7 Mobile Apps Every Filmmaker Should Have in Their Toolkit
Attention, filmmakers: you need these apps.
In the spring of 2013, Ooyala, the video technology company, predicted that videos on mobile devices could make up half of all online video consumption by 2016. It’s clear — and especially with younger consumers — that it’s not just video games and Funny or Die shorts being watched on phones anymore. Films, television shows, music videos and more are being devoured with greater frequency on mobile platforms. Perhaps there will be some health repercussions for our necks and eyes, but for now, we’re consuming media in a smaller space and the people on the other side of the camera and screen are adapting as well.
Here are 7 picks in the ever-evolving mobile application world of filmmaking:
How many call sheets have you had to begrudgingly print out? That might even be the sole purpose you own a printer. Or how about trying to remember that awesome PA you hired last year? If you haven’t saved your email with the call sheet, it’s pretty hard to find their contact info again. With FilmTouch though, when production sends you a call sheet, you open the email on your iPhone or iPad and tap a button to send it to the app where it gets converted within a minute, listing the job and importing all names, titles and contact info. Invented a couple years ago, the newest version downloadable in May fixed some pesky issues and the company still maintains that “this is why you bought an iPhone.”
Launched at Adobe’s creativity convention MAX in early October, Clip is an elegantly conceived app with a refreshingly minimal interface. It is a video editor app that allows you to turn the clips you shoot with your iPhone or iPad into videos, essentially doing what you’d expect, but with one exception: Clip has a nice “Edit in Premiere Pro” feature that allows you to push your basic edit straight into your Adobe Creative Cloud account, from which you can rework it further in Premiere Pro. This feature, while clearly geared toward encouraging beginning editors to make the leap to Premiere Pro, is incredibly useful for moving quick, crafted on-the-go concepts into more serious projects.
Up until a few weeks ago, the options for editing at any level on an Android tablet were close to zero. With the release of Taiwan-based Cyberlink’s PowerDirector, however, that’s no longer the case. PowerDirector is a free, surprisingly comprehensive mobile video editor for getting started, and although the ability to export to Full HD requires an in-app upgrade for $4.95, the thoughtfulness of the design and intuitive, drag-and-drop functionality of the interface introduces a new world of editing for Android devotees.
Although the mobile option is still in development, Wipster is a cloud-based video review and approval program that really seems to take the process to a more organized level. After dragging and dropping your project into the program, you share the video with collaborators who then have access to give their feedback directly on the timeline (goodbye timecode deciphering) and directly in the frame, and can even upload reference images as well. All the comments are then turned into a to-do list and once they’re checked off, the new version is ready for approval. Wipster is offering frame accurate video playback, contextual commenting and version stacking all in a simple interface that eliminates the tedium of connecting regionally disparate creative teams. There is a free version that’s perfect for indie filmmakers, and then versions up to $100/month for higher volume work.
Invented by cinematographer Rachel Morrison (“Fruitvale Station,” “Cake”), Cinescope enables users to compose and shoot photos in any aspect ratio. She had been on a shoot in 2.39 and wanted to test how various locations would photography in widescreen, but the app she had kept freezing. “It occurred to me there was a need for a simple director’s viewfinder (sans lens info) that would allow you to take high quality photos in any aspect ratio you desire and then use them for storyboards or pre-viz.” You can choose from default sizes such as widescreen 2.39, 1.85, or 1:1, or you can create your own custom aspect ratio, such as 2:1. Plus, you can shoot stills or video. After saving your selection straight to your camera roll or formatting for Instagram, you can embed your photo within a black or white square and upload to Instagram. As it’s the first iteration, founder and creator Rachel Morrison is expecting kinks, and welcoming feedback.
Spurred by the tragic death of 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones on the set of “Midnight Rider” earlier this year, Local 600 designed the Safety App to help members anonymously report unsafe working conditions on film and TV sets no matter where they are, and no matter who they are. About a month before, a group of anonymous camera crew also put out the SetSafety App. Both are free and both keep all reports anonymous, which is important because repercussions for ‘blowing the whistle’ in the film industry can often be harsh.
Originally conceived at a company hackathon earlier this year, and made public in the beginning of November, Sequence allows people to quickly combine video clips (and music) from Shutterstock’s collection with their own project. While the editing features are minimal at this point, the tool makes great sense for quickly mocking up and sharing rough concepts — and for exploring how the feel of certain stock clips might work with a particular project. Like Adobe’s Clip, Sequence is geared toward working with the product before upgrading (in this case to licensing videos), and is just as easy to use.