Best Apps for Moviemakers 2011


Ah, how things have changed in just one short year. When we published our first list of 25 must-have apps for moviemakers in last year’s Future of Moviemaking edition, the world of apps was still a relatively new one. Last year’s list included only one app exclusively for the then-brand-new iPad, and today’s newest technological toy du jour, the iPad 2, wasn’t even on the radar.

This year’s list is still Apple-centric, though the recent (and growing) popularity of Android-based devices has given rise to some helpful apps for this year’s list, as well. By 2012 there will be even more apps that let us easily organize script ideas, keep track of auditions, create storyboards and who knows what else.

Unless otherwise indicated, all of the apps below are compatible with the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

= Android Only
= iPad Only

Acacia, FREE • If you’re the first camera assistant, you assist the cinematographer with keeping the image in focus. But who assists you? That would be Acacia, which makes the life of the 1st AC a little bit easier by calculating depth of field and hyperfocal distance.

AJA DataCalc, FREE • AJA DataCalc performs a simple yet indispensable function: You tell it a few key bits of information—like your video’s length, frame rate and resolution—and it tells you how much storage space your video will require, and gives you the option of e-mailing a summary of its calculations. The app was designed by AJA Video Systems, an award-winning company specializing in editing and conversion hardware, and the app’s no-frills interface was designed with the hectic work schedule of the video pro in mind.

Almost DSLR, $1.99 • There are plenty of apps out there that let people edit video and photos they’ve taken with their iPhones. But moviemakers are less concerned about whether they can make their video sepia-toned than they are with technical concerns like “Will it be in focus?” With almost DSLR you can control the focus point, exposure point and white balance of video and still shots.

CamCalc, $1.99 • Cinematography literally means “writing with light,” and though a good cinematographer is an artist, there are still a lot of technical concerns he or she can’t ignore, like depth of field, field of view and color temperature. CamCalc can calculate such things for you, so you spend less time trying to get your footage in focus and more time realizing your goal of becoming a cinematic da Vinci.

Celtx Script, $4.99 • There are many screenwriting apps out there, but what makes Celtx Script special is how seamlessly it integrates with Celtx’s pre-production management software and the online collaboration facilitator Celtx Studio. You can start your script on your desktop using Celtx’s free software, use your iPhone to write that brilliant scene you just thought up while on the subway and then use Celtx Studio to share your work with potential producers and investors.

Cinemek Storyboard Composer HD, $29.99 • With Storyboard Composer, featured in last year’s list, moviemakers could use their phone’s camera to create entirely digital storyboards. The new iPad version of the app benefits from the tablet’s increased size, but the app developer Cinemek hasn’t slacked off on adding new improvements. Now users can better organize their scenes, view a panel and the overall storyboard at once and share their storyboard with others by sending it as a .CSC file.

Cut Notes, $7.99 • To use this app, simply start your video on your editing software of choice, press Cut Notes’ play button at the same time and—voilà!—you’re in business. When you make a note in Cut Notes about a flubbed line or an audio hit, the timecode is automatically saved as well, so you don’t have to worry about scribbling it down longhand (and having to decipher your handwriting later).

Doddle Pro, $9.99 • When we wrote about Doddle in last year’s list, it was a handy 24/7 mobile production guide. This year there’s Doddle Pro, which moviemakers can use to create and electronically distribute call sheets in addition to everything they could do with Doddle’s previous incarnation. DoddlePro also makes it easy for any environmentally-conscious producer to edit and re-send call sheets, saving a few trees in the process.

DSLR Slate, $9.99 • DSLR Slate allows for input of all the things you’d find on a traditional slate, like the project name and the director, plus the scene and take numbers. But it also provides fields for white balance, shutter speed, aperture and more, so DSLR moviemakers can better keep track of all their camera settings.

EditCalc, $0.99 • For editors who want an inexpensive timecode calculator that will effortlessly switch back and forth between timecode, frames and footage, look no further. EditCalc is simple, accurate and allows for input of various frame rates and footage types for easy customization, all for under a dollar.

Festival Genius, FREE • Festival Genius, made by the movie-oriented technology company Slated, has been a godsend for film festivals, as it allows attendees to put a festival’s schedule in their hands—literally—in a form that’s simple, yet packed with content. With the new Festival Genius app, all of the festival information you used to have to access on a big old computer (think screening times and venues) is now easily accessible on your iPhone. Good for festival staff, directors, fans… good for everyone, really.

GoodReader, $4.99 • Okay, so this app wasn’t made exclusively with moviemakers in mind. You’ll forgive us for including it, though, because it’s just so darn helpful. This app makes it possible to read large PDF files—say, a script you’re interested in producing—take notes on it and then sync the annotated file to other services like GoogleDocs, all on your iPod or iPad.

iMovie, $4.99 • Make your movie from start to finish with Apple’s iMovie app. You can start with video and audio captured on your iPhone (or iPad) and then edit it in iMovie. Once you’ve added visual and sound effects, transitions and titles, use the app to share your finished product with the world.
iPerform, $5.99 • A lot of work goes into being an actor. You have to build contact lists, get headshots taken, keep track of auditions (figuring out how to get to them is also good) and organize receipts for tax purposes, in addition to other tasks less fun than performing in front of an audience. iPerform makes it easier for actors to stay on top of all those little (but essential) administrative tasks.

Index Card, $4.99 • You might not think an app named after something you can buy for $1.99 at Staples would be all that helpful. You’d be wrong. This app harnesses the organizational power of the index card, used by screenwriters for just about as long as there have been movies, allowing scribes to easily record, manage and structure story ideas. You can also compile the notes into a single document compatible with most word processing programs.

Movie Magic Scheduling To Go, $29.99 • This app takes all the functionality of Entertainment Partner’s Movie Magic Scheduling software and makes it portable. You start with a schedule that you’ve created with the software version; from there, it’s easy to view and change your entire production schedule. One particularly helpful aspect of the app is that it will alert you to scheduling conflicts, so it’ll be easy to see if you’re somehow supposed to be in two places at once.

PCam Film + Digital Calculator, $29.99 • The cinematography calculator pCam started out on the Palm Pilot (remember those?) in 1998. Its developer, David Eubank, has worked as a camera assistant for Wes Craven, Peter Weir, David O. Russell and more. Eubank knows what an app like pCam should be: Easy to use, quick to operate and accurate. Oh, and pCam is the only app on this list that has won an Emmy (it won an Engineering Plaque in 2010).

Pocket Call Sheet, $6.99 • Pocket Call Sheet does just what you think it does: Lets you create and distribute call sheets from your iPhone or iPad. What makes this app so useful is the little things, like how you can import contact information from your device’s address book and how customizable the app is (for example, Pocket Call Sheet makes it easy to set different call times for different departments).

RealD Professional Stereo3D Calculator, $99.99 • Okay, let’s get this out of the way: Yes, this is an expensive app. But it’s also an incredibly useful one if you’re excited to discover the possibilities of 3-D but don’t know where to begin. Shooting in 3-D can be a bit daunting, but this app helps by determining the best setup for your 3-D rig. It takes into account things you might not have thought were important, like the distance between your audience and the screen. This isn’t just an elementary 3-D calculator, though. It has enough detail that it’s an indispensable tool for experienced stereographers as well.

Rehearsal 2, $19.99 • You’ve gone to the audition, gotten a callback and have been offered the role of a lifetime. Good for you! But before showing up on set and delivering that Oscar-worthy performance, guess what? You have to learn your lines. With Rehearsal 2, you can highlight your script, create notes and record your lines for playback. You can also enable blackout mode, where your lines will be blacked out until you make them visible again, making sure your memorization skills are up to the challenge.

Screenplay, $4.99 • Screenplay, the first mobile screenwriting app, is fully compatible with Final Draft, so once you’ve hammered out a scene using your iPhone, it’s easy to export it to your computer and continue where you left off. Your script can also be exported as a text file for ease of use with other software programs.

Simple DoF Calculator, $1.99 • Use Simple DoF Calculator to quickly and easily find out depth of field and hyperfocal distance. Just select which camera you’re using (check the app’s list of supported cameras to see if yours is included; it probably is), input your aperture, focal length and focus distance and the app will tell you what you need to know.

SL Director’s Viewfinder, $9.99 • iPod-toting directors have apps like Artemis Director’s Viewfinder (included in last year’s list) to help them frame shots. For Android users, there’s SL Director’s Viewfinder, which simulates different cameras, formats and lenses. The app also lets you take snapshots, with camera information attached to the image for future reference.

Storyboards Premium, $14.99 • Storyboard Premiums’ library of images, consisting of hundreds of characters and props, and the iPad’s touch interface, make it possible to design professional-looking storyboards even if your drawing skills are nonexistent. You can try the app out by downloading the free version, just called Storyboards, which lets you create two storyboards with 10 drawings for each. If you like it, spring for the Premium version, which offers you unlimited storyboarding capabilities.

VelaClock Sun/Moon, $3.99 • At first glance it might not be obvious why a world clock could be so important to moviemakers. But VelaClock does more than just tell you that 1:30 in New York is 6:30 in London. It provides detailed information on how many daylight hours a city gets at any point during the year, so if you’re shooting in Helsinki in early February you won’t be surprised when the sun sets around 4:30 p.m.

Did we miss an app that you can’t live without? Let us know by e-mailing us at {encode=”apps@moviemaker.com”}. MM

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