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Filmmaking has often sat at the forefront of digital technology, so it won’t come as a surprise that there are hundreds of apps built just for us. Over the years, I’ve swarmed my iPhone with more downloads than it can handle, trying out everything in the app store like a kid in a candy shop.

As you might expect, many were completely useless (or at least not relevant), but some have changed the way I work forever. Need to see a 3D map of where exactly the sun will be at 4pm in two months’ time when you start filming? Want to know if the sunrise tomorrow morning is going to be worth the trek to shoot on location? Not a fan of math and need to calculate the intervals for your timelapse? It’s all covered here.

I’m excited to share with you the genuine gems I’ve found.

1. Meteo Earth

“Interactive 3D Globe Brings Weather to Life”Meteo Earth Filmmaking App

No one likes to be caught out in the rain, unless it’s what the script calls for. Whether you’re looking for sun, rain, cloud cover, snow, hail, or a tropical storm, Meteo Earth is by far the coolest way of seeing 24 hours into the future. Adapted from a professional weather forecaster’s tool, this app is particularly useful for checking for cloud cover and imminent rain. Where most weather apps will only give you an hourly breakdown with novel symbols, this one turns you into a by-the-minute weather man.

Available on Mac, PC, iPhone, and Android.
http://www.meteoearth.com/
Price: Free

2. Google Earth

Continuing the theme of 3D globes, Google Earth is another god-like app that I keep finding new uses for. Most major cities are mapped with 3D models, making it a fantastic virtual location scouting tool. Recently, I needed an open top, multi-story car park to the east of Denver with a clear westerly view for a timelapse. Try asking a local on the street for one of those. Google Earth helped me find one in just a few minutes. Taking it one step further, I was able to track the precise position of the sun, simulating how it would move in my actual timelapse.

Available on Mac, PC, iPhone, and Android.
https://earth.google.com/web
Price: Free

Use Google Earth For Filmmaking

3. Sun Seeker

Predict the suns movement for the perfect shot with Sun SeekerWhile Google Earth is very powerful, it’s quite time-consuming to get a prediction for the sun’s location when you’re out and about. Sun Seeker, on the other hand, uses an augmented reality approach, allowing you to point your phone at the sky and see the sun’s location at any time of day and throughout the year. I’m often seen standing in the street or on a bridge waving my phone around like an old man who thinks it’ll help him find reception. When I’m scouting a location, I take screenshots within this app. These screenshots end up becoming a part of my pre-production plans.Available on iPhone and Android.
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/sun-seeker/id330247123?mt=8
Price: Free

 

4. The Photographers Ephemeris

It’s easy to mistake me for a weather man with all of these apps but hold on, this one is unique. At the core of this app is a mapping tool for seeing how sunlight will fall on the land, at any time, anywhere on earth. It gets better. Hidden within the settings is an option called ‘Skyfire’, a unique tool for predicting where the most colourful sunrises and sunsets will be over the next 2-4 days. Want to know whether it’s worth getting up at 4AM tomorrow for a sunrise? Perhaps you can plan your shoot around an otherworldly sunset that’s going to get you the money shot. You can even set you phone to notify you when one is on the way.

Available on iPhone and Android.
https://www.photoephemeris.com/
Price for Skyfire: £28.99 per year with a 30-day free trial.

Skyfire app is great for timelapse shoots

5. DSLR Filmmaker Toolkit

At the name suggests, there are a lot of film making tools built into this one. It has helped me save some space on my phone by consolidating a few apps into one. The electronic slate (clapper board) has saved me a couple of times when I’ve been caught without one. If, like me, you’re no good at quick mental arithmetic, the timelapse calculator will get your head around all the interval and duration settings on your intervalometer. The viewfinder function will allow you to simulate almost any camera, sensor and lens combination for visualising your shots. (Artemis Director’s Viewfinder is a nice dedicated app for this, if you prefer.) If that wasn’t enough for you, it also has a shot log, depth of field calculator, and spirit level.

DSLR Video making app with slate

Available on iPhone only.
http://www.dslrtoolkit.com/
Price: £5.99

6. AJA Data Calc

This simple yet effective app lets you choose from a long list of common codecs to calculate how much storage space you’ll need. You can also reverse it to work out how much recording time you can get out of each card.Available on iPhone and Android.
https://www.aja.com/family/software
Price: Free

7. Shot Designer

This boasts being the number one filmmaking app in the Apple app store for 3 years running, as well as the ability to block out an entire scene in 30 seconds! Its main function is creating interactive camera diagrams while automatically updating a shot list as you go. You can then animate the movements in real time to get a feel for how your scene will play out. I’ve found this useful when working as a director but also for lighting diagrams. It’s nice to be able to quickly integrate photos of the set and storyboards for reference.

Available on Mac, PC, iPhone, and Android.
https://www.hollywoodcamerawork.com/shot-designer.html
Price: Free or $19.99 for Pro

Shot Designer app for planning productions

8. Green Screener

For those not accustomed to green screen, this app may look a bit strange. Green Screener has a similar effect to the false colour function of an advanced monitor by showing up changes in brightness as banding on the image. For a green screen to work effectively, it requires an even light so that it can be keyed out easily in post. This app will help you get that light just right.

Available on iPhone and Android.
https://www.hollywoodcamerawork.com/green-screener.html
Price: £9.99

Green Screener for creating perfect green screen

9. Filmic Pro

iPhones have increasingly powerful cameras that have been used to shoot some surprisingly good films (take Unsane for example, shot entirely on an iPhone 7 Plus). One of the biggest setbacks when filming on one is the automatic white balance, aperture, and focus, which can all change of their own accord mid-shot. This app gives you that control back, plus (unbelievably) Zebra, Clipping, False Colour, Focus Peaking, and even Gamma Curve controls for flat picture profiles! It just goes to show that it’s not what you have, it’s how you use it.

Available on iPhone and Android.
https://www.filmicpro.com/apps/apple/filmic-pro/
Price: $14.99

Capture video on smart phones with Filmic ProBonus App: Premiere Clip

Once you’ve shot your film on your phone or tablet, why not edit there too? Adobe has made this cut-down version of Premiere which works pretty well. You can even sync your video to music with the click of a button before sending the entire project to Premiere Pro when your eyes get tired of staring at that tiny screen.

Available on iPhone and Android.
https://www.adobe.com/uk/products/premiere-clip.html
Price: Free

Edit videos on your smart phone

There really isn’t much you can’t do with a smartphone these days, and I’ve only just scratched the surface. Although I’ve never shot and edited on my phone professionally, every other one of these apps has been instrumental in helping me get better images and making my life easier. I hope you’ll find some of them useful!

Are there any apps I haven’t mentioned that you use? Let me know in the comments below and we can expand the list for everyone.

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