For those practicing their trade in videography and filmmaking, it’s becoming ever easier (and beneficial) to go digital. That’s not just a matter of being able to actually shoot digital — whether it’s with a professional camera or just your smartphone — it’s also about waves of apps that now enable many steps in the filmmaking process to be run entirely on a laptop, tablet, or phone. Here are seven apps that can help you replace some of the physical tools you might need on a shoot with digital ones instead.
Once you’ve finished your screenwriting and storyboarding, there’s an important next step: figuring out what to shoot. Shot Lister makes the next vital step possible. The app allows you to conveniently plan out your schedule and break your script down into the shots you’ll need to tell your story . You can even let it run live throughout your shoot day to see if you’re keeping on schedule or not, where you’re falling behind, and where you might need to cut scenes closer later in the day. If you share it with your cast and crew, they can check it out in the app as well, replacing the need for people to print out the shot list and helping to save some trees.
$13.99, Available for iOS, Android, and Mac OS
It may be a simple app, but that doesn’t mean Focus Chart is any less essential. Using a Siemens star, the program is designed to help you make sure your camera is always back-focused as you’re trying out new lenses or adjusting the ones already on. An out-of-focus camera can be a big time waster during shoots, so Focus Chart can help make sure that never happens to you. Plus, it means you can forgo bringing a clunky, plastic camera-focus tool with you.
FREE, Available for iOS and Android
Pocket Light Meter
No shoot should be without a light meter, but thanks to Pocket Light Meter you can replace a standalone physical one, making your gear bags just a little bit lighter. After all, you have your phone with you no matter what, and with the app, it becomes exactly what you need. It leverages your camera’s viewfinder to spot-meter the ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and more, so you can light your shot to perfection.
FREE for iOS (with in-app purchases), $0.99 for Android
Nobody gets into filmmaking and videography for paperwork, but if you’re aspiring to do it professionally, you can’t avoid it. There are call sheets, release forms, budgets, and more to contend with. Thankfully, there’s also Cinema Forms, which provides templates for most of the documents you’ll need. Install it on an iPad, bring it on your shoot, and you’re set. It’s especially handy for getting release forms signed, thanks to its ability to allow for digital signatures. You may need to print a document here and there, but — like Shot Lister — it can still help enable a more paperless shoot.
FREE for iOS (with in-app purchases)
Admit it, when you think of filmmaking you (at least in part) think of a clapper snapping shut and a director yelling, “Action!” Digital Clapper takes that time-honored tradition to your smartphone or tablet instead. Sure, you may miss out on the tactile feel of of a good-old fashioned physical clapper, but the app is still extremely useful. It can easily synchronize with the camera you’re using and document the vital metadata— take number, time codes, camera information — every time you let it “clap.” You can even rate the takes once they’re done, which will make the editing process down the road much easier.
FREE for Android
Luminair 3 allows you to control DMX lights (most commonly, but not exclusively, used for stage lights) with WiFi via a sleek user interface. What’s especially great about it is that it doesn’t just enable you to adjust lights on the fly, but also to create scenes with customized lighting arrangements in advance. Then, when the shoot is underway, you can select the presets you want for a particular scene, and the app takes care of everything else. It’s on the pricey side, but in the process, you can replace a traditional lighting console or dimmer board with something much more compact.
$89.99 for iOS (with in-app purchases)
Crew Time Card
Time tracking is a major component of any major shoot. You have to be mindful of call times, wrap times, lunch times, overtimes, and more. That process can be dramatically simplified with Crew Time Card. It’s especially oriented toward an adage that’s as true on a shoot as it is anywhere else: Time is money. The app allows you to be mindful of what time is costing you with calculators for hourly and day rates, meal penalties, and other expenses involved in professional shoots.
$1.99 for iOS
Looking for even more digital tools to use for your shoot? Check out our post on The 5 Best Free Apps to Have on Your Film or Video Set.