Friday, November 6, 2009

Is That a Slate in Your Pocket? - Smart Phone Apps for Filmmakers

You ever try to make a phone-call using your film slate? I’m sure you think that would be rather silly, but in today’s world of digital technology, why should anyone be surprised?

Amongst the over 100,000 iPhone applications available, there are now apps tailored specifically for the needs of filmmakers. The Zippo and Beer apps are important on set, sure, but now there is an ever-expanding selection of applications that can actually be practical to us.

For example: the slate. I have seen more than one low budget film using a makeshift slate, and I think every single set I have been on, someone cries “all eyes out for the dry-erase marker!” Well now your iPhone can be used as a slate with the Movie Slate App. At $9.99, it’s cheaper than the clunky original and saves you the running through pack after pack of double A’s.

The TapeMeasure. It’s use is pretty self-explanatory and it works by using the built in GPS. Useful for measuring in Meters or Yards, not inches though.

Or Gel Swatch Library. A made-for-video-lighting app that transforms your screen pixels into a small light, emitted in whatever standard gel color your cinematic eye desires. Sure, it might only be for tests and close-ups, but it still comes in pretty handy.

Also helpful for the low-budget filmmaker are the Calculators:

The Power Load Calculator (helps you calculate the load on a circuit so you can avoid blowing a fuse and keep a safer set), Depth of Field Calculator, TimeCode Calculator and the Film Rate Calculator, just to name a few. There is even a LightMeter that uses the camera to calculate perfect exposure!

A bunch of apps made for general use also happen to be particularly useful during production or pre-production.

Weather Underground or The Weather Channel apps, as well as the sunrise & sunset apps like Magic Hour can really help you plan your shoot for example, or any of several photo organizers to keep your stills in order.

There are always a million different tasks to do on set and it seems like more and more of them are now doable with a single device.

Follow Up Questions:
1. What iPhone apps do you find most useful on set?
2. And what type of filmmaking apps would you like to see in the future?
Leave a comment below!


Here's an even more comprehensive List of iPhone Filmmaking Apps courtesy of a comment by Samatha Halfton at the World Wide Angle Blog and written by Derrick Faw. Thanx for the tip!

Indie Film Guru Peter Broderick on the New Indie Landscape

This is Part 1 of a two part interview with notable indie film consultant, Peter Broderick, who was also the executive producer of Paper Chasers directed by Maxie Collier. Thanx to Maxie who posted this on his new Digital Media Recipes site so I could discover it and post it here for y'all...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Star Wars Fans Gotta See This...

Just for my Star Wars geeks, here's a little seen behind-the-scenes photo of twin Princess Leias from During a break in shooting on Return of the Jedi. Carrie Fisher and her stunt double, Tracy Eddon, are soaking up some rays and no doubt a million adolescent (and post-adolescent) Star Wars geek fantasies.

(I've repeatedly tried to convince my wife that the Princess Leia bikini is what all the hot women are wearing on the beach, but she just won't take the bait. If only we lived on Tatooine!)

On a related note, I'm not sure if there are still tickets left in your area, but later this month I'm taking my six-year old Star Wars fanatic son to see Star Wars In Concert, which is a musical tribute to the film series featuring a full live orchestra playing those famous themes over Star Wars montages and perhaps, most intriguing for hardcore fans, they will also be displaying many of the original Star Wars props and costumes that have only previously been shown at a limited run at the Smithsonian museum almost a decade ago.

So it is a rare (and pricey) opportunity to see some scenes on a giant HD screen with live music and a classic museum exhibit. I'll let you know what I think of the show. At $82.00 a ticket though, we better both be wowwed and my son shouldn't stop smiling for at least a month!

Star Wars In Concert Trailer

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

60 Minutes Exposes the Soft-Focused World of Video Pirates

From a consumer standpoint, I've never really got the whole pirate DVD thing...just about every bootleg video I've ever seen looks and sounds like doody and didn't even come close to the real movie or even DVD experience. How anyone can sit through people munching popcorn and talking in the background over fuzzy-focused shaky images and crappy audio is beyond me.

As a filmmaker, of course I hate it. It affects us even as indies by sucking away money from studios that might've otherwise gone to help keep Studio indie divisions afloat longer. It also ultimately makes the studios more financially risk-averse which means less indies will even get a shot at financing and distribution and we'll keep seeing more and more mega-franchise films and sequels.

And from what I've observed, even if a film is an indie and it's a hit, it will be bootlegged just as quick as "Wolverine" or "Batman" taking away the few precious dollars that may have trickled back into the fimmaker's and investors' pockets. On top of all that, it's not just small-time crooks and street hustlers anymore, organized crime and terrorists networks worldwide are now getting in on this easy money. So the implications are more than just some already rich people in Hollywood complaining about being ripped off...the problem runs much deeper than many realize.

On the flip side, I think that the studios need to seriously rethink their domestic/international platform release model as well as their continued insistence on a long window between theatrical and DVD release dates. That model worked before the digital age, but just like the record companies, the Studios are going to have to evolve and find a way to change with the times or be run over by progress. The people want their movies now, and the studios best figure out a way to give it to them, or they WILL find a way to get what they want...even if it's a crappy illegal half-assed video fake.

No industry or individual has ever succeeded with a strategy of trying to cling to the past way of business and impede the inevitable changes in technology and consumer-demand. The digital age is scary. It is a new ball game. Our industry has to learn the new rules and keep playing or sit on the sidelines while the new kids take control of the field.

60 minutes ran a good story Saturday outlining the whole pirate DVD issue. What do YOU think...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Technical Practical Double Header On the Next Double Down Film Show

On the next Double Down Film Show we have a double-header of filmmaking knowledge. First up is colorist, Eric Alvarado (Sex and the City, Fog of War, Tupac:Resurrection), who’s gonna walk us through the process of color-correction and discuss some of the many ways that a colorist can enhance the production value and visual story-telling on your next project.

Exactly what does a colorist do and how can you help them do it better for your project? Eric will break down the answer in living color on the next episode.

After that we’ll converse with Tiare White and Camille Landau the authors of the classic film book, What They Don’t Teach You In Film School: 161 Strategies for Making Your Movie No Matter What.

There is a huge catalogue of practical knowledge about the psychology, reality, and delicate daily minutia of filmmaking that you can only be picked up from painful experience or by having the foresight to study a book of wisdom like this (and listening to Double Down Film Show of course). These set-saavy Hollywood producers will share some of the best insights from their popular film book for your ears only.

The Double Down Film Show…bringing you “the real” every Wednesday night. The back door to film school is now open. Listen and Learn.

The Double Down Film Show...Filmmaking Reality Starts Here!

Listen Live Every Wednesday 9pm-10pm E.S.T.

Call-in Number: (646) 929-1956

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*PS - If you can't tune in live, you can still stream the show or save the podcast to your iPod later at the site above.