March 4, 2015

Shot Assistant Is the Camera Operating Companion We Never Knew We Needed

Shot Assistant Interface
A few filmmaking apps have made themselves indispensable in years past. Shot Assistant is bound to become the next.

Shot Assistant was designed by a cinematographer and Steadicam operator by the name of Ruben Sluijter, and at its very core, the app takes advantage of the advanced motion sensors embedded in our phones, and it uses that data in order to present camera operators with information about how their camera is positioned and how it is moving.

Our friend Matt Workman, who runs the excellent Cinematography Database website, recently test drove Shot Assistant and shared his thoughts on the app.

http://youtu.be/J7oYN8lK0Oc

Shot Assistant App Mounted on Steadicam
Here are the main features of Shot Assistant:

  • Highly accurate level with multiple readouts.
  • Heading (absolute and relative display) and tilt indicators.
  • Built-in seismograph with high and low sensitivity setting, useful for hunting down the source of vibrations in shot.
  • Ranging tool to allow the operator to easily get back to a certain angle.
  • Clear visual feedback for all actions.
  • Various layouts, including a full screen level
  • Absolute and relative horizon display, changes how the onscreen horizon rolls in relation to your device.
  • Calibration delay, gives 3 or 5 seconds to let everything settle before zeroing the app
  • Simple to operate without even looking at your iOS device, just hit the screen at the right point in rehearsals and you're set!
Shot Assistant App Mounted to Steadicam

Here's a bit from the app's description on how to use it:

To best use it; attach your iOS device to the camera or to whatever is carrying the camera. Once it's secured start the app and you're good to go. This way the information on the screen correlates with what the camera is doing. Optionally, if you mount your device at an angle, you can tap the screen with three fingers to zero the accelerometer to your current angle as a base to start from. The "button" functions are:

  • 1 finger stores the current heading, tilt, and roll as a range.
  • 2 fingers clears the stored range.
  • 3 fingers zeros the angles to whatever angle you are at, useful for mounting your device (Note: only works if "three finger zoom" is turned off in your Accessibility Settings!).
  • 4 fingers switches between high and low sensitivity for the seismograph, useful for finding vibrations in the camera or mount, or to find trouble spots on dolly tracks, or anything else that might vibrate. (Note: Will also reset the mounting angle, useful if three finger zoom is still turned on in your settings.)
  • 5 fingers brings you to the menu.

While Shot Assistant isn't going revolutionize the way you shoot or anything nearly that hyperbolic, it will provide you with incredibly accurate information about how your camera is positioned, and it gives you that information in real time and in an interface that is intuitive, easy to read, and full of helpful visual cues. How you choose to interpret and put that information to use is entirely up to you, but it will almost certainly make you more aware of how you naturally move the camera on a Steadicam or gimbal stabilizer. The app's real power, however, lies in its ability to store marks and then visually guide you back to those marks. Whether you're doing a simple pan that needs to be exact or a complex dolly jib (jolly) move, the Shot Assistant app can guide the camera operator to where he or she needs to be using a combination of simple visual cues.

Shot Assistant is currently only available for iOS, but Ruben is hard at work on an Android version as well. If you'd like to stay up to date with the latest Shot Assistant news, be sure to like their Facebook page, and if you're interested in purchasing the app ($10), you can find it through the app store    

Your Comment

10 Comments

I see how this could be useful. Not a bad price either.

March 5, 2015 at 12:05AM

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Dantly Wyatt
Musical Comedy & Content Creator.
606

It seems like a great app and I'll probably pick it up for the odd VFX composite job that asks for it. What I really need in an app is a data calc (codecs, bit depths, chroma subsampling, RAW compression ratios, resolutions, etc.) and a rangefinder (heck, I'd be okay with an attachment to my phone for this).

March 5, 2015 at 1:15AM

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Aidan Gray
Director of Photography Assistant Camera | Gaffer
1581

Neat little thing!

March 5, 2015 at 1:37AM

4
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Samu Amunét
Director
363

LOL. I've been taping an old HTC phone to the camera and using the spirit level for ages. Big bright display. You have to be careful when in a vehicle though - the smallest moves or changes of speed will give a false reading.

March 5, 2015 at 5:48AM

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Karel Bata
Director / DP / Stereographer
414

Where's the Android version? Not everyone is a sucker for apple products!

March 5, 2015 at 6:14AM, Edited March 5, 6:14AM

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Jerry Roe
Indie filmmaker
905

Fantastic idea- this guy deserves a lot of sales.

March 5, 2015 at 7:39AM

1
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Patrick Ortman
I tell stories. Sometimes for money. Sometimes, not.
803

Think I better test this out!

March 5, 2015 at 12:14PM

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Charlie Thompson
Film & TV production Student
74

Great looking app with a very reasonable price. I could see using this on future projects

March 5, 2015 at 3:25PM

8
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Philip Bradley
DP | Editor
129

As always eeeeeeeeeeverybody is an apple fanboy with iphone. Not.

March 5, 2015 at 6:33PM

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Panos Karachristos
Director - Filmmaker
276

on the topic of useful filmmaking apps, I tried "Green Screener" recently and found it really useful for lighting flat surfaces evenly..

March 6, 2015 at 8:25PM

4
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SpacemanSteve
Director of Photography
95

It would be sick if this could record your movement as After Effects keyframe data.

March 10, 2015 at 4:32PM

6
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Benji Lee Hansen
Director of Photography/Cinematographer
86