Don’t Leave Home Without These Lighting iApps

I’m not a “Mac guy.” In fact, as I write this, I’m typing on an HP Pavilion m7 laptop, but I do love my iPhone and iPad. Dearly. They, truly, are technological marvels that make every day work (and life) easier. I’ve done a number of iApps reviews over the years, but this will be a roundup of some of my top recommendations for TV lighting professionals. All of the following apps are for the iOS platform unless otherwise indicated.

Swatch, right, is a digital gel swatchbook on your iDevice. Select any of the available gel colors from Gam, Lee, Rosco or Apollo, in any of their available lines of gels. Looking for Rosco cinegel selection? The full swatchbook is listed, with simulated colors for each gel. Looking for Rosco 1/2 CTB? Swatch gives you 3204; shows the spectral distribution of that gel, along with the light transmission value and red, green and blue contents.

In addition, it shows you similar gel colors from competitors’ lines or even other product lines within a manufacturer. You can see similar colors side-by-side, with comparison spectral distribution or you can look at complementary gel colors.

For instance, the app shows that Roscosun 1/2 CTO (3408) is the complementary gel color to 3204; or you can see that L230 or GAM 430 are possible complementary colors. You can also apply the gel to an LED light fixture (daylight or tungsten), an HMI fixture or a tungsten fixture and the app will simulate the resultant color, including showing the spectral distribution of that specific fixture type.

Even if you don’t take advantage of these features, just having an app that includes all the swatch colors of all the manufacturers where you can easily see a similar color in another book is an advantage.

Do you typically use Rosco’s Canary Yellow (R312), but are in a place where you can only get Lee from a dealer? This app shows you that Lee’s Oklahoma Yellow (767) is a very close match to Rosco’s Canary. That function alone is powerful enough to merit the cost of the app.

SetLighting, lelft, is a database of lighting fixtures from Altman, Arri, Barger, B&M, Cinemills, DeSisti, ETC and many more. Get the specs on fixtures—sometimes this is just a scan of the manufacturer’s spec sheet; sometimes it’s broken into a more “interactive” format with base information, lamp choices, accessory choices and miscellaneous data.

The app also includes information on distribution, cable types, distribution boxes, generators and more. It’s a large reference book in your pocket. At times, some of the details are random and esoteric; some fixtures have little to no information, others have detail ad naseum. The balance, however, is a very useful app for best boys, gaffers and lighting directors as well as cinematographers.

The complement to SetLighting is TheGripApp, right, by the same company. Again, a reference book in your pocket for grip hardware, cranes, dollies, condors, truss, knots and more. The company is also working on an Android version, according to their Web site.

For location shooters, this is a must. Although I’m a big fan of Helios (Chemical Wedding’s sun-tracking software that is very advanced), it’s sometimes too complicated. SkyView, below, left, is incredibly simple and intuitive. Although the app is really designed for star and planet spotting, you can turn all of that off and make it just sun (and moon) tracking program.

When you’re on a location scout, set the date and time of your shoot and see exactly where the sun will be. Use the iPhone or iPad camera to sight the sun—where it will be at any given point in the day. A clearly visible path shows you the travel of the sun throughout the course of the day. If you sight to any given point along that path, it will tell you the exact moment the sun will be in that position.

Want to know when the sun will go behind a nearby building and give you open shade? SkyView will show you that will happen at 4:27 p.m. on the day of your shoot. No need for compass and clinometer— it’s all built-in and crazy easy to use. Best of all, it’s free.

These are just some of the iApps that I always have with me on both my iPhone and my iPad—all of which make my working day a lot easier.

Pocket LD, a reference and calculation software for entertainment lighting professionals, is, thus far the only iApp I’ve found that has photometric calculations that are pretty accurate.

Of course, real-world photometrics always differ from lab readings, but they can be a solid starting point. Pocket LD features a library of fixtures from ADB, Altman, Arri, Colortran, Dedolight, DeSisti, ETC, K5600, KinoFlo, Kobold, LTM, Mole- Richardson, Strand and a couple more.You pick your fixture; you pick the lamp you want in that fixture; and then you come to a calculator screen. This gives you the wattage, color temp, lamp life, beam angle, field angle and candella rating.

You enter in your throw distance in feet or meters and the calculator gives your beam angle size and footcandle measurement at that distance. You can select “favorite” fixtures so you don’t have to hunt through the library for frequently used illuminaries.

Jay Holben is the technical editor of Digital Video and a contributor to Government Video. He is also the author of the book “A Shot in the Dark: A Creative DIY Guide to Digital Video Lighting on (Almost) No Budget.”