Film Anatomy. Location Scouting Apps.

Since we wrote about scouting locations a few weeks ago, many of you have asked about the apps we used. Here are our favorite ones.

Flying cross-country to scout locations is obviously impossible with our micro budget. The great news is that nowadays we don’t need to do that, or even bring a lot of gear to scout a location.

Google Earth Pro is now completely free includes a considerable amount of features including computing distances and areas using measurement tools and adding map addresses with a Spreadsheet Importer. With Google Earth we can access any location and determine accurate sunrise and sunset times, interesting vantage points, and even find nearby restaurants and hotels for our production. I can’t think of any other tool that has saved me so much money over the years.


A recent acquisition to or arsenal is Sun Seeker (for iOS) or Sun Surveyor (for iOS and Android OS) helps determine the sun’s movement and allows one to pick the best spots and plan out shots.

Sun-Seeker_850 Sun-Surveyor_850

Smartphone apps like Artemis (for iOS and Android OS) or Pocket AC,  mimic a “director’s viewfinder” and offer additional features such as interactive Depth of Field calculators, media management, shot logging, and even virtual slates. I also use them to determine which lenses we might need to rent.


A recent addition to our arsenal is Adobe Capture (for iOS and Android OS), available for iOS and Android OS. With this app it is extremely easy to create color themes, custom brushes, vector graphics and unique Looks, simply by taking a snapshot with your cellphone.


Once we have a good idea of the location and gear needs, another great tool is Shot Designer  (for iOS and Android OS)which does a fantastic job blocking a scene as well helping determine where the camera will be placed. It saves time communicating the director’s vision with the DP’s technical interpretation of that vision to the supporting crew.


And once all those pieces are in place on last app that I can recommend is Martini QuickShot. Martini is essentially a storyboarding plug-in for the most popular NLEs. It comes with many pre-designed and pre-laid out shots that you can tweak and add to your timeline.


We’ll be pre-shooting our short film this coming weekend and we’ll use some mobile apps to quickly shoot and edit the project. Let me know if you are interested in knowing more, and we’ll share them here with you as well.


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The Best Smartphone Apps for Cinematographers – Test 001.

We will be testing a number of filmmaking applications for smartphones (both for Android OS and iOS). Acacia, a free app for the Android platform is our first victim.

According to the developers this app “aims to be a Swiss army knife of tools for filmmakers, currently providing an interactive Depth of Field (DOF) calculator, equipment and media management, shot logging, and a virtual slate (or clapper).  The latest version added a rudimentary digital Director’s Viewfinder as an experimental feature, and that is what got my attention. Sometime I carry my camera, but I always have my phone with me. With Acacia’s Director’s Viewfinder I can now scout any location and determine which lenses do I need for a shoot. But, is it accurate? Watch the video to find out.

Since this is our very fist field test, we would love to hear your feedback and comments. What can we improve? What else would you like us to review?