It's safe to say that smartphones and tablets can do just about anything these days. For most of us, our phones have replaced calendars, alarm clocks, maps, newspapers, and a whole host of other things. The same can be said for many of the tools that filmmakers use on a day-in and day-out basis. There are slating apps, and shot-listing apps, and blocking/overhead apps, and apps that can teach you color correction. There have even been a few notable attempts at replacing light meters with an app, although most of those apps left something to be desired, especially compared to their real-world counterparts. However, one of the most promising light meter apps, Adam Wilt's Cine Meter, just got a major update that includes tons of new features that discerning cinematographers will love.
The original Cine Meter app was a smash hit among cinematographers largely due to the fact that it goes way beyond basic metering functionality. It also included two of the more helpful exposure tools that we utilize today, the waveform monitor and the false color display. Here's a rundown of what each of the tools in Cine Meter II are, and what they can accomplish:
Light Meter: shows you your stop as decimal readings (such as 3.2, good for cameras with EVF iris readouts) or full stops and fractions (like 4.0 1/3, good for cine lenses with marked iris rings). You can meter using shutter speeds, or shutter angles from 11.25º to 360º (especially useful when using Digital Bolex and Blackmagic cameras). You can add neutral density filter corrections and arbitrary exposure compensations.
Waveform Monitor: shows you how light levels vary within and across a scene. They show you how even the lighting is on a green screen or white cove, and let you see hotspots and imbalances at a glance. The waveform’s RGB mode shows you color imbalances in the image and gives you a handy way to check for color purity on a green screen or blue screen.
False Color Display: lets you define allowable contrast ranges, and see instantly which shadows are underexposed and what highlights risk clipping.
These three primary functions are still the foundation of the updated app. So what all is new in Cine Meter II? Here's a quick breakdown.
- Cinematographer-friendly controls let you set shutter angle, ND filter compensation, and arbitrary filter factors.
- Use the front-facing camera for "lightmeter selfies" – use yourself as the model when lighting a set (not available on iPhone 3GS).
- The zoomable spotmeter lets you measure light precisely from a distance (iOS 7 or later only, on iPhone 5, iPod touch 5G, iPad Air, iPad mini 2G, or later devices).
- Add a Luxi™ photosphere for incident-light readings ($30 from ESDevices for iPhone 4/4S or 5/5S; support for other devices coming soon).
A few of these features are especially groundbreaking for cinematographers who are considering a metering app instead of laying down a load of cash for a professional light meter. The ability to add a $30 Luxi metering sphere essentially turns your iPhone into the rough equivalent of a combination spot/incident meter, which are incredibly expensive ($800) if you purchase the real-world equivalent from Sekonic. Additionally, unlike most metering apps, Cine Meter II is designed specifically for cinematographers, with cinematography-specific controls and options -- like shutter angles, T-Stops, filter factors, and frame rates.
Unlike its younger brother, which cost $5, Cine Meter II comes in at $20. It's definitely a steep price hike, but considering that Cine Meter II might be the first metering app that is truly capable of replacing a traditional light meter -- and even surpassing it in terms of the other exposure functionality -- $20 is pretty damn reasonable. For those of you who are interested in comparing the original Cine Meter to its second version, check out the chart below (click to enlarge):
Ultimately, Cine Meter II looks to be an excellent update to an already-excellent app. If you're an experienced cinematographer looking for the convenience of waveform and false-color displays for setting exposure, or if you're a beginning cinematographer who's hesitant to shell out the cash for a professional light meter, then the Cine Meter II app paired with a Luxi photosphere might just be an incredibly worthwhile investment.
[via Film & Digital Times]