As I’ve been compiling notes for my (temporally shelved) book on iOS Filmmaking, I’ve noticed that filmmaking iOS apps aren’t exactly spreading like wildfire. I was a little surprised at first; filmmakers as a whole tend to be the cutting-edge, Apple-loyal types. I’ve found so many apps already that I consider essential to my workflow, apps that save me time and support better communication within my team. What’s gone wrong?

While AT&T’s dismal LA area cell service in the early days of the iPhone may be partly to blame, I have noticed a couple of things I feel are holding iOS back:

Users Need to Support Developers

In days gone by I fancied myself a game developer. My first declared major in college was software development, so I know the aches, pains, and utter frustration Developers suffer through. Add to that rapidly evolving technology and Apples propensity to change everything on a whim, and you’ve got some seriously overworked Developers.

We need to take the initiative.

If you use and like an app, get on the app store and leave a positive review, share it with your friends on Facebook, write a blog post about it, get the word out! If you think an app could be improved, shoot the developer a friendly email before you trash them in public. In my experience most Developers are kind and passionate about what they do, and cherish any feedback they can get.

Heck, why not write them an email just to say you appreciate what they’re doing? That kind of encouragement brings people to life. Have a bit of notoriety behind your name? Tell them how you’re using their app and offer some quotes they can use in their promotions.

We need to stop complaining about app prices.

Rovio can afford to sell Angry Birds for 99¢ because MILLIONS of people have bought it. Filmmaking apps are lucky to pull in a couple thousand sales. Are we expecting Developers, often one-man outfits in back rooms, working long hours into the night after 8 hours at their day job, to work for nothing? Is $5 really going to break you?

I never hear complaining about desktop app prices. The old Final Cut Pro? $1200. Adobe After Effects? $1000. Movie Magic Budgeting & Scheduling, Final Draft? Hundreds of dollars. Why is it OK when large corporations charge hundreds to thousands of dollars for their software, but we piss and moan when a solo Developer charges $10 for an iOS app?

Users, celebrate the technology you’re using and start loving Developers now before it’s too late.

Developers Need to Think Outside the Box

The amazing thing about iOS and other mobile platforms is the level of innovation they have ushered in. We now carry around a gadget with GPS, motion sensors, gyros, a compass, a microphone, a top of the line touch screen, and all manner of bells and whistles. Other Developers have been able to take these gadgets and produce innovative games and tools, things we never would have imagined five years ago.

At the moment it seems like most iOS filmmaking apps are just digital versions of existing things. We have shot-list apps, digital slates, and collaborative to-do lists, but all those exist outside iOS and have performed brilliantly for over 100 years. With all this technology at our fingertips, where are the innovative ideas; the new, better ways of doing things?

If there’s any point I want to make it’s that iOS filmmaking apps are not necessary; anything you can do in an app you can do the old fashioned way. It’s still a “hey, check out this new toy I got” kind of market. iOS will never catch fire in the industry until it becomes indispensable, and for that to happen we need to have innovation. Yes, experimenting with new ideas is risky (we’re going to see a few duds before someone knocks one out of the park), but if users support and love Developers, and Developers focus on new and exceptional apps, I honestly believe in time we’ll reach the Promised Land.

What would you like to see happen with iOS filmmaking apps?

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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