Filmmaking is an inherently collaborative process; rarely is an entire film created by a single person. Teams are assembled, work is divided, and a crew is deployed. As filmmakers, we’re always looking for an additional crew member or piece of equipment, but budgets often don’t allow for it. So how do we solve this problem? Better living through technology, of course. Here are five great free apps to have on set that will give you that extra lens in your kit, that extra blade in your Leatherman, or that extra filter in your Jelly Roll.
The AJA DataCalc app lets you calculate storage needs based on various factors including total roll time, frame rate, codec, and audio settings. This is a great app if you’re shooting in an unfamiliar codec or using a new camera for the first time. With so many people making the change to 4k and storage backups being as important as they are, this tool can save you the headache of having to purchase an additional drive at the last minute or, worse yet, not being able to backup your footage due to poor planning.
Kodak Cinema Tools
The Kodak Cinema Tools app is like the Swiss Army Knife of on-set apps. It will give you sunrise and sunset times based on your location, has an extensive glossary of film terms, and detailed information on Kodak film products. Naturally, since it’s Kodak, this won’t help you a lot with digital cameras, as it’s very much film-themed — but If you need to find a place to digitize your film, it will send you to the nearest transfer house. It will also tell you everything you need to know about Kodak film. Note: A couple of the app features weren’t working at the time of writing this piece, and there isn’t currently an update available, but look out for one soon.
Panascout is a very cool app that allows you to take stills and video at various aspect ratios and lens lengths. You can shoot in 1.33:1, 1.78:1, 1.85:1, 2.40:1, or a custom aspect ratio (for 99 cents USD extra). I especially enjoy the feature that allows you to record audio so you have a sample of the ambient sound in a given location. Great for taking on scouting trips to assist you in the process of taking your vision from script to screen.
This nifty little app geolocates you and tells you when you’ll get the best magic-hour light — typically about an hour or half-hour before and after sunset, depending on where you are. It has a big countdown clock to keep you on top of your schedule, and will even send you an alert if you set it. It even tracks moon cycles. Add-ons like remote location magic hours are 99 cents. (Note: Don’t confuse this one with the similarly named photo-editing app.)
I’m a big fan of this app from production-planning company Celtx for its basic digital storyboarding potential. You can combine photos, drawings (including more than 600 clipart icons), and text to effectively communicate your ideas. To maximize its utility, link it to scripts imported from your Celtx account. (Don’t have a Celtx account? Get started here.)
What other apps do you find indispensable for your productions? Let us know in the comments below!