Our mobile phones have become far more than just phones a while ago. They are a tool which keeps advancing every day, and every single aspect of our lives has an app designed especially for it.

A butterfly is wondering how something can be done on the other side of the world, and instantly, someone develops an app for it. In today’s videography field there are many amazing mobile applications, such that will save you a lot of time, unnecessary calculations and money.

I’ve put together for you the best apps for the D.O.P. and camera assistant. A warning – not all of them are free, but the best of them range between 10-30$. Personally, I find it a reasonable expanse for the professional D.O.P and camera assistant. The “Old Timers” among us can tell you how they used to pay a lot of money on quality aids or on professional literature in order to be more knowledgeable, more professional. Today it’s much simpler. Everything is available online.

  1. Cameras + Formats

How many times have you asked yourselves (or the camera rental house) how long can I record on that 64GB card in 4K? And in HD? And if I change the codec, how long then?

The amount of cameras today and abundance of formats make it practically impossible to keep track of it all. The good news is that you just don’t have to. In the Camera + Formats app you can find all that information, with a list of over 40 cameras, from Alexa and Red all the way to GoPro. All the known formats and all the uncommon ones, ProRes, DNxHD, AVCHD, MPEG are there, and many more.

If that’s not enough, you’ll also find in the app info about each of the cameras in the market: dynamic range, light sensitivity, sensor size, recording speed, color sampling. It will even let you know if your footage is compatible with the various editing software out there: Avid, Final Cut Premiere etc.

You’re always more than welcome to call and ask us those questions, we’ll be more than happy to answer, but just so you know, it’s there.

 

  1. MovieSlate® 8

Many apps provide clappers and slates, but 2. MovieSlate® 8 is considered the creme de la creme of slates!

Today, when we’re back to separate image and sound recording, a clapper is a necessity. Of course, one can always keep applauding the cast and crew before each take, and it will do the trick,  but it’s far better to have an impressive and professional digital clapper on your iPhone or iPad.

Apart from the basic information on the display, such as, scene, shot, take numbers, date, director’s and D.O.P.’s names, you can also add the camera info’s, such as resolution, white balance, ISO, iris, shutter speed, camera’s position, distance to subject, and much more. And most impressive – a Timecode! The slate has a digital timecode that can be synced with other recording devices via Wi-Fi or the headphones’ output (with extra charge).

Considering the 1000$ a “real” digital slate will cost you – this app is a real bargain.

 

  1. Artemis Director’s Viewfinder

Up until a couple of years ago I too used a director’s viewfinder, that tube that you could look through, zoom in or out, and it would tell which lens you need for the perfect shot: is it a 20mm, or better go for the 50mm, etc. Naturally, the lens’ focal length depends on the camera used, or more accurately, on the size of its sensor.

In the original director’s viewfinder, you had 4-5 options to choose from: 35mm Film, 16mm Film, a 2/3 Video Chip or the 1/3in.

Today with the huge variety of cameras and sensors, this is really not enough. For a long time now there’s not a general standard sensor size, plus there are so many in-betweens and each camera has it slightly different… Go figure what will the real result be…

So what’s easier than to pull out your smartphone, snap a pic, and see exactly which lens is the optimal one? It’s great for location scouting, and saves heaps of time during shooting. There are of course many other director’s viewfinder apps, but Artemis is most definitely the most popular of them all, and there’s almost no D.O.P or director who don’t use it.

  1. Simple DoF Calculator

Want to calculate the depth of field? Simple DoF presents it simply and clearly.

All you have to do is choose the camera type, iris, focal length distant from the subject and the app will show you clearly the depth of field you will get, the minimal and maximal focus, and the total focus range. You can choose from a wide array of cameras, and choose metric or imperial.

It’s simple and useful.

 

  1. Focus Chart

Want to check if your back focus is in line? Make sure that your lenses are sharp?

Here’s a simple and basic app that turns the smartphone into a Focus Chart. Extremely useful for a D.O.P. or the camera assistant.

  1. Cine Meter II

It’s quite amazing that the Cine Meter II app can transform our smartphone into an accurate light meter. The latest version can even measure accurately color temperatures in kelvin units.

It is a light meter with false color and RGB waveform displays, it can be fed with info regarding shutter speed, ISO, ND filters and any other deduction of light made by any filters you might use.

This is the most advanced light meter that I know of, and to top it all – its price is ridiculous.

*You’ll need an external device by Lumu (230$), or Luxi (30$).

 

  1. pCAM FILM + DIGITAL PRO

pCAM FILM + DIGITAL Incorporaite 24 different cinematography apps:

Depth of Field – Hyper focal – Image Circle – Splits/Aperture Finder – Field of View (Picture Sizes) – Field of View Preview in both Portrait and Landscape camera positions (with 8 images to size shots) – Angle of View – Relative Sizes (compares sensors) – Focal Length (lens) Matching – Triangulate – Exposure – Running Time to Length – Shooting to Screen Time – HMI Flicker-free – Color Correction (choosing color correction filters) – Diopter – Macro – Time Lapse – Underwater Distance – Scene Illumination (beam intensity) – Light Coverage (width/distance) – Mired Shift (with suggested color correction gels) – Light (Eye-light or Catch-light) – Light Effects (Animated light effects; fire, strobe, neon, siren, etc.) – Conversion calculator – Siemens Star (Focus chart) – Insert Slate – Reference (Technical charts, lists and tables: Cine Film stocks, Cine Lens Manufacturers, False Color/Exposure Change, Miniature Shooting, Safe Panning Speeds, Zone System).

So if you are looking for the one app to rule them all, pCAM is the one for you.

  1. Sun Seeker

Planning on catching the rays of sun shining in through the window, but you don’t know when will the magic moment be? After all, the sun for us is the biggest and most powerful light in the universe, and totally free! But there is a fly in the ointment, that light source keeps moving and changing its place. With Sun Seeker, you can know exactly where the sun will be each and every hour, so you can plan precisely the perfect timing for each shot.

  1. Magic Hour

It’s a well-known fact that the prettiest of times to shoot is the magic hour.

These are the last minutes of sunlight, just before it disappears below the horizon, or the first moments of sunrise. This is when the “magic” happens, the light is melancholic and splendid, making the pictures just as melancholic and splendid.

Want to capture the magic? Magic Hour app will show you exactly how long till the magic begins, it’s starting time and ending time. What it basically does is, calculate when the sun is 6 degrees above and bellow the horizon.

Not for the sun lovers exclusively. Planning a full moon party? Want to have a full moon for those night shoots? The app also lets you know when the is moon rising, when it disappears and when it is full.

  1. FiLMiC Pro

And finally, want to turn your smartphone into the head camera?

It’s been done already, with a bunch of feature films shot entirely with an iPhone. The most famous one is Tangerine, which caused a major stir at Sundance 2015 film festival. And then there’s this Bentley Motors commercial…

 

#Tangerine feature film, shot entirely with an iPhone

 

#Behind the scenes of the Bentley ad, shot entirely with an iPhone

 

All those film makers used FiLMiC Pro, in order to obtain full manual control of the iPhone, turning it into a professional camera, allowing them to set all the required parameters: frame rate, zoom speed, audio gain, color temperature, shutter speed, ISO, focus, and more.

 

In conclusion, some food for thought.

We can only guess that we are on the verge of a new era, so try and imagine, where else can it all evolve? Today most of the apps are still only an aiding tool for the cinematographer, but would it be farfetched to think of the day the app will stop being a tool, and become the main thing?

Is it possible that sooner or later we shall replace the professional camera with the professional application?