iTunes: Chemical Wedding’s Artemis Director’s Viewfinder
Update 2/22/2010: I’ve heard from the Chemical Wedding folks that they’ve added a bunch more lenses for the DSLR cameras, up to 800mm. They’re also adding a user configurable camera ability and 10 more DSLRs, so those of you with something other than a 5D or 7D should have an option. I would expect an update in the App Store soon.
The pros have nice toys. Motorized motion control dollies, light trucks, CGI departments, that sweet BMW suv with the crane on it. One particularly nice tool that lots of semi-pro folks don’t have the luxury of toting around is a director’s viewfinder. A directors viewfinder is essentially a zoom lens that lets you judge your ability to frame a shot at a specific lens length with your eye.
With the sudden resurgence in shooting with shallow dof primes, specifically on the 5D and 7D, gauging how close your camera needs to be to a shot with your two or three lens kit can be tricky. A company named Chemical Wedding released an app for the iPhone called Artemis, a director’s viewfinder application that utilizes the iPhone’s built-in camera. You plug into the app what kind of camera you’re shooting with (1/2″, 1/3″, 5D Mark II, 7D and many more) and your lenses (or your long and short length for a zoom lens), it then shows you what kind of field of view you’ll have with those specific lenses from where your iPhone is, live. You can select a specific lens and zoom in to fill the screen, as well as take snapshots to the iPhone’s photo roll with the mm, a title and the latitude/longitude of your current location.
There are some limitations, mainly that the iPhone’s camera is only about 27mm wide when compared with a Super 35mm lens. If you’re attempting to mimic a 18 or 14mm lens the image will scale and it will show you how much of the frame the image you see will fill up, a reasonable compromise. You also can’t edit the lenses, so if you have a 105mm lens for your 7D you won’t be able to add it, though really long lenses aren’t kind to the iPhone’s sensor so you wouldn’t really be able to see much zoomed in anyway. The controls for taking a photo can also be hard to hit if you’re taking a picture above your head or some other place where you can’t see the screen.
The app is priced for a professional audience at $29.95 but for those doing location scouting or shooting with a single camera or body, it’s could quickly become an indispensable tool. I used it to do some location scouting for a short I was planning and being able to accurately see where the camera needed to be was very revealing for space and shot planning purposes and saved me a lot of potential headaches planning for shots I wasn’t equipped to get.