Below are listed some of the iPhone apps I personally use, as well as others that are useful to camera assistants, cinematographers and filmmakers alike.
pCam Film+Digital Calculator
David Eubanks’ pCam is the creme de la creme of depth of field calculator apps on the iPhone. And to be honest, checking my depth of field is what I use my iPhone for most.
In fact, this is what I believe makes the iPhone one of my most valuable tools on set is that I can calculate my depth of field quickly, accurately and discretely so when the director of photography asks me what it’s at, I know or can let them know within seconds.
pCam was created by David Eubanks, a first assistant camera himself, originally for Palm devices but has since been updated and ported for Apple’s smartphone. It does all sorts of formats: from 16 mm to 35 mm to RED One to 2/3″ HD chips – all of them.
You get your money’s worth in compatibility.
But it isn’t simply a DoF calculator, it does much more including field of view, exposure, running time, HMI safe speeds, and even extends to help with filters and lighting illumination. In terms of versatility and usefulness, nothing compares. However, there are many out there who shoot mainly on RED or own a RED and don’t need the extra capability of film formats to which I recommend the much cheaper…
Website – iTunes
UPDATE: iSee4K is no longer available. The guy developing the app did not renew his developer license (with a fee) so it was yanked from the store.
iSee4K is focused almost entirely on REDone depth of field and storage calculations. Although there is the ability to calculate for 16mm and 35mm film formats.
iSee4K is the app I use the most on RED shoots. It’s setup is simple, easy to understand, quick to input and it is fairly accurate. What is even more valuable about iSee4K is it’s features that allow you to deal with data management on the RED.
It has screens to calculate running time for various storage formats, the ability to calculate how much storage you will need for a certain amount of footage, and other data managing options. This feature is incredibly handy when changing frame-rates, resolutions or aspect ratios because it is simple to find out how much time can be shot on a CF card, for example, since the back of the RED only displays a percentage.
For it’s price, iSee4K is a serviceable app when working with the REDone. I would still recommend pCam to those who can afford just out of sheer versatility, but for those investing their money in other tools, you can’t beat free.
Artemis Director’s Viewfinder
I haven’t ever personally used Artemis, but it’s premise sounded intriguing and I thought some readers might be interested in it if they hadn’t heard of it yet.
What Artemis allows you to do is use your iPhone’s camera to take a picture then overlay over that picture estimated field-of-view for different lens sizes. It’s essentially a quick Director’s Finder that allows you to “see” with different lenses all at once. So that way you can determine between the 50mm or the 85mm or even a 50mm and a 25mm.
Like I said, I haven’t used Artemis. Some of the reviews complain that the wide-angle estimations are off in comparison to the actual field-of-view on the camera, but this is only an iPhone app. I don’t think anybody would substitute this over a real director’s finder if they could afford one.
But it does allow for some estimations and gives you a general idea of the relation between the different lens sizes, for this, it might be worth the money to some of you. As an AC, this app probably wouldn’t be very useful, but those working low budget cinematography might find this app helpful since most of the time it’s hard to convince a line producer to throw in a finder to the budget.
This is the first article in a series called Useful Cinematography iPhone Apps.