, take a look at these features: comprehensive database of film formats, digital cameras and DSLRs (plus you can add your custom specs, as needed), snapshots with info on format, focal length, compass direction and more, all available in an easy-to-browse gallery. $10.99 fully loaded. Honorable mention goes to Artemis Director’s Viewfinder at $29.99.
You scouted the perfect location and have been planning the shooting angles and blocking meticulously – but when you show up on set a month later, shadows are ruining your vision. Why? It’s physics. Or astronomy. Or something. It’s nature and you need to know what to expect when you’re dealing with something as powerful as the sun. With an app like Sun Surveyor (another contender is Sun Seeker) you can take the guesswork out of planning your exterior lighting. Sun Surveyor predicts the movement of the sun and shadows, gives you precise golden/blue hour schedules, and even visualizes how buildings will affect your lighting. And much more. $9.99 for the full version – less feature-heavy version available for free.
Exactly what you think it is; a digital slate. For free. Comes complete with that classic slate sound, as well as all the necessary fields, like scene number, take number, audio file number, production name, automatic date/time, and so on and so forth. Why not use it? It’s free.
This one is for the props department, especially if they wanna be nice to your VFX team. But hey, if you’re an indie filmmaker, chances are you’ll be handling both props and VFX at some point, so be prepared for anything. This handy app turns your phone into a green screen, adds markers where your actor touches the screen, adds cross markers in corners, and much more, making screen replacement easier than ever. And it’s free.
What did we miss? Tell us about your on-set digital essentials in the comments below.