Here's a list of small but useful filmmaking tools and apps that came out this year.
Everyone loves a sweet gadget to play around with, but for filmmakers, these things can actually become some of the most vital tools in our kits. In 2016, quite a few of them came to market, so we made a list of the top 10 gadgets and apps of the year (in no particular order) that can help you do what you do better.
Put this in the "weird but useful" category. GekkoGum is a malleable ball of adhesive that allows users to stick smartphones, action cams, and other devices and items weighing 7oz or less pretty much anywhere. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, GekkoGum is now in the manufacturing process. It's expected to start shipping next month for about $18.
2. Golden Hour app
Shooting during golden hour can result in some pretty beautiful images, but it can also be tricky trying to plan a shoot within such a small window of time, which doesn't leave much of a margin for error. That's where Golden Hour comes in. This app helps you find the best time, place, and weather conditions for shooting during this time of day by calculating the exact time and best sun position for golden hour anywhere in the world. You can download Golden Hour on iTunes for $4.
3. Golden Section Finder
Areaware's Golden Section Finder is perfect for those who love the art of composition. This wallet-size tool helps you find the golden ratio wherever you are. It's effective, portable, and super cheap. You can buy one in yellow or blue for just $10.
4. Boardfish storyboarding app
Boardfish is a page layout storyboarding app that gives production teams the chance to collaborate on boards together. After importing your storyboards in to the app, you can add panel descriptions, rearrange, delete, or hide panels to your liking. It's currently only available for Mac OS X. You can pick it up for $99. Check out the video above for a full guided tour of the program.
5. Flash Bag
For those that like to wear their film gear, the Betabrand Flash Bag is a messenger bag that has a reflector sewn right into the inside of the flap. Not only is this bag designed to reflect light, but you can also organize your camera gear with its removable velcro dividers. While the Flash Bag won't replace your actual reflectors and bounces, it might save you one day when you're in a pinch. It's currently going for $84.
Whether you're constantly misplacing your gear or just need some help organizing it for your projects, GearEye is here to help. This gear management system locates and helps account for all of your camera equipment using RFID tags, a mobile app, and their extended-range GearEye dongle remote or smartphone case (which doubles as a phone charger). You can use the app to create gear lists (it will let you know if you're missing any gear that has a RFID tag) or to locate anything you've left behind. A standard GearEye pack is going for $129 on Kickstarter right now.
7. Aputure Amaran M9
This is the swiss army knife of tiny LED lights. Aputure's Amaran M9 is the size of a credit card and less than half an inch thick. But don't let its size fool you; it has plenty of power under that tiny hood. Features include: 5500K ± 200K, 9-step brightness adjustment, 1.75-hour runtime at max brightness, diffusion/CTO/CTB filters included, and 1/4"-20 and cold shoe adapter. You can buy an Amaran M9 for $45 at B&H.
8. GoPro HERO5
Though GoPro hit a major rough patch this year, they're still the leader when it comes to action cams. Their latest iteration of their HERO series, the HERO5, builds upon its predecessor with 4K video, waterproof at up to 33' without a housing, voice control, advanced video stabilization, larger 2" display, and stereo audio. The HERO5 costs $400.
9. DJI Osmo Mobile
Filmmakers have a serious love affair with camera stabilizers. And since smartphone camera quality is only getting better, DJI saw it fit to design a handheld 3-axis gimbal stabilizer for those who want to boost the production value of their smartphone videos. You can get your own Osmo Mobile for $300.
10. Kodak Super 8 Camera
Okay, this might be a little bit bigger than a "gadget", but it's cool enough to mention. Last January, murmurings about Kodak potentially developing a Super 8 film camera turned out to be true. In an attempt to merge analog and digital, Kodak built a 8mm camera for a new generation of filmmakers to work and experiment with, complete with a 4" digital viewfinder, extensive connectivity (SD, HDMI, etc.), and, of course, it shoots 8mm film. The cool thing about this venture is that Kodak is trying to make shooting with film easier by selling film cartridges and then processing, scanning, and delivering all of your footage for you. Pricing is still unavailable, but it's rumored that it'll cost somewhere between $400 to $750.
What are some of your favorite new filmmaking gadgets? Let us know in the comments below.