Why every film maker should have an iPhone


I have often said that the primary tool of any film maker is the phone. And with smartphones, that’s even more the case. I am not a fan of Apple as a company or of their computers and OS, but I do think that the iPhone is extraordinary. It really does feel like Star Trek technology.

After last weeks shoot, I have been amazed at how much I and the crew used our iPhones. While there was plenty of obvious iPhone use (costume design using it to take continuity stills of characters for instance), I also saw three apps being used that I had never seen before. I thought I should share them as powerful tools you could use too.

Images 360 Panorama – Get 360 degree panoramic stills of locations (£1.19)
Never mind location stills, how about a 360 degree view of a locations, complete with geolocation and embedded direction data so you can see which way is north for example. This app takes a panoramic photo as you rotate on the spot, and can then upload it to the web for anyone to view. Here is a link to the farm location photo I took – http://www.360.io/PrfBHP. There are plenty of other panorama apps, but this one is quick and dirty and handles uploading very easily. Absolutely FANTASTIC for location management.

Sun-seeker Sun Seeker – See where the sun is now, and will be later (£2.99)
This app was used regularly by our gaffer to check the location of the sun. Again, using geolocation data and the internal compass and gyroscope, Sun Seeker can offer augmented reality, overlaying the location and path of the sun over the camera view (pic). This was very useful in figuring out when the sun was going to hit window or where it would be at specific times of the day. It was the job of our camera team to check this but by the end of the shoot, I had downloaded it myself and was checking the location of the sun so I could better plan the next few shots. Very very cool.

Artemis Artemis – A directors viewfinder (£17.99)
With Artemis, using the iPhone camera, you can approximate the image you would get using whole pile of different cameras and lenses in the included database. While far from perfect, it is useful and a quick and dirty way of lining up shots and choosing your prime lenses.

Do you have any apps of your own to add? Let me know and I will keep adding to this list of film maker specific field tested and useful iPhone apps.

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

e: mail@livingspirit.com




10 Responses to Why every film maker should have an iPhone

  1. darren@scruffybear.com May 18, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    have to recommend Panascout too for iPhone…. has been amazing on locations and being able to choose framing, Aspect AND lenses…. WOW…

  2. Dsc May 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    have these apps above and they are great… I have also found that PANASCOUT is perfect for location, aspect framing and lenses when out and about…

    Great read… enjoyed.


  3. Ryan May 18, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    I would recommend getting:

    dv Prompter (Free)
    For unsure interviewees

    Pocket Light Meter (Free)
    Which is a remarkably accurate app for what it is

    iSlate (1.79)
    Which not provides a T/C option, but logs every shot and take, which you can then add notes to and mail to your editor.

  4. Richard Purves May 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    If you’re a D.o.P then pCam is essential!

  5. Nicolai_a May 18, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    Yeah an iPhone is slowly but surely becoming indispensable. I use Sunseeker too, as well as Movie Slate and Light Meter, yes the names are pretty self-explanatory. Also pCAM is handy for calculating anything to do with focal lengths, shutter speeds, aperture, DOF and so on. Have also found PlaceTagger to be great for geotagging location stills if you need a better camera that the iPhone one.

  6. Joel Judah Lee Honeywell May 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    Photosynth is a far better app compared to 360 Panorama…
    It’s free too and developed by Microsoft. 😐

    Sunseeker… is amazing.

    Artemis? Costly.

  7. John May 18, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    I’ve been saying the same thing about photography and the iphone for months now – especially if you shoot a lot of timelapse.

    I don’t have Sunseeker, but I do use Sun Scout, which is a similar app, and definitely agree on the Panascout, very useful.

  8. Alex May May 19, 2011 at 1:48 am #

    This site is dedicated to iPhone apps for film makers.

    and for lighting folk:

    iPhone tripod mount:


  9. ron May 19, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    cinemek stroyboard is an amazing app, letting you take photos of the location and then add characters, tracking, pans, zooms or whatever, adjust the time of them and then play the whole section back in real time. I found it invaluable for talking HODs through my ideas.

  10. Taro Russell May 24, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    Celtx script and i-prompt are also very useful. Sunseeker panascout and doddle all have free “litet” versions that you can try out, the doddle one is the same as the full app just with ads

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