Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video Looking at essential apps for site surveys, part of Effective Site Surveys for Video and Photo Projects.
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Chances are you have one of these or even both a smartphone or a tablet. And the rise of production-oriented apps is huge. There are apps for just about everything. You will find location scouting apps that will tag the photos with the date and time, the exact GPS data. There are other apps like virtual viewfinders that will let you see through your camera and simulate different focal length of lenses, as well as the aspect ratio of the camera you are shooting on. I can do virtual location scouting, seeing things like sunrise and sunset and first person views from the street level.
There are so many apps that come in handy when scouting locations, whether it's virtual or in person, that I find going out without my tablet or phone unthinkable. Now I want to take a look at an application that's really useful when you want to scout locations. It's going to capture lots of useful metadata that makes it easier to find those locations. That's called Panascout. Now it's made by Panavision, the same folks who have been making film lenses and tools for the film industry for years. So I have got the app fired up and I just have a small little still light in front of me just so we can see something through the camera.
The first thing I want to point out is that you could change the aspect ratio, so while the iPhone has its own aspect ratio, you can just tap the button up here in the upper right corner and switch to a aspect ratio to match film or video. So now I am doing an actual 16x9 aspect ratio, and you see it's recomposing the frame there to look better and show me what it would look like on a real video lens. So now that we have got the correct aspect ratio, I just press the camera button to take a picture and it will fire off, and when it does that it stores it to the roll and you will notice across the top a bunch of useful metadata.
Well, that metadata is giving you the geographic location, the sunrise, the sunset, the date, and time that you actually took the picture, and that's really pretty cool because it's going to help you out. We also have the ability here to change our zoom level, so if I tap the magnifying glass, up pops a slider and this allows me to go ahead and simulate different zoom levels, and as I go through there, you see that some lenses are turning green. What that's showing you is the fact that that would be simulating a 75-millimeter lens.
And so as we go through here, it's simulating the focal length, and you see there we have got 125 millimeters. So that's pretty cool. Not only can you scout the location, but you can use the built-in zoom feature of your iPhone to get an idea of what type of lenses you are going to need for coverage in order to get the composition you are planning on. Let's just jump on in and take a look at some pictures that are already recorded from a real shoot. So I am going to tab the album here and open that up and swipe on through. What you are seeing are some actual real- world production photos, so in this case it's got the information, it's telling you the date that it was shot, it is showing you the correct aspect ratio.
If I type the Info button there, you see it brings up the relevant geographic information. So you can toggle between Title information, if you want to name these scenes and the specific details of where you shot something. What's really cool, if you are out there scouting and you want to be able to get back to that location, just tap the Map button and it will actually give you the ability to look it up. So I will say Yes, go ahead and use my GPS, and it will take me on over and show me this on the Map itself.
And of course, with the built-in map feature of your smartphone, you have got the ability to just tap that little blue arrow there and say give me Directions To Here, and it will take you from your Current Location and give you turn-by-turn directions to get back there. So, really pretty cool things. Again, lets you simulate the correct lens like you are going to need for proper coverage. It gets essential metadata, like sunrise, sunset, date/time, and most importantly, geo-location aware, and then gives you the ability to organize those images and share them.
You can publish right from the phone to email, or sync them back to your primary media library. The great thing about Panascout, super involved for the photographer or the video pro, it's going to give you those tools you need to scout locations. Our next app is Artemis Viewfinder, which is a great pre-visualization tool. You can quickly simulate different lenses and plan out what sort of coverage you are going to need. This is a great tool if you are doing a location scout, you want to look ahead of time, or even if you are just the director on set or trying to get an idea of which lens you need to go and pull out your bag. Here is how it works.
With the Viewfinder app what's important is you want to choose what type of camera you want the iPhone to simulate. So if I touch up there in the upper left corner, it comes up with the camera formats and you will see lots of different choices for different sized sensors for standard video sizes, Still Cameras when shooting Digital or DSLR video for example. I will chose DSLR video, and then I am going to choose that I am working with a Canon 5D MkII, and select the aspect ratio. Now it gives you a choice of lenses.
You can load your own lenses up, or you can use these built-in presets that line up with standard lenses available for the camera. I am going to go with the nice Zeiss Compact Primes and there is a set there. And if I've got a particular lens listed that I have in my bag, I just uncheck it. So maybe I don't have the 21-millimeter and I don't have this 85-millimeter or the 100-millimeter. I will just click Save Lenses and now it updates and you will see the viewfinder shows you what's there. Now those bounding boxes are simulating the effects of the different lens, so if we zoom in, you will see that it cycles through the different lenses, showing you what's going to happen.
If you want to simulate this full screen, just touch the full screen button, and you will see that as you switch the lenses, the iPhone lens will zoom in and out to give you a simulation of what the shot would look like, so I can go from my 85-millimeter lens, down to my 50, and then continue to zoom out to 35, and then it'll even simulate, in this case, that the iPhone can't go as wide as the 28-millimeter lens, but it pads it to show you just how much wider the shot is going to get. So, you get an idea of what switching lenses would actually do.
And this is a lot easier if you're going to try to figure out where to put the cameras and what sort of angles and what sort of lenses to use, to just walk around with your phone than it is to keep carrying and swapping lenses on and off. It's not 100% accurate, but as a pre- visualization tool, it's excellent and a huge time saver. So, I welcome you to check that out. Our next step is Photosynth from Microsoft, and as a pro tool, it's great because it lets you actually go out and scale a location and then interactively share that with the client.
Sure, you could run around the locations, snap off photo after photo after photo, but when it comes time to planning things like lighting and rigging or where all you want to put the different angles from, I find it tremendously useful to have an immersive photo that shows me the whole location, and that's Photosynth. Now you are seeing a couple of examples here that I have shot with the app. That's really pretty cool how easy it is to go through and pan around and navigate and look at these. But when it comes time to put them together, it's not that hard. The app does all the work for you. Here is how it works.
When you launch the app, you are going to end up holding things vertically and when you are ready to begin, you just tap the screen to start, and it will take the first picture. You then rotate it the way it starts to pan, and as you get halfway around, it will automatically shoot the next images. You can start to tilt up, and it will do the same thing. If you go too fast, it's going to warn you and say, oh, go backwards, or it will give you a manual capture warning.
And you see that you could start to go through and actually create an interactive panorama. Now, if you need to, you can always tap the screen manually and force it to take a shot. It does a really nice job of putting those together. When you are ready, you just click Finish, and it will actually stitch those together into a panorama. Now you can go ahead while you are waiting and edit the properties and actually add a place and a name, it will geo-tag the image for you, and when it's done, you actually get an interactive panorama that you could pan around and look at.
And as you see there, I mean, we are just in a studio here, so it's not an incredibly fancy place, but you get the idea on how we could document a particular location, making this very immersive. Whole thing is easy to do, and when it's all done, just tap Share, and you have got the ability to push this out. When you are all done, super easy, just tap done and come out, and as you see here, it stores everything in the app for you and this works great. Here is one of my favorites that I have shot, this is the Jefferson Memorial here in DC, and as you see, I am able to take a look around that location and really get a sense for what it looks like.
Even in this case, I shot all the way up to the ceiling, so I could take a look at what's there and get a pretty cool immersive view. That's Phothosynth from Microsoft. What's cool about it is you can get great interactive photos of your locations. So if you are scouting a location and you just want to be able to show your client what it really looks like, this is a great tool. Totally easy to use, but it's really powerful and has great sharing options.
This course was created and produced by Rich Harrington. We are honored to host this content in our library.
- Why do a site survey?
- Planning camera positions
- Making lighting decisions
- Securing permissions
- Assembling a crew
- Deciding on your gear
- Understanding the technical considerations