The problem with going to a meeting on a Friday at 6pm in Boston, is that it's Friday, 6pm, in Boston. Struggling through the traffic, finding a place to park, and then walking through the humid streets is enough to exhaust anyone; by the time I got to Apple’s Boylston Street store, I was sweating like Mark Zuckerberg at an interview.
On the way I had passed a sign that read ‘Cold Beer, Cheap Food,” yet I kept on going. I guess if you want to go to a software talk that bad, you must be single, and desperate for something to fill in the evening [if the cap fits...-Ed]
Daniel Berube, Leader of Bpsfcpug
But Apple was hosting Final Cut Friday, a meeting by the Boston Final Cut Pro User Group and Taz Goldstein of Hand Held Hollywood was there to talk about all the ways to use an iPhone/iPhone Touch or iPad in film making. It’s quite amazing how many apps there are already; too many to list here, but these are some of the highlights.
Taz started with a bit of history, talking about Hitchcock - the storyboarding app that's now called Storyboard Composer - which first got him excited about the possibilities of using the iPhone in filmmaking. From there he went through the various facets of film making, from pitching to editing, listing some of the applications available to help with each phase of the process.
The iPad - and Keynote- he said, make for an impressive pitching combination. Turn up with just them and you’ll impress people he says; but be quick, because he figures in another month everyone will be doing it and it will be old hat!
In combination with that, a useful tool and service is Dropbox which lets you store files in the cloud. He saves copies of all his documents there; that way if he meets someone unexpectedly and they are interested, he can immediately email them scripts or proposals.
Under the category of writing, the first app covered was Baby Names Plus, not just because you can find character names quickly, but it will tell you what names were popular at a particular period of time.
Taz mostly dismissed the tools available for writing scripts on the iPhone, saying that if you want to do that, you’re crazy. He did allow that maybe you could use it to make small edits. But for writing, the iPad makes more sense, and Scripts Pro is already available for the iPad. More importantly - and he mentioned this at the last SuperMeet - Final Draft, which is the application for scriptwriting, is coming to the iPad. Unfortunately there's still no word on when or how much.
[As we were in the Apple Store, and having free Wi-Fi and an iPad, I searched over to the iTunes store for Scripts Pro at this point, and found it was just $5.99. I bought it while he was talking and started playing with it. More on that at a later date.]
For reading scripts - in PDF formate - he recommends GoodReader, and iAnnotate PDF, the later is $9.99, but it lets you add annotations to PDF files. It's good for annotating on the iPad, but he thought it would probably drive you crazy trying to annotate PDFs with the iPhone version.
When he got to Casting and Production, he first asked if there were any actors present. I don't think anyone put up their hand. Acknowledging this, Taz said that when you ask that in LA, everybody puts up their hand! He recommends the database Bento for keeping a cast and crew database, as well as for keeping a Rodriguez list; a list of all the things you have access to. [Stu Maschwitz, author of the DV Rebel's Guide, came up with the Rodriguez list after Robert Rodriguez who compiled a list of all the things he had access to before writing the screenplay for his budget movie.]
For managing releases, mRelease offers a fairly quick and painless way of doing it in person; choose a release, enter the persons name, take their picture, and have them sign on the iPhone, and it creates a release and emails it to you! Pretty cool; though it doesn’t let you enter in your own text or releases. He thinks it’s suitable for small projects; but may not be useful for major productions. Even Vincent Laforet likes it!
For Pre-Production he mentioned Panascout, Storyboard Composer, ColorSnap (a tool for painting that shows you matching colors) and for budgeting he suggested finding a film budget template for Excel and loading it into Numbers.
An update of Storyboard Composer is coming that will output a video file - it's waiting approval at the Apple Store - and they are working on an AIR app that runs on the Mac and PCs, as well as working on a new iPad version.
Taz went on to cover some hardware, including the $129 OWLE Bubo, a frame for holding the iPhone while shooting video, the Steadicam Smoothie, which was announced at CES, and a suction cup/clip for attaching your iPhone to windscreens, walls or even moving objects.
Exhausted yet? Other things covered included; prompter software and hardware, follow-focus, audio recording software, the Artemis Director’s Viewfinder, control surfaces applications, animation, video editing and slate software.
A last couple of notable products; while there are dozens of Slate's (at least on the iPhone) he likes the Movie*Slate best. It lets you log your takes as you go, and then export the information to Final Cut in an XML file. They have a version for the iPad coming (Movie*SlateHD) but it's not out yet; and if I saw the numbers right, it's going to be about $30 when it comes.
Finally, if you're looking to capture better audio with your iPhone, Taz recommends the Blue Mikey [Amazon $51] as a great microphone with three gain settings. There’s a new version coming soon too; though at $99 list, maybe I’d get the Zoom H1…
Perhaps the most telling part of the presentation was not so much that you can do all these things with the iPhone - and even better with the iPad - but that the volume of choices is rivaling - and maybe even surpassing - the choices available for your laptop!