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iApps for Film and Video Production

Boston’s Final Cut User Group held another Final Cut Friday session at Boston’s Apple Store.  Director Taz Goldstein of HandHeldHollywood.com was the main speaker, highlighting the latest apps and accessories to turn an iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch into a film and video production tool. Personally, the direction I’m most excited by, especially with the growing iPad adoption, is the replacement of high end, physical production consoles (like the ones used for color correction work), with cheaper, virtual control surfaces. It takes “iApps” into a whole new realm.

Here’s the list Taz considered most useful, worth trying out, or a potential “game changer”. It’s pretty extensive, ranging from the cool and exciting, to the ludicrous and silly. Note, many of these have iPhone and iPad versions out, so just because the link points to one, doesn’t mean the other isn’t supported…

Pitching

  • Keynote – Same as the Mac version. Create and present your pitch slides with this.
  • Dropbox – Great for uploading and sending files on the run, or right after a pitch.
  • Baby Names Plus – This is one you wouldn’t expect to find, but what makes this app useful is the ability to sort names by time period. So if you’re writing a script and are looking for popular character names for a specific time period, this is the app to use.
  • Screenplay – Only for the iPhone right now. And while you wouldn’t want to write a script on a phone, this is useful for making small tweaks.
  • Scriptwrite – Similar to Screenplay, but it’s user interface is less clunky. However, it’s new, so the software may still have a few kinks.
  • Scripts Pro – This is the first for the iPad, which makes the idea of writing some of your script seem a bit more reasonable.
  • Final Draft – This isn’t out yet, but it’s coming for the iPad. They’ve been holding focus groups with users of the Final Draft desktop app. Once it’s out, expect it to be the only “go to” script editing/writing app to consider.

Reading

  • GoodReader – Most flexible for importing scripts from various sources. However, it doesn’t let you make annotations.
  • iAnnotate PDF – As the name suggests, this one lets you annotate a script in PDF form. All your notes are embedded back into the PDF and preserved for sharing and review.

Acting

  • Rehearsal – Upload a script and you’re able to line it, highlight the sections specific to your character, block your lines out to test your memorization, and record other people’s lines so you can do practice run-throughs. This one’s been developed by a professional actor and tested on some high end studio TV and film productions.
  • iPerform – Manage your life as an actor, i.e. casting calls you’ve attended, what you wore at them, etc.

Casting

  • Bento – Similar to the Mac desktop app, this is a simple database great for maintaining your casting lists so you can easily search for talent based on any criteria you define (i.e. age, ethnicity, certain looks, etc.) It’s also great for crew lists and your “Rodriguez list” – this is a term coined by Stu Maschwitz, author of the wonderful DV Rebel’s Guide. It’s based on Robert Rodriguez’s tactic of listing all the possible locations and equipment you have access to that you can throw into a project to create the perception of it having a higher production value.

Release

  • mRelease – Pull up the kind of release you want, have someone sign it with their finger, take their picture if you want, and the app automatically creates a legal release form you can send to the individual. It also tracks whether you’ve sent it to someone yet or not. It’s supposedly just as “binding” as the manual process of having someone sign a hard copy of the release. The only down side is it doesn’t let you use your own release form. It’s perfect for use on small productions.

Preproduction

  • PANASCOUT – Great for location scouting. Take pictures and overlay it with metadata like geographic location, when the sun will set and rise at that location, direction you were facing when you took the picture, etc. Essentially all the information you need as a DP to plan a shot at that location when you go into production.
  • Storyboard Composer – Formally known as Hitchcock, this one allows you to create animated storyboards from pictures you take.
  • Colorsnap – Pick a color and get a listing of all its complimentary colors. Great for defining a color palette for your production.

Production

Accessories:

  • OWLE bubo – If you’re attempting to create a “real” video on your iPhone, this accessory provides a wider lens to your camera, with an onboard directional mic, and handles for added stability.
  • Steadicam Smoothee – An iPhone steadicam…a little ridiculous
  • Suction Clip – A clip with suction cups for attaching your iPhone somewhere, for that hard to get shot.
  • ProPrompter Wing – Another accessory to turn your phone into a teleprompter.
  • ProPrompter HDi – This one is for the iPad, allowing for a “through the lens’ teleprompter. You can wirelessly sync many of these from your iPhone, scroll all to a specific position, or edit the script to directly upload to all the running iPads
  • fStop Wireless – Control the camera iris remotely
  • microRemote – Redrock Micro’s accessory allows you to use the iPhone as a follow focus controller. It uses a radar setup to pinpoint exactly what the focus should be, what your “in focus” region is, and whether you’re in it or not.
  • AR Drone – A wirelessly controlled hover cam. Right now, it only allows you to see the live feed, not record yet.
  • Mikey – Great mic for recording live music, adr, foley,  etc.

Apps:

  • FourTrack – A digital four track recorder.
  • StudioTrack – 8 track recorder. Good for live music.
  • iPixPanel – Controller for Broadcast Pix’s switcher systems
  • Artemis Director’s Viewfinder – Replaces the director’s view finder. Pick the kind of lens you want to use and see what the shot will look like.
  • Artemis Remote – An add-in app to remotely view what the Artemis is seeing. Great for on set use for others to monitor the shot being set up.
  • OmniGraffle – Using the film stencils, you can use this to block the camera moves, actor movement, and lighting setups.
  • Movie*Slate – Unlike the many other corny slates out there, this one is very, very professional. Probably the coolest app on the list.
  • KeeMe – If an iPhone is in a scene you’re filming, it can be hard to get the screen to look right given lighting and refresh rates. The better way is to replace the screen with some other image in post. This app allows you to do that by displaying a green screen and markers to track the position of the phone and key in a new image in post.
  • Filmmakers Dictionary
  • Air Video – Stream movies from a computer to an iPhone or iPad. This avoids having to recompress or upload files. Just connect remotely to a computer, point to a folder, and watch the movie you want.
  • Animation Creator
  • iMotion – Animation and stopmotion capabilities for your phone.

Post

  • ReelDirector – Should be called “reel editor”. Allows for some clumsy video editing on the phone.
  • 1stVideo – A more polished editing tool. Note, use the consumer edition. The networks edition is for large media networks with a special account.
  • Pro Video Guide – Tech glossary with a heavy emphasis on post
  • Final Cut Pro Field Guide – Final Cut setup and troubleshooting. Same info you can Google for, but it comes organized for you and doesn’t require a network connection.
  • AutoStitch Panorama – Create your panorama with compositing and pans.

Hardware Controllers

Viewing

  • RunPee Mobile – A total gag app that Taz closed with. This one tells you when you can go pee during a movie (i.e. the boring parts you can miss). While you’re off taking care of business, it summarizes what you’re missing, and keeps a running clock so you know how much more time you have before you should get back to your seat.

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