Android & Filmmaking

I’m a huge supporter of open source solutions especially since I’m a filmmaker with no money. I flock to Apple when there is no proper open source alternative. In the case of the tablet world, however, Android is looking pretty good. With hardware that you can get under or around $200, I’ll take that over iPad any day of the week. So the page serves as an up to date list of the ways an Android based device can work well for you as a filmmaker. At $499, the iPad pretty much has you covered. But if  you want to wait a little bit, Android will deliver and save you some cash. Here’s what’s out there now:

RESEARCH

Movies-It’s important to understand the movement of the industry that you’re in even if you’re going to stay under the radar. There are great ideas and models out there to follow. Movies is a research tool to keep a pulse on today’s cinema.

High Paying Jobs- This app helps track down gigs for you.

Old Time Video-When I’m trying to come up with a shot, technique or sequence that breaks the mainstream mold I turn to classics that are either forgotten or overlooked. Then I interpret the piece and make it my own through re-invention. It’s a popular trend in the filmmaking today and Old Time Video helps make it easy. This is an app that connects you to a library of completely intact films that have entered the public domain. Silent films both feature and short can be found. Let your imagination run free!

Biggest Films-An app that connects you to the the top grossing worldwide films to date. The minimum is $200M.

Bollywood Chatter-A news delivery app concerning all the happenings on and off the set of the newest and biggest Bollywood movies.

IMDB Top 250-A list of IMDB’s top 250 movies.

IMDB-Android now has the IMDB app in all its glory.

PRE-PRODUCTION

DropBox-Of course this can really apply to any level of production but I’d say that information sharing starts here. DropBox is cloud computing solution for just about anything. It’s a great tool for telecommuting cast/crew. Sending scripts, notes and other media couldn’t be easier. Read more about dropbox here.

PRODUCTION

GTasks-It works well for over all productivity but there’s a hidden use…shot lists! I always compose a shot list in a linear order in a spreadsheet and then take those shots and rearrange them and group them in the order that they’ll be shot on a given day of shooting. It works quite well actually. I input the shots on my Google Tasks on my desktop and they automatically sync with GTasks. When I tap on a shot, it brings up a series of notes. I always have meta data with each shot: shot description, director’s note, dp’s note, blocking and takes.

Strawberry-A depth of field calculator. I haven’t tried this yet so I don’t know the range of formats, lenses and cameras that it supports. Be nice if it offered 35mm, 16mm and Super 8mm.

SL DigiSlate-Finally! A slate for the Android! Easily enter scene, shot, take info with running timecode!

Film Utility-Convert frames, feet and timecode. A great on set calculator/converter for on the set work.

Rosco Gels-A swatch of Rosco Lux gels and product number.

Vignette-So you’re a DP and you’re trying to come up with a shot list and or storyboard so you travel to the shoot’s location for inspiration. I don’t know about you but at times I tend to take photos and pace around the room to the get the sots I want. Vignette is a tool to enhance the viewing experience of those photos you take. Get an idea of what your shots will look like by taking photos then play with the color and contrast to get the cinematic look simulated on your Android device. It comes with 46 filters and a self timer!

Filmcalculator-This app has post features on it but it is primarily for a tool for production. It is best suited for loaders, DP’s, camera operators and the like. It helps with calculations for dof/distance, light/exposure, macro/sfx and others.

The Weather Channel-A very important tool for the outdoors. Not for the sake of rain delays and storms but to detect the pattern of the sun. I can think of a few shoots where it would have been nice to be on the same page as nature.

Depth of Field Calculator-Unfortunately it doesn’t mention what film formats it supports etc.

DofCalc-Again, I could find no info on supported formats.

Photo Tools-A DoF calculator bundled with a calculator that calculates exposure based on weather conditions.

Photo Tools-Strangely, another app unrelated to the previous app has the same name. This one comes with the same two tools as well as: circle of confusion, magnification, angle of view, field of view, flash guide number & aperture, camera pixels, aperture average, stops difference, ND filters, bellows.

Seed-A Rather unique app. I’d prefer that the officially released description do the explaining: “You might be a writer.A photographer. A filmmaker. Or all three. No matter where your experience lies, there’s a place for it on SEED. There’s nothing quite like reporting a breaking story, interviewing an interesting source, or capturing a photo at the right moment. Create an account today at http://www.seed.com.”

POST-PRODUCTION

The Massive Dev Chart-A great reference for developing b&w film.

Darkroom Timer-Exactly what it sounds like. A timer for the darkroom and it comes with customizable presets so you can quickly select a time set that you want. My concern is that I wonder if the light from the screen will effect the development?

Timecode Calculator-A great a way to find out how many frames you have to work with or whatever else you might need to know about timecode amounts.

APP SUGGESTIONS

Meta Media Review-This would essentially be an app where one could review dailies or scene scouting footage and could catalog the clips with a certain amount of meta data: clip name, scene#, dp etc. Something to sort and organize clips so one could review and share media. It’d be great if this could also work for photos.

Celtx App-Now the biggest issue here is that Celtx operates on the Firefox frame work. I don’t know Fennec qualifies but there have been many 3rd part developers that allows Celtx imports. The best on the iPhone OS is Scripts Pro.

Sun Compass-Essentially what this is, is an app that can tell you the position of the sun and a great way to avoid shadows during outdoor shooting. aShadow Finder is an Android app that attempts this but all user experiences I’ve read have been unfavorable. Helios and Sun Seeker are great apps on the iPhone OS that achieve this. They predict the sun’s movement based on weather conditions and provides a graphical presentation.

Film Budget-This is an iPhone OS finance app that is optimized for film budgets with pre made categories and values for locations, props, effects and other expenditures. It allows tracking of up to three projects. Would love to see this on the Android!

Digi-ViewFinder- A great way for the director to use their phone or built in camera on their tablet. It ought to come with presets for different framing situations: 4:3, 16:9, Super 16, Super Duper 8, TV Safe, Title Safe and others.

Color Balance-An app with a white balance card, grey card and bars and tone for setting the right color.

If there’s something missing from my list or if you want to suggest an app by all means leave a comment.

TABLET OPTIONS

To Reduce the clutter, I’ve made an equipment page. Here are brief descriptions but click on a device to get some in depth info.

Archos 5 Internet Tablet

Archos 7 Home Tablet-I was going to pre-order one of these but I got nervous and bailed out once I better understood the specs. It has a 600Mhz ARM 9 CPU. It’s not the clockspeed I’m worried about, it’s the CPU architecture. ARM 9 is a little dated and Android’s further updates do not officially support ARM 9. It comes shipped with Android 1.5 and Archos is coming out with a few new devices soon so I don’t think the Archos 7 Home Tablet will see a whole lot of firmware updates with Android OS upgrades in them. It’s got a good picture viewer and a great video player. It plays 720p at 2.5mbps (which is the same as the iPad) but it supports way more codecs and containers for video playback than most Android devices and definitely supports more than Apple’s mobile products. I could still see this as a good tablet for simple stuff like video playback, document viewing and the like. That being said, it will most likely not see much more development or support over the next year.

Dell Streak Series-A pretty zippy gadget. The first to roll out is the 5″ tablet. It’s SIM locked on AT&T and as far as I know, there will not be a wifi only version as predicted some time ago. That being I said, Dell has secured me as a non-customer for this product. I’m not interested in AT&T in anyway. I don’t like their network and I don’t like their politics. Dell is supposed to come out with larger screen versions of the Streak so if and when they come out…and if they are wifi only,  I may reconsider my stance.

HTC Android Tablet-There have only been rumors. If HTC makes a tablet, I have a feeling it will only be with Google’s  official stamp of approval. That means we will not  see this tablet soon. Google has mentioned more than once that Android 2.2 is not optimized for tablets. Additionally, Google is not tickled pink with all of the tablets that are coming out.  It’s more likely that we’ll see an HTC tablet in 2011 when Android 3.0 comes out.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Top 5: Android and iPad « Ernie Zahn
    Apr 06, 2010 @ 04:32:02

  2. Stephen L
    May 18, 2010 @ 19:54:04

    Thanks for mentioning my app SL DigiSlate! Just so you know I’m in the process of writing a directors finder called SL Viewfinder. It should hopefully be finished by the end of May.

    Reply

  3. erniezahn
    May 19, 2010 @ 03:19:55

    Fantastic! Would love to take a look at it. As a filmmaker without app creation skills, I really appreciate your hard work and contributions. You’ve got my support!

    Reply

    • Stephen L
      May 21, 2010 @ 11:39:09

      I’ll send you a copy to test out when its ready.

      Reply

  4. Theodor Nikoles
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 11:23:03

    Hi I found very usefully this article , I hope in nearly future more app for android users be offered. I want to let you inform for a very good app that is called HELLIOS , is useful , it tells in your current location what time is the early morning light + the last sunset light.

    Reply

  5. Derek
    Oct 28, 2010 @ 23:29:33

    Sweet Article!

    Reply

  6. Theodor Nikoles
    Nov 10, 2010 @ 06:53:29

    New app to calculate timelapse.
    I found it here : http://sites.google.com/site/droidanapps/home/timelapse

    Reply

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