The evolution of cinema has been shaped by innovations in technology. Images that once needed heavy-duty cameras and multiple people to operate them are now being captured by anyone with an iPhone. Now mobile applications are replacing physical filmmaking tools. After speaking to filmmakers and technicians, we put together a list a number of apps that are being used by industry professionals.
1. Director’s Viewfinder Apps
A director’s viewfinder lets the user simulate what a particular shot will look like without having to set up a camera and the corresponding lens. On a set, you will find them attached to lanyards hanging around the necks of directors and cinematographers. However, a good quality director’s viewfinder can set you back anywhere more than 20,000 rupees.
Enter the director’s viewfinder apps. They have extensive lists of professional cameras and lenses to choose from. In addition, they allow you to take stills to save for reference later. They are essential during pre-production, especially on location recces and available for a tenth of the price of physical viewfinders, they are must-haves for filmmakers – both aspiring and established.
Popular apps: Artemis Director’s Viewfinder, Cadrage Director’s Viewfinder
2. Shot Lister Apps
Gone are the days when you have to scurry around with a thick bunch of papers, looking for the right slot to make your entry in. Details like location, time, date, page number on script, important scene notes and more can now be fed to make a completely digital and easily shareable shot list.
With these apps, filmmakers and production heads can plan an entire shooting schedule with nothing more than a phone. They make things compact, convenient and eco-friendly.
Popular apps: Shot Lister, ShotList
3. Sun Tracker Apps
The need for running around with a compass and anticipating the sun path to set up a shot or maintain continuity has finally been alleviated. As the name suggests, these apps help photographers, cinematographers and directors track the movement of the sun and moon on any particular day. Studying the trajectory of light is extremely crucial to plan how a shot will be lit and composed and these help make the job a little easier.
Popular apps: Helios Sun, Sun Locator Lite, Sun Seeker, Sun Surveyor
Not sure which type of equipment is the right fit for your shot? Not sure which company makes the dolly or crane you’re looking for? Tired of calling different line producers, equipment salespeople and technicians to try and figure out how to use it?
theGripApp is your encyclopedia for everything grip-related – what each equipment does, how they work, how they are set up, etc. It provides pictures, specifications and manuals and is a requisite especially for those working in the technical departments.
5. Light Meter Apps
Light meters are used to gauge what sensitivity, shutter-speed and f-stop would be optimal for a well-lit frame. They are handy tools that are indispensable to professional photographers and cinematographers.
Light meter apps, that work as a substitutes, are exactly what you need if you’re not looking to buy a physical one just yet.
Popular apps: Light Meter, Cine Meter
6. Clapper Apps
Scene 4. Take 2. Action! *Clap*
The most crucial purpose that a clapperboard or film slate serves is to help make the editor’s life easier. Before every shot, several details like the scene number, take number and date are filled in and a sound is produced by clapping the board, as a cue to sync audio and video in post-production.
Replacing these tools are apps that now allow filmmakers to feed all these details into their phones. They also come with sounds and countdowns that enable the syncing of multiple cameras and sound recording equipment.
Popular apps: Digital Clapper, DigiSlate, Movie Slate
Similar to theGripApp, setLighting is a repository for all information on lights – the different makes, color temperatures, power consumption, etc. And like theGripApp, it also provides pictures, specifications, manuals and are is helpful for those working in the lighting departments.
8. pCam Pro
This app has been called the ‘cinematography swiss army knife’. It has in it 24 bundled tools that enable users to do everything from calculating the depth of field, split apertures and exposure to matching the focal length of multiple cameras. It also has conversion calculators, clapperboards and all common professional still camera, film and HD camera formats. It won an award for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences at the 62nd Primetime Emmys.