Smartphone Viewfinders

A director’s viewfinder is a handy thing to have. Though a Super 8 camera is usualy light enough to swing around whilst pre-visualising a shot, a viewfinder can come in handy if you’re working with primes.

Remarkably, a smartphone can make a good substitute for a traditional viewfinder. There are a number of apps available. Two of the most notable, Artemis Director’s Viewfinder and Cadrage Director’s Viewfinder, work on iOS and Android and both have Super 8 settings.

Cadrage viewfinder app on the iPhone

Cadrage Director's Viewfinder

With these apps, a smartphone becomes an incredible tool to have on a recce. Images can be taken and stored with useful meta-data such as focal length, time, compass directions and GPS; invaluable information to have when planning a shoot. And, of course, all this can be easily shared.

Artemis’s developer, Chemical Wedding, has also released a couple of other useful apps for the cinematographer. Helios Sun Calculator provides a handy way of calculating the position of the sun for any given time of day. Simply hold the phone up to the scene, and the app will plot the sun’s path.

The other app, Toland, is the product of a partnership between the developer and the ASC. It brings the ‘core data’ of the American Cinematographer Manual to the iPhone. An iPhone is a lot lighter in the pocket than a book, and the app’s tools – such as the depth of field calculator – are likely more convenient than printed tables.

Artemis sells for $29.99, whilst Cadrage can be had for $10.99.