I forget my iPhone is a phone sometimes. I use it for so many things; listening to music, browsing the web, editing documents. I also use it quite a bit when I’m making a film. I’m not as gung-ho as some people are, but there are a handful of apps that I’ve found indispensable.

The app landscape is ever changing, so here’s my current top 10 go-to apps:

10. Final Draft Writer

$49.99
iPad
View in iTunes

My original review of this app was a little harsh, I’ll admit, and I still have a few bones to pick with Final Draft, but Writer is hands down the best screenplay writing app on the iPad. To separate itself from the pack of current screenplay writing apps, Final Draft wisely included a plethora of pro features like locked pages and revision mode. If $50 is a bit steep for you (and if they’re not in the middle of a promotional sale) then check out this list of screenplay writing app alternatives I put together.

9. FiRe 2

$5.99
iPhone
View in iTunes

FiRe is a fully featured field recorder for recording audio on set. (Get it? Fi-eld Re-corder?). I have misgivings about using an iDevice to record audio, as it requires jerry-rigging to plug in microphones, and you’re limited by the quality of the hardware. An iPhone is no replacement for a proper mixer and field recorder, but in a pinch, FiRe will do just fine.

8. Cut Notes

$7.99
iPad
View in iTunes

Synch Cut Notes with video playback, and you can log editing notes as you follow along. Timecode information is saved with your notes, and there are a number of quick preset messages to spare you fumbling to type “fix jump cut.” When you’re finished, you can export your notes as data that can be imported into a Final Cut Pro timeline as markers. Handy dandy!

7. Cinemek Storyboard Composer

$29.99
Universal iPhone & iPad
View in iTunes

Cinemek has made more than just a storyboarding app. You can simulate camera pans, tilts, and zooms, and export a Quicktime video. That’s right, you can straight up make animatics with this baby. It’s fully featured and you can easily get lost playing with all the bells and whistles.

However, if you just want to sketch storyboards, check out Penultimate and these handy storyboarding templates.

6. Index Card

$4.99
iPad
View in iTunes

When you’re working on a screenplay it’s helpful to write scenes on index cards and arrange them as needed. Index Card does just that, and very literally too. You’re presented with a virtual cork board and a set of blank index cards. You can color code, notate, tag and arrange as needed. It’s a lot of fun to work with.

5. Evernote

FREE
Universal iPhone & iPad
View in iTunes

While not a bespoke filmmaking app, Evernote is a great way to collect and organize information. It’s kind of like Twitter in that it’s really hard to explain why you should use it, but once you figure it out it’s indispensable. The iOS app synchs automatically with the web and desktop versions, so your information is never far away.

4. Clinometer

$0.99
Universal iPhone & iPad
View in iTunes

It’s a bubble level for your iPhone! Easy pease. This ranks #4 on my list because I use it all the time, primarily for visual effects on set. With it I can make sure props and rigs are straight, check if tracking markers are level, and notate the various angles the camera may be tilted at.

3. Sun Seeker

$4.99
Universal iPhone & iPad
View in iTunes

Sun Seeker is a cinematographer’s dream. Fire it up and it will plot the path of the sun across the sky. You can even turn on your iDevice’s camera and see the sun’s path mapped out on a virtual overlay that tracks with the camera as you move about.

When we scout locations, I use Sun Seeker to find out where the sun will be on the day of our shoot. I can see if a building will block the light at a certain hour, or figure out when the sun will crest over an inconveniently placed tree.

It’s beefier (and more expensive) cousin, Helios, will give you loads of very important looking scientific data about the sun at any point in time and space. Helios a bit complicated for my purposes, so I opt for the simpler and equally accurate Sun Seeker.

2. Dropbox

FREE
Universal iPhone & iPad
View in iTunes

If you’re not using Dropbox, you need to. Dropbox installs a magic folder on your computer, whose contents are automatically synched to the cloud. All of the files in that folder are then accessible from the fantastic iOS app as well as Dropbox’s secure website. I’ve lost track of the number of times Dropbox has saved my butt.

You can also share folders between collaborators. We use a folder system to organize our production documents, so on set, nothing is more than a few taps away.

Sign up for a free Dropbox account using our referral code and get 500MB of bonus storage: http://db.tt/j8594C3

1. Artemis Director’s Viewfinder

$29.99
iPhone
View in iTunes

I use this more than any other filmmaking app on my iPhone. Artemis Director’s Viewfinder, as the name implies, allows you to use your iPhone’s camera to simulate what your film camera will see. You can crop down to any aspect ratio and select a set of virtual lenses. Artemis will then digitally zoom in and out of what your camera sees to accurately simulate your lens selection. You can even snap photos that record all the pertinent data, including pan and tilt angles, and geographic coordinates.

Artemis has an extensive library of camera and lens presets covering everything from 1/3″ DV cameras to 65mm film. I’ve tested it successfully against the Canon 5D, the Panasonic HPX-500, and Sony F3.

Dan Baker

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Dan works out his social anxieties by producing and directing films. He's a proud New Mexican, and prefers green over red.

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