So many apps, so little time. How do you choose the best apps to give even the most micro-budget film workflows and functions to rival any Hollywood blockbuster? Simple, we’ll do it for you. Here’s our top five.
By: Nicole Boyd
Shot Lister is worth its weight in gold and we’re declaring it the best available at this price. It allows you to precisely map out and schedule your shot list to industry standards with multi-cam and PC support. Collaborate, edit and rearrange shots on the fly, track in real time as you shoot, and easily share it with your crew (via pdf if they don’t own the app). Additional features such as script incorporation, which instantly builds a project with scene data and cast list, storyboard importation and viewing, and circle take, which quickly tracks your best take, are available as a reasonably-priced subscription-based service.
The beauty of this app is that it frees you from being stuck at your computer for hours, agonising over Excel sheets – now you can agonise on the train or laying in bed. Nor do you or your crew need to scribble on endless bits of paper as Shot Lister allows you to simply reorganise your shots as you film. The Live Production mode is particularly great to work with as it instantly informs everyone (with a smartphone) if your shoot is on schedule or not and if it’s behind, how much time you will need to make up. It’s a flexible, completely customisable, brilliant little app.
These are minor complaints but the interface could be more attractive, and there’s a lot of wasted space on the iPad version at least, that could be better used.
Shot Lister is $14.99 (AUD) and is currently only available for iOS via iTunes
Developer Zack Lipovsky is trying to raise funds through a Kickstarter campaign; more info here: www.kickstarter.com
STORYBOARD QUICK DIRECT
This is the mobile app of PowerProduction’s well-known Storyboard Quick and Storyboard Artist software. It supplies vector graphics of human figures in simple positions, along with arrows for camera direction to create your storyboard frames, and you can use your camera or photo stream for background and location images. Upload your project to can edit it on your computer (this requires additional Storyboard Quick software), and more character poses from PowerProduction’s professional apps are available as in-app purchases.
This is a very quick, easy to use storyboarding tool and is particularly useful for filmmakers who can’t draw. The vector graphics are easy to manipulate, using gestures to enlarge or rotate them into the positions you want. It looks attractive and incorporates well with PowerProduction’s professional apps, and it allows you to export each frame to your camera roll (although unfortunately without your captioned screen directions).
This app is a little pricey for what you get. The limitations on exportation detract from what could otherwise be a very practical storyboarding application. It’s useful if you’re incorporating it with the professional software but you may be disappointed if you’re buying it as a stand-alone app.
AJA DATA CALC
This is a handy free app for editors and post production that quickly and easily calculates storage requirements using popular industry formats and compressions. There is support for numerous codec and format types along with a range of popular frame rates, including audio sample and bit rate types.
This app could not be simpler to use. Place your shot duration at the top, scroll through your source video format and fps, and then scroll through to your conversion type. The amount of storage required then appears like magic at the bottom. It’s simple, attractive, does the job and best of all, it’s free.
What’s not to like? Not much: maybe they could add more codec options, and an Android version would be great.
AJA DataCalc is free and available for iOS via iTunes with PC and Mac versions available here: https://www.aja.com/en/software
POCKET CALL SHEET
This is a simple call sheet creator for iOS that allows you to quickly produce detailed production and individual specific call sheets including weather, cast and crew, department, scene information and everything else you would expect.
This Australian-developed app lists all the information you need to edit in tables. There are plenty of YouTube tutorials for it but you probably won’t need them; the app is pretty straight-forward. It has a clean interface and allows you to add people directly from your contacts list; they will then receive an email with their day’s call sheet. We particularly like the ability to advance your information for the next day’s sheet, and being able to use early projects info. The HTML email of our test project looked fantastic and the PDF was even better. ADs can spend hours creating call sheets in Excel or Word – this app will save a lot of time and is reasonably priced; it’s definitely a tool you want in your arsenal.
We have only minor quibbles for this handy little app. It seems remiss that you’re unable to add map images (though you can add Google Maps links) – even Street View or location photos would be a good addition. Also while you can add signatures, they need to be signed in directly to the app rather than via an image or sig file, which could be annoying if you don’t happen to be with your director or producer. Lastly, we’d prefer to be able to delete tables we’re not using – not everyone has an executive producer or 2nd ADs.
Pocket Call Sheet is $7.49 (AUD) and is currently only available for iOS via iTunes.
TIZA DSLR SLATE 20/20
We know that nothing is more satisfying then slapping down the clapper on your slate board. However, with slates costing upwards of $1000, few Indie filmmakers can afford them; which is why clapper/slating apps are so popular. Unfortunately, most low-cost clapper apps come with little else than the ability to change the slate. Tiza has a lot more functionality and, for it’s price, it’s a quality app to own. If you’re a micro-budget filmmaker then you seriously should consider this app for your slating needs.
The app uses audio and visual cues for syncing along with a time-keeping number sequence (not actual timecode) and a colour chevron. The slating itself is simple, but also adds options’ such as camera, lens and memory card to the list. We particularly liked the quick show buttons for sound; having removed the ‘MOS’ they’ve added options like INT and EXT, a microphone ON&OFF option as well as the sound source (camera or boom). We also liked the added option of logging your shots by keeping a screen grab of the entire board and emailing them to your editor; which is really useful for keeping a list of the best takes. We also appreciated the added functionality of a framing guide, incorporating the iPad camera and masking the different aspect ratios; something sorely needed when shooting with a DSLR
Including a timecode sync with camera would be nice but isn’t entirely necessary if your sound recordist isn’t timecoded. Shooting in DSLR makes timecoding across the board impossible without extra cables. So, although it would be a great addition, it’s not integral for slating.
Tiza DSLR Slate 20/20 is $1.99 (AUD) and is only available for iPad.
In our Next Issue, we have even more apps and accessories for you to add to your filmmaker arsenal– STAY TUNED.