Traveling around the US on the Illumination Experience cinematography tour was so inspiring. Meeting all of the filmmakers from novice to advanced was such a joy. As I walked around and talked about the cinematography arsenal that the attendees had to play with, many terms were discussed that may not always be understood. To help with this process, here are some apps that I wish I had when I was a budding young filmmaker to help navigate the waters.
You need a good film dictionary!!!!!
First we have to look to a good dictionary of all film terms, not just technical, but words and phrases that are used on set by all the departments working to bring the creation to life. My go to source for this is the GOBO film APP.
(Note: this app has since been discontinued. Sorry folks! Feel free to suggest your favorite similar app in the comments below. Here are some contenders I have yet to use: Film Dictionary, Close-Up Film Language Glossary, and Filmmaker’s Glossary)
This baby is jammed packed with all the terms needed to function in this very competitive field. You need to set yourself apart especially when you are working your way up the production, creative or tech side of the ladder.
I need that wall sled over here and grab that 4” Charlie Bar.
This app would have made my life so much easier as a cinematographer starting out especially on tech scouts. The GRIP APP has every name, along with a description of all the gear and how it is used. The app’s most useful information is all the dolly, crane and jib specs that help you plan during prep or tech scouts. I am always asked how much does that 50’ Technocrane weigh? Or how high is that? Will it fit through that doorway? It is all right at your fingertips.
How do you know what light will give you the right output to light the scene?
I get asked this question on a daily basis. For me, it is experience. While working my way up the ladder, I quickly understood what lights are used for specific applications and their output and at what distances. Now all this mystery, experience and information is available in a very intelligent app that gives you the play book. The LIGHT SOURCE App gives you the information, specs on output, full spot, full flood, distances, factoring in your ISO and the foot candles or f stop that the light will give you. Are you kidding me? No, I am not. his APP in impressive to say the least. I use it on all my scouts as well to keep up to speed with the new light technologies. Constantly updated and current, this baby is your recipe for accurate light placement and successful calculations.
Light Source Pro
Can I hang that light on that set wall? What does that Kino Flo Celeb 400 weigh?
Another app that helps with all the specs on the lights you use is the Set Lighting App. This beautiful app gives you all the lights. It is like a catalog to inspiration. It gives you full res pics along from all the different manufacturers. The app even shows you how to properly distribute power, which is a huge deal, especially when you are just starting out and you want to work with more experienced crews to up your level of expertise. Having this resource can you set you apart from the pack.
I have my 1st ACs carry this app wherever we go. On Fathers and Daughters, I was able to make some pick up shots go seamless with having the information from when we shot on set months prior available to me from when my 1st AC took notes of my meter readings, f-stop and lens. I could match the look of the scene by understanding where my values were previously set. Handbase, this baby rocks. It’s designed for managing files and just data. It wasn’t intended for the film world, but it does exactly what I need, and for only $9.99!
HandBase Database Manager
There are many apps that you can find, some that do the same as others, but they may have different techniques to them that may apply better for you. Here is a short list of more apps that I think you should look into as well.
Gel Swatch Library
Many of these apps can be your guide to explore avenues of success in the movie industry. I chose the path of starting at the bottom and learning all of this. Now you have a jump on us. Take it, seize it and own it.
Here is an update that we just learned about, this was just released a month ago, “Formats,” it has a much larger database for cameras and data conversion for only $1.99
Camera + Formats