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The 10 best apps for camera operators

Smartphone apps have become an indispensable tool for cinematographers the world over. The likes of Artemis, Sun Seeker, pCam and Shot Designer have transformed location scouting and introduced unprecedented planning capabilities.

Here we look at ten tried and tested apps which are designed to go beyond simulating traditional tools, to considerably benefit location scouting, rehearsing, preparing for a shoot and working on set.


This app was developed by a working camera assistant “who understands that calculations must be done quickly, simply and on the run”. pCam helps with quick calculations of Field of View, Focal Length Matching, Exposure, Colour Correction (filters and mireds), Time Lapse, Light Coverage and Conversion, Scene Illumination and many others. It also provides essential technical charts, focus charts, cine film stocks, lens manufacturers, zone system and more information often required on set.

Available for iOS.

Sun Surveyor

Sun Surveyor’s main selling point is simplicity and providing the user with relevant sun position information “without any fiddling”. The app predicts the sun and moon position so you can tell at a glance, how much light is left in the day. It features a Live Augmented Reality View, an Interactive Map View, the ability to Lock down your shooting point and determine the difference in vertical angles between two locations.

Available for both iOS and Android.

Artemis Viewfinder

Artemis Viewfinder has, according to its developer, become “the most used director’s viewfinder in modern filmmaking”. The app’s user list boasts the industry’s finest names (Roger Deakins, Barry Ackroyd, Linus Sandgren, Darren Genet) and speaks volumes of its intelligent simplicity; you tell Artemis what camera and what lens you are using and the app quickly shows you what the frame will look like.

You can save and share images, record essential info and add your personal notes to any photo taken.

Available for both iOS and Android.


Sun Seeker

Sun Seeker is one of several sun position apps, telling you when the sun will set and how the sun’s position at certain times of the day affects the shadows cast by your subject. To many, including Hangman Studios’ James Tonkin, the app’s greatest advantage is its 3D augmented reality view: “The 3D augmented feature is an easy way to visually see exactly where the sun will be via the iPhone’s camera, I often take a screen shot straight from the camera for reference”.

Available for iOS and Android.

Helios Sun Position Calculator

Used by Academy Award-nominated Stuart Dryburgh, among others, Helios Sun Position Calculator tells you the accurate sunrise and sunset times. It displays the path of the sun at any specified time and at any given location, using HSPC’s database of over 30,000 locations worldwide.

The ability to access information for distant locations is a major HSPC advantage as it enables detailed planning of a shoot, including lighting for specific shots and accounting for finer details such as the length of a shadow any given subject will cast.

Available for iOS.

Cine Meter

While some cinematographers have fully embraced a light meter app, others consider the very idea gimmicky and unnecessary. Lightmeter apps such as Adam Wilt’s Cine Meter aim to extend beyond the traditional meter reading to offer additional features such as a shutter priority reflected light meter (shows you the stop to set as decimal readings), an RGB waveform monitor and a false colour picture mode (displays highlights that risk clipping and underexposed shadows)

Available for iOS.


This app helps you match the same field of view between two different camera systems and lenses. So you will get the closest equivalent angle of view between the original camera’s focal length and the current camera’s focal length. The app covers 16mm, 35mm and high-definition video formats, DSLRs as well as point and shoot cameras.

Available for iOS.

Shot Designer

This app combines camera diagrams, shots lists and storyboards for fast shot designs. Used by John Badham and Clint Reagan (The Hunger Games),

It creates full-blown diagrams in seconds. Most importantly, it lets you move characters and cameras around the diagram in real-time so you can previsualize and play out your scene.
Its shot list is cleverly tied into the diagram and “writes itself” while you make changes.    

Weather Bug (Elite)

This app is about accurate, real-time, ‘neighbourhood level’ weather forecasts. Besides avoiding nasty severe weather surprises, it provides you with the information to make better use of weather conditions when planning shoots. You can view the humidity level, wind speed and even driving conditions.

Available for both iOS and Android.

MovieSlate 8

MovieSlate 8 is one of many slating apps out there. Besides entering standard slate information such as roll, scene, take and timecode, the app has special features such timecode display that can be synced between multiple iOS devices via Bluetooth, to the clock or a song from your iTunes music library (handy when shooting a music video), or the optional pro feature where you can log data and notes simultaneously for up to 26 cameras.

Available for iOS.


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