ViewFinder Cine: Apps for Film and Video Production

If you work in film and video production today, chances are you have a smartphone and/or a tablet that accompanies you everywhere you work. Like many others I too have an iPhone and an iPad and I use them religiously in my work as a production leader and cinematographer.

Now I know there have been many posts about the “10 Best Apps for Cinematographers” and “Top 20 Apps for Video Production” and those are great for giving you an overview of whats out there. But I thought I’d take a different approach. I want to go through each of my apps I currently use and just explain a little bit about them and how I use them. My hope is this will give you a better understanding of what the app is and how you can use it to help you in your productions.

The first app I want to talk about is ViewFinder Cine. The developer of ViewFinder has released a couple of variations of this app catered to different uses so I want to make sure you understand I’m going to be speaking on the “Cine” version.

Here is part of the developer’s description for ViewFinder:

Use Viewfinder to quickly and easily compose your shot, choose your focal length, and a lot more before you ever reach for your equipment bag. It is the perfect companion for location scouting and for concept shoots. It makes so much easier to determine what equipment to bring to the actual shoot.

This app supports nearly every digital or film based camera on the market, including all major brands of motion picture and video cameras, 4/3 and 35mm still cameras, as well as lenses from most manufacturers; so you can be sure that you’ll find your equipment there. Generic formats like Super35 and 1.5x Crop DSLR allows to use your cameras even it’s not listed by manufacturer.

I use ViewFinder the most in location scouting and when I need to get a few variations of depth for a particular shot.

For location scouting, I usually know what cameras I’m going to use but if you don’t, no worries. You can have up to four cameras as presets that can can easily switch between. This will allow you to see how the focal length varies between cameras with different sensor sizes.

One feature I love about the app is the ability to take screen shots of the resulting image as well as the lens focal lengths shown as overlays. The saved photo also includes the camera data. This is helpful if you are using different cameras in the same production to know which camera to use for this particular shot.


Along with the app, during location scouting, this process also helps me know if the camera I want to use will even be effective for that shot or even the entire production.

When I’m on location and I know I need to capture a few different shots at different focal lengths of the same scene, ViewFinder helps me determine which lenses I can have the AC grab for the camera operator. This not only helps you be prepared for the next shot but also speeds up the process on set.


A couple of other features in ViewFinder that will help you in your pre-production are:

Aspect ratios: you can just use the native aspect ratio for the camera you have selected or choose from several industry standard ratios if you plan to output a ratio not native to the camera. Even if you haven’t determined the ratio you wish to use, having the ability to take screen shots and easily switch between ratios makes it easy to collect the data needed to make a decision later in the pre-production process.

Wide angle adapters: ViewFinder has nine presets for wide angle adapters you may use in your productions. This would be more useful for those using a fixed lens camera. However it is another great tool to use to determine how wide you will need to go to achieve the shot you desire.

There are many great uses for ViewFinder. How do you use ViewFinder or any other similar apps in your production?

Download ViewFinder from iTunes here.

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    • Obviously there are limitations. With most camera selections getting beyond a 24mm you will not be able to see with the app. Even the 5D MkII full frame sensor only goes to a 34mm on my iPhone 4. So if you’re going to need to see exactly what a 14mm on any given camera will give you, you will definitely need to have with you a DLSR with a set of lenses or a director’s viewfinder.

      For me, knowing what I get with the widest lens millimeter setting will give me, I can get a pretty good idea what I’m capable of using, especially during my location scouts.

      Hope that helps.

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