This article is not about mobile phones replacing professional equipment. While using a mobile phone to produce specific types of content might make sense, for the most part, professional equipment still produces the best results. But mobile devices still have a crucial role in modern filmmaking.
Video production apps are changing the way we produce film and video content. They’re changing how teams share call sheets, create shot lists, scout locations, block out scenes, test visual effects and collaborate with team members all over the world. Apps provide access to information and technology on-the-go without steep costs or learning curves.
The only challenge, in this busy market, is figuring out which video production app to choose.
Because we like to make production easy, we’ve solved this challenge for you and compiled a list of video production apps that have been recommended by your peers.
The success or failure of your whole production rests on the decisions made and planning done during pre-production. These apps help you get it right.
Shot Lister – dynamic shot list and schedule management
Shot Lister is a professional shot list and scheduling app that can be used during pre-production or on set to build, organise, schedule and share shot lists and shooting schedules digitally. Its live mode allows you to track your progress on the shoot and re-arrange your schedule with the flick of a finger, and the pro subscription includes nifty extras like the ability to import and automatically break down scripts and circle good takes.
Shot Designer – block out your shotlist
Shot Designer helps you visually block camera and actor movements using an overhead diagram of your location. You’re able to create a floorplan, design lighting, plot camera and actor positions – including animations for movements – and automatically translate these visuals into a text-based shotlist that updates itself when you make changes in the diagram. The app comes with pre-made camera setups for typical layouts and lets you import production drawings to use as backgrounds as well as associate storyboard frames to specific camera positions.
With recommendations from high profile users like John Badham, Director of Saturday Night Fever and WarGames and Clint Reagan, Previz Supervisor for Indiana Jones and Hunger Games – Shot Designer should be good enough for even the pickiest amongst us!
ON THE SHOOT
The shoot is often the most expensive part of your production – which means the pressure is on. These apps help you make the most of each minute and deliver nothing but the best.
pCam Film + Digital Pro – the ultimate camera assistant in your pocket
pCam Film + Digital Pro is the DOP’s ultimate tool – offering not one, but 24 apps bundled into one package. It’s designed to help get on-set calculations done quickly, simply, and on the run and includes everything from Depth of Field to Focal Length Matching, HMI Flicker-Free, Color Correction, Diopter, Time Lapse, Underwater Distance, Beam Intensity, Light Coverage, Conversion Calculator and Time Lapse tools.
pCam was developed by Los Angeles camera assistant David Eubank over the course of almost twenty years and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 2010 and a Technical Achievement Award from the Society of Camera Operators in 2013. Can’t argue with that.
Movieslate – the Rolls-Royce of digital clapperboards
MovieSlate – does all the normal things you’d expect from a slate – like noting the DOP, actors, take numbers and helping you synch picture and sound – but expands on this with GPS information, the ability to make notes about specific shots or timecodes and circle good takes. Additional plug-ins allow MovieSlate to sync timecode with cameras, create audio info logs and more. Notes and logs can be exported into various formats so you can generate daily shot reports, maintain long-term history archives and ingest shot data into your NLE to save time in edit.
Considered the Rolls-Royce of digital clapperboards, MovieSlate boasts testimonials from respected industry veterans, and is relied on by hardware providers like Timecode Systems and Teradek.
Green Screener – for a perfect key, every time
Green Screener helps you shoot the perfect green screen without needing light-meters or waveform monitors. The app works with your device’s camera – representing different shades of green as bands so that you can test your key in-app and easily adjust and even-out your lighting. The app provides a variety of resolution and key colour options.
Green Screener is developed by the same people that make Shot Designer and comes recommended by Aaron McLane, Vfx Supervisor for MTV’s Scream at Weinstein Company. This app needs to be seen to be appreciated – watch Hollywood Camera Work’s video review here.
APPS FOR AFTER THE SHOOT
This is either where it all comes together or where you have to fix all the mistakes made earlier. These apps make it easier to do either.
AJA DataCalc – storage calculation sorted
The AJA DataCalc app helps you calculate how much storage you’re going to need for your rushes before you start to ingest your media. It works with the most popular video industry formats and compression methods and gives you the option of entering media durations in units of days, hours, seconds or frames. The favourites feature gives you the ability to save common calculations for speedy reference and you can send summary information back to base via email.
The AJA DataCalc is one of the few free apps on this list and is trusted by Natural Born Killers editor, Brian Berdan.
Editmote – review by remote control
Editmote is effectively a remote control for your FCP, Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro and QuickTime Player. You can use the app to control the playhead, add markers, set in and out points and adjust the volume remotely – perfect for controlling screenings in big theatres.
Although the app has been discontinued and won’t receive any more updates, it’s also free so worth checking out!
We love video production apps so much that we’ve recently made two of them for Forscene clients – hopefully they’ll earn your recommendations for future lists like this one!
Have we missed any video production apps that you can’t live without? Share your recommendations in the comments section!
Blackbird is best-of-breed
Jon Hanford - Group CTO, Deltatre