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6 Best Apps for Filmmakers: Cinematography

6 Best Apps for Filmmakers: Cinematography

Below we’ve gathered handful of apps that cinematographers can’t seem to get enough of. Though our first piece in this series had a few on there already, this round is specifically dedicated to our dear camera crews.

READ MORE: 7 Mobile Apps Every Filmmaker Should Have in Their Toolkit

FiLMiC Pro (for all iOS devices – $7.99)

In a nutshell, this app gives your iPhone better zoom, better control over frame rates and better audio recording options, like line level audio input through disabling the AGC (automatic gain control) and stereo microphone support. You can actually record footage at up to 50mbps. And like an actual DSLR, FiLMic Pro has many presets that are customizable, like adjustable frame rate and resolutions, framing options, image stabilization and audio and video encoding levels. In the iOS 8 version, you not only get control over exposure, focus and white balance, but additional manual control over exposure compensation, shutter speed, color temperature and ISO. You can even pull focus. Using the Extreme encoding option, FiLMiC Pro beat the $5,000 Sony FS100 and tied the $13,000 Canon C300 in blind audience testing at the 2012 Zacuto: Revenge of the Great Camera Shoot Out. Granted, it was the iOS6 version of FiLMiC Pro on an iPhone 4S that was featured in the Zacuto shootout, but the same 50mbps FiLMiC Extreme encoding that was used in that test is in the app today.

Switcher Studio (for iPhone, iPad – free to $500)

This app might be best for the young buck who is making a living wherever s/he can, trying to build up a reel while making rent in Los Angeles. Or if you’re shooting a super low-budget indie and need some easy footage for your social media campaign, Switcher Studio would work for that too. They’ve had a radio station use it to stream live video of their Saturday morning talk show, too. The point is, this app – which debuted only six months ago – is for anyone/everyone. It functions as a video “switching” tool that allows users to sync up to four iOS devices, switching between each unit’s built-in camera, and allowing users to record the final mixed video and stream a live video feed to services like Ustream and YouTube Live. A subscription of $20/month for unlimited streaming allows you to work across the devices on the same WiFi network (yes, you need WiFi to use it) within 1,000 feet of each other. One device acts as the master controller and that device operator serves as the video “producer.” For $500 a year you get access to all the Switcher Studio Pro features, like being able to pull stills from your photo library to add to the final product.

Shotlister (for iPhone, iPad – $13.99) 

While this app won’t eliminate the need for an assistant director, it will certainly reduce your paper waste on set. Shotlister, which does exactly as its title suggests, does a few other cool things too: the ability to update/change the shots in real time and share with everyone immediately, storyboards images corresponding with each shot, tells you if you’re ahead, behind or on schedule, exports the project and much more. At two-and-a-half years old, it’s certainly not the only shot list app on the market – as it boldly claims – but it’s one of the most popular and highest rated.

Sun Surveyor (for iPhone, iPad, Android – $6.99)

This is one of those things that will make us stupider (think: calculator), but it sure is handy. While solar panel installers are using it at the same time the gardener next door is too, it’s still a must-have for filmmakers. Sun Surveyor predicts the position of the sun and the moon (azimuth, altitude, time) for any given time and place. Planning shots with that perfect shadow has never been easier, and with a 3D compass, interactive map and street view, augmented reality and a detailed ephemeris, it all just got really fun as well. There are a host of other sun positioning apps available as well, including Sun Seeker, which is only one star below Sun Surveyor in overall ratings, and also costs $6.99.

Cine Meter II (for iPhone, iPad, Android – $19.99)

The original Cine Meter app was only five bucks, but it also wasn’t nearly as good as the second version is. I think it will take a lot to completely do away with light meters, and people like Wally Pfister, ASC will never entirely do away with them, but Cine Meter II is allegedly giving the 100-year-old contraption a run for its legacy. In its infancy, it already offered more than a traditional light meter – waveform monitor and false color display – and now it’s giving cinematographers lots more. Now you can set shutter angle, ND filter compensation, and arbitrary filter factors, use the front-facing camera for “light meter selfies,” the spot meter zooms in up to 15x, and there’s the option to add a Luxi photosphere for incident-light readings for $30. Best of all, Cine Meter II doesn’t require a WiFi connection, nor does it use any of your phone’s data.

Artemis (for iPhone, iPad, Android – $29.99)

Yet another option for replacing a brick-and-mortar version of on-set relics – (Anyone else getting nostalgic yet?) – is Artemis, a director’s viewfinder app. Having been among the first viewfinder apps out there back in 2009, Artemis is bound to be on most directors’ and cinematographers’ mobile devices. The app gives the user frame lines according to the lens size and aspect ratio you enter. Version 6 debuted in 2012, and included a redesigned UI, support for AirPlay and the ability to store snapshots a la metadata into a gallery.

READ MORE: 6 Essential Apps for Filmmakers to Hone Their Craft

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This seems a bit outdated now. Have you heard of MAVIS? It’s designed specifically for professional filmmaking.


the tableread App is also fantastic – it does it all. Listen to scripts as read by an entire cast, add a score, create and share notes, rehearse with a cast.


Aside from the glaring lack of pCam you’re also missing Shot Assistant (though to be fair, I made that one so I’m biased :-D )




I just ran across an app that’s ideal for pre-vis mock up of their movie before even shooting a reel of film. The app is called ShotPro. I’ve used the app to make animated re-enactments for a documentary I’m working on.

Scott Squires

As someone else notes you’re missing pCam. All encompassing Cinematographer app.

Dave Perkal, ASC

I still use a light meter. Theres no way I’m using my phone to light a shot.

Dean Head

How about the English to Chinese film/video translation App ‘Hollywood in China’?

Mako Koiwai

Missing pCAM … THE technical cinematography app


I’d think you missed an awesome app for flimmakers and editors called CTRL+Console.

It turns the iPad into a smart and sleek way to control Premiere Pro & FCP. It comes with an intuitive gesture system and is a gorgeous, easy-to-use interface that smooths out the editing workflow.

Check it out!


These are all great apps, and there are so many more out there that haven’t even made this list. We are fortunate these days to have all these tools at our fingertips, it has made life on set a lot less stressful, from focus pullers to “film loaders” a job that now consists of pushing a memory chip into a camera. We now have the ability to play each take back immediately in HD, there is no more second guessing, no need to wait for the film to be processed overnight, a expensive process. I remember hearing the horror stories of exposed film, scratches, or even roll outs in the middle of a expensive stunt that was only going to be done once. Even departments like hair and make-up use their phones to keep detailed records for continuity. But I’ve got to say, as a Prop Master myself, I found 3 iOS apps put out as tools for my Prop iPhones and iPads, the apps allow my on-set team to easily create phone call simulations, back and forth fake text messaging, fake emails, completely customized social media feeds, we can control all the phone elements, from time, carrier, battery percent, incoming calls on timers. I only discovered the apps a few months ago and I don’t know how I could go back, as is probably pretty evident. Before we had to have graphics made from scratch, which not only cost a lot to design but then they would not work very well in iPhones especially. The other two apps they have are lockable chroma-keying color palette, and a menuless video player, which is great for when we use an iPad built into a set piece, I have a video made, set it to loop, have a few fullscreen options, lock the screen and put it in place. This way I don’t have to worry that the screen is touched and the UI pops up and ruins the effect, theres been a few times when afterwards when I watch that film later I spot a screen in the background with a quicktime player menu or something like that showing, bugs the heck out of me! Check them out over at -DH


this are all cool apps for video recording but if you want to showcase your art and monetize video clips you should tray unstock app for licensing un-stock footage.


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