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Using the iPad as a slate


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#1 Fred Neilsen

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 04:42 AM

After using the light meter app, I'm fascinated by some of the new apps available, In particular the "movie*slate" iPad app. it sort of looks like a timecode slate, combined with a shot by shot notes system (with some creativity it could be turned into a camera report) and some charts (bars, back focus, colour separations/grayscale - though they'd be useless off a screen)

Has anyone actually used this app yet in a practical application? My only concern is that it seems a bit slower use and that, judging by the amount of punishment that my slate gets, a bit too fragile for the job. Other than that, it seems like an interesting idea, especially in low light situations.
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 08:46 AM

I'd certainly worry about durability in the field... and what happens, when, let's say, it starts pouring outside? In truth, it seems a bit excessive and while cheaper than a TC slate, it's far more expensive than a simple dumb slate and probably not as accurate as the TC variety.. Of course, if you already have an iPad, there isn't much stopping you from using it, providing the rest of the production is ok with that.
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#3 David Bowsky

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 02:10 PM

I agree on the durability and weather thing. Our 2AD had one on my last show - seemed like it had potential for folks handling a lot of paperwork. Seemed a bit unwieldy to actually have on set, and way too fragile. There are a lot of interesting applications out for smart devices - there just needs to be more devices that are hardened/ruggedized IMHO.
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#4 Trevor Swaim

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 07:25 PM

I agree on the durability and weather thing. Our 2AD had one on my last show - seemed like it had potential for folks handling a lot of paperwork. Seemed a bit unwieldy to actually have on set, and way too fragile. There are a lot of interesting applications out for smart devices - there just needs to be more devices that are hardened/ruggedized IMHO.



It would be great if you could sync an iPad with a video camera and run a camera report app. Then all of the camera report info could be stored as metadata with the correct video file.
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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 07:35 PM

Would be best if that could be done via wifi and or bluetooth..perhaps setting it up to work on OS X as well as Ipod touch/Iphone... wonder if it's possible...
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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 07:45 PM

It would be great if you could sync an iPad with a video camera and run a camera report app. Then all of the camera report info could be stored as metadata with the correct video file




That's pretty much what we did, although like most stuff you end up not making notes on most stuff because there's really no need.
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#7 Oliver Christoph Kochs

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 08:20 PM

Could i use an iPad for synching a playback so that this App diplays the TC from a soundfile it plays? That would be cool. Otherwise i have to whip-pan from a recorder / players display all the time. Shooting a music video soon...
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#8 David Bowsky

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 09:03 PM

I'm sure it's possible. At the risk of using a dirty word, it wouldn't be that difficult to have a mini-offline/camera log app that read CF or drives from a RED and could collate the info for you into a handy dandy db that could pump out reports. Of course bluetooth or 802.11 only means needing an intermediary device, most likely the DIT station. At that point does it just replicate existing data, or are there gains?

Will be interesting to see where this leads in terms of devices too. I'd love to see a high resolution touch screen that can be used to run camera menus and target things like in-camera spot meters and the like. One which I can then pull off and use as a notebook (with a pen/stylus) for writing and sketching. All in due time. :)
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#9 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 09:19 PM

As I mentioned elsewhere, a better/additional application would be for the Script Supervisor, the Second AC, and the Sound Mixer to all have iPads. The Script Supervisor would input the proper scene information and it would automatically send it to the other two iPads on set. No more wondering what the scene number is! The Second AC's iPad-like device would have to be built to be rugged and with wooden sticks on top for normal slating while the display contained the information that was being shared b/n the three departments.

The Loader could then sync his device with the on-set iPad-like slate and generate camera reports to attach to mags or harddrives. At the end of the night, the software would have generated a final camera report which could be printed out on the truck and distributed as normal or emailed to the ADs.

The possibilities are there. The question is, is it worth the trouble?
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#10 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 04:15 PM

As I mentioned elsewhere, a better/additional application would be for the Script Supervisor, the Second AC, and the Sound Mixer to all have iPads. The Script Supervisor would input the proper scene information and it would automatically send it to the other two iPads on set. No more wondering what the scene number is! The Second AC's iPad-like device would have to be built to be rugged and with wooden sticks on top for normal slating while the display contained the information that was being shared b/n the three departments.

The Loader could then sync his device with the on-set iPad-like slate and generate camera reports to attach to mags or harddrives. At the end of the night, the software would have generated a final camera report which could be printed out on the truck and distributed as normal or emailed to the ADs.

The possibilities are there. The question is, is it worth the trouble?



Ofcourse it's worth the trouble! I've talked with other scripties, Ac's, Dp's...etc about the same kind of idea. Everyone loves it, especially with the EPIC *supposedly* being able to stream video to the ipad.

If the program was available for ipod/iphone/ipad, this would be greatly helpful as well. (android support would rock as well)
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#11 Michael Kubaszak

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 05:31 PM

As I mentioned elsewhere, a better/additional application would be for the Script Supervisor, the Second AC, and the Sound Mixer to all have iPads. The Script Supervisor would input the proper scene information and it would automatically send it to the other two iPads on set. No more wondering what the scene number is! The Second AC's iPad-like device would have to be built to be rugged and with wooden sticks on top for normal slating while the display contained the information that was being shared b/n the three departments.

The Loader could then sync his device with the on-set iPad-like slate and generate camera reports to attach to mags or harddrives. At the end of the night, the software would have generated a final camera report which could be printed out on the truck and distributed as normal or emailed to the ADs.

The possibilities are there. The question is, is it worth the trouble?




Let me pick my jaw up off the floor. Wow that sounds amazing.
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#12 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 03:18 AM

Let me pick my jaw up off the floor. Wow that sounds amazing.


Unfortunately I'm forced to refer everyone here to the titanic canyon that exists between "sounds amazing" and "is a workable business opportunity".

As I say I built software to do more or less exactly this, as part of the control system for a digital recorder.

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#13 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 08:16 AM

Unfortunately I'm forced to refer everyone here to the titanic canyon that exists between "sounds amazing" and "is a workable business opportunity".



I agree. I had a long talk with a friend who is in post-production sound, asking him how such a system would ultimately impact their workflow because afterall, all that paperwork (most of it anyway), is FOR the guys in post. To really make such an integrated electronic system fully functional would mean that the Script Supervisor would have to be able to make ALL of her notes electronically and the camera would have to also continuously sync information with the three "iPads" on set.

Certainly within the realm of possibility... but the overriding question is, is it ultimately going to save time and money or is it just an unnecessary elaborate Rube-Goldbergian system?

Our conclusion (at the end of our discussion) was that while this system likely wouldn't work and isn't practical for features, episodics COULD possibly benefit primarily because of the quick schedule and turn-around of the material. It would take a "vendor" of the entire integrated system to sell the idea to a Producer based on how much more efficiently their workflow would become and how much money they would save because of it. That obviously, would take a fair amount of technical and logistics work to get the entire system working to that point and it could run into resistance by "traditionalists" who like to whine about any changes in how they've "always done it."

So, it COULD be done AND used... but should it and would it?
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#14 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 09:51 AM

The way to do this is with integration into a digital recorder. That way, you aren't running additional devices over what's being used anyway. There is no extra burden of equipment or support for that equipment, nor are any additional data management pathways or administrative tasks created because the information that's being created can be automatically stored alongside picture and sound information. The camera department actually ends up with less to do - there is no need to worry about what's on the slate, because the interested parties can control it directly. Anyone with the password - the sound department springs to mind - can then get the information using any wifi device.


There are a few issues with doing it. The most obvious is wifi reliability, and it's for this reason that something other than an ipad must be used, or at least must be available, because an ipad does not have any wired fall-back if the wireless Ethernet becomes unusable. In my experience this does not happen very often, but you obviously need a Plan B if it does. Ipads and iphones (and ipod touches) are just one string of the bow, because, at least the way I've done it, what you're actually creating is a web app, that is, a website, which will work on anything that has a wifi modem and a browser and means you have nothing to install on your device, you just navigate to a URL. A tablet PC could be used just as well. There are battery life concerns with all of this; your iphone will sit there on standby for days, but it will not sit there being a slate for hour after hour with its wifi modem active and its display switched on, and you will need more than one to keep up continuous service.

The second thing that springs to mind about this is the manner in which you offload and present this data to the people who use it. Many digital file formats, such as DPX or Broadcast Wave, have a comprehensive list of header fields in which a wide range of information can be represented. The problem is that support for all but the most basic fields (such as timecode) tends to be extremely patchy in application software, with various people implementing bits and pieces of the spec which may not overlap and which may even collide. I'm not convinced this is a showstopper, though; while we're waiting for the industry to get its creative head around a standardised digital workflow, it is trivial to have the device produce a PDF file or XML document (for easy human or machine readability, respectively) in a format approximating what people already use. This information could be downloadable from the recorder onto a supported device.


There is almost no limit to what you could do with this; the implementation I had would let you view proxies of past takes with any of the information you wanted burned into the picture. If you're willing to tolerate your recorder being connected to the global internet, you can make all of this stuff available on a central production web server for any interested party to view.


The only thing that's really quite hard to do is a timecode display; it is (I believe, having tried associated things) possible to write an application that would allow a tablet PC with audio inputs to behave as an LTC-jammed timecode slate, but this isn't something an iThing could do very easily.


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#15 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 10:52 AM

There is almost no limit to what you could do with this; the implementation I had would let you view proxies of past takes with any of the information you wanted burned into the picture. If you're willing to tolerate your recorder being connected to the global internet, you can make all of this stuff available on a central production web server for any interested party to view.


I forgot to mention this issue specifically, that being security. This issue came up very recently with a VERY big studio picture that is in post-production right now. For expediencies sake (to keep up with the Director's demands for quick changes), the movie files were put on a secured server within a limited area of the studio. It was only accessible by those in that area and only with the username/password combo. But even with that, the Director was VERY disturbed that this was on a "server" at all. To him, it was/is an avenue to allow the movie to be "stolen" and then of course that would lead to piracy concerns, et al.

Were his concerns justified in that case? Maybe. Probably not, but one can certainly understand the concern.

So, given that, having so much data (including the script) in digital form floating between devices on set and off, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that something WILL "leak" out before the Studio wishes it to. Keeping everything "analog" is not an unreasonable request for this very reason no matter how much more efficient the digital workflow can be.

"Leaks" are already a problem, as I see in my own position shooting behind-the-scenes on features and episodics. No matter how many "warnings" are put out by the Producers and the Publicist, I CONSTANTLY see crew members whipping out their iPhones and other cameras to shoot their own "behind the scenes" video and stills even when I'm standing right next to them. There are times when I, being the "official studio camera" am not allowed to shoot (because of actors or directors complaining so I am forced off set), but other crew members (and nearby Paparazzi) DO continue shooting! Sometimes, everyone else gets better shots than I do... and I'm PAID to be there to get that stuff! Anyway, the point is that with the way cast and crew so often ignore such basic edicts like "don't take personal pictures or videos on set," what's to keep the information being stored on iPads (or the like) and on servers from being "leaked"?

Again, it's a case of "we CAN do it, but should we?"

I don't know that answer to that one.
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#16 K Borowski

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 04:18 PM

That obviously, would take a fair amount of technical and logistics work to get the entire system working to that point and it could run into resistance by "traditionalists" who like to whine about any changes in how they've "always done it."


Brian: Aren't *you* a traditionalist?
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#17 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 06:38 PM

Brian: Aren't *you* a traditionalist?



I don't think so. I'm a pragmatist. :)

I think you're trying to intimate toward my "political/economic" philosophy with your not so subtle snarky question. :) Right?

When I say "traditionalist" in the discussion above, I'm referring to the technology, as I assume most people realize and understand. I'm guessing you do too, but wanted to take the opportunity to make a snarky comment to perhaps defend the failed political/economic ideology of the Conservative/Regressives in the United States. This thread isn't about that in any way. :) I was purely and entirely referring to technological "traditionalists," who typically, per this type of topic, prefer to do things "the old fashioned way," which in this context, would mean a regular slate, marker, paper, and pens as opposed to electronics. :)
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