Next week I'll be
modeling shooting some of [REDACTED]'s summer line on a Panasonic HPX2000. ((Unless the gig falls through, which is usually why I don't talk about work until it's in the can.)) [REDACTED] does an online virtual runway which, on the production side, consists of models walking in front of green screens; for the website, the green screens are later replaced with, you guessed it, runway. I started thinking about a runway configuration and how the models will be covering a fair amount of distance from back to front, requiring deep focus if they're to look sharp the whole way (minor pun alert!). We're not shooting on a 5D or anything so I'm not hugely concerned about an overly shallow depth of field, but why leave it up to chance? I turned to my trusty Android phone and searched the app market, where I discovered CamCalc, which has been downloaded less than 500 times (because it just came out) but looks to be an incredibly handy app for shooters.
CamCalc features calculators for depth of field, field of view, focal length equivalents, flash calculations, color temperature conversion, and miniatures. It includes data for most popular still and movie cameras (although not the exact 2/3" 16:9 chip on the HPX) and displays results graphically (see pic at right). There's a free ad-supported version and a $1.99 paid version, which just removes ads as far as I can tell. Using CamCalc, I can input the sensor size, focal length, and aperture of the camera and know exactly how much depth of field I'll have to keep the presumably leggy models in focus. With a camera set up at the front of the runway, then, we'll know exactly how much of the runway the models can cover before we have to rack focus (double entendre alert!). This is calculated based on circle of confusion -- "CoC" in the app screen -- which is just a more confusing way of saying "acceptable sharpness."
If you're an iPhone user and are interested in something similar, try the more expensive (but more feature-rich) pCAM.
Anyone else putting to use handy mobile applications for film production or photography? Please share in the comments!