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Tech Scouting

In addition to location scouts, your career will be peppered with technical scouts, or tech scouts as they’re more commonly known. Unlike location scouts, tech scouts happen after you’ve secured your locations—typically a few days before you’re scheduled to shoot. These are group events, attended by you and many of your department heads.

As soon as you arrive, the questions begin. How much of the location will require set dressing? Can the natural light be incorporated, or must it be contained? Will any departments require equipment not already in their trucks? Where will you put crew parking, catering, and extras holding (the area where extras wait while not in a shot)?

Although the specifics of everyone’s agendas may differ, all of the participants share the same goals: to plan effective shots, to maximize a location’s existing resources, to identify and solve all potential problems, and to determine exactly what new equipment will be required to pull everything off. It’s that last goal that’s just now getting a small boost from iOS developers. Current App Store offerings are slim to say the least, but three apps are worth singling out.

TechScout Touch, Lighting Edition

If you’re a director of photography, gaffer, or best boy, you should stop reading this book, grab your iPhone, and download TechScout Touch, Lighting Edition. Really, go get it! Why are you still reading?

As long as you’re still here, I suppose I should take a moment and tell you about this nifty little utility. Aside from having one of the longest names in the App Store, TechScout Touch, Lighting Edition can help you quickly compile a complete lighting order (a list of all necessary equipment) right from your iPhone!

After launching the app, tap Create New Job and then enter all the vital information. You can include job title, order number, and production company as well as the pickup, shoot, and drop-off dates.

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Once your new job has been created, tap Add Gear to start building the order. Equipment is grouped into categories and subcategories, making it easy to drill down to your desired item (FIGURE 4.10). For instance, if you were prepping a glamour shoot and wanted to add an LED Ringlight to your order, you’d first tap the LED Sources category and then the Ringlight subcategory. From there, you’d browse the list of options and pick the one you want. For this example, I’ll select the Gekko Kisslite Ringlight Kit. Tapping the techscout_plus.jpg next to this item would add one to the order (FIGURE 4.11). If you change your mind, you can always tap the techscout_minus.jpg to have it removed. Using this same process, add all the necessary gear until your order is complete.

Figure 4.10

Figure 4.10. With more than 3000 items, it’s good TechScout Touch, Lighting Edition keeps everything well organized.

Figure 4.11

Figure 4.11. To add an item to your order, tap its green plus symbol. To remove it, tap the red minus symbol to the right.

When you’re satisfied, tap Send Order to e-mail a cleanly formatted, well-organized equipment list to your rental facility, producer, or anyone else (like your mom—you don’t e-mail her nearly enough).

The app was developed by LiteGear, a Burbank, California-based company that designs and builds specialty lighting equipment for the film industry. After using their app for a few minutes, I think you’ll agree that these guys really know their stuff. The app includes more than 3000 individual pieces of lighting equipment. That said, you might require something that has not yet been added to the app’s database. In those rare cases, you can easily add and edit your own items.

The most exciting thing about this app is the last two words in its title. Because the developer chose to call this the Lighting Edition, I’m quite hopeful that they have a few more editions up their sleeve. For instance, I believe a Grip Edition, a Special FX Edition, and even a Craft Service Edition would fit very nicely on my iPhone’s home screen. A man can dream.

Camera Order

If you just read the description of TechScout Touch, Lighting Edition and said, “I sure wish something like that existed for the camera department!” you should stop talking to a book. It makes you look like a crazy person. Also, you should know about Camera Order, an app made specifically for the camera department.

I’m not going to go into too much detail because this app operates very similarly to TechScout Touch, Lighting Edition, or T.S.T.L.E. (that’s what the cool kids call it).

In Camera Order, you begin by creating a new job and then navigating through the various categories of camera gear to find the equipment you’d like to add to your rental list. Equipment is broken up into six main categories: Cameras, Lenses, Filters, Accessories, Support, and Film and Media (FIGURE 4.12).

Figure 4.12

Figure 4.12. Camera Order keeps everything organized within categories and nested subcategories.

When you locate an item you’d like to add, just tap its tab.jpg. After you’ve completed your list, you can e-mail a clean, well-organized order straight from the app to your rental house. You can save and duplicate your jobs for use down the line.

More than just a list of equipment, Camera Order serves as a basic reference guide, providing useful data for lenses (maximum aperture, close focus, and front diameter size) and cameras (weight, lens mount, frames per second, digital camera’s native ASA) (FIGURE 4.13).

Figure 4.13

Figure 4.13. Launch Camera Order the next time you need to know the details about a specific camera or lens.

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Unlike T.S.T.L.E., Camera Order works equally well on all your iOS devices and doesn’t distract you with in-app advertising. However, all this awesomeness comes at a price—20 smackers, to be precise—but it’s a small price to pay for the convenience this app provides.

List Sender

List Sender essentially performs the same primary function as TechScout Touch, Lighting Edition and Camera Order, but while those apps come with huge databases of professional gear, List Sender comes with nothing but a cute icon. It’s this total lack of preexisting content that makes the app so versatile. In List Sender, it’s up to you to create templates (the app’s name for databases) and populate them with items.

For instance, if you work in the grip department, you could build a template that includes all the grip equipment you might ever require on a typical shoot. Then, when it’s time for a tech scout, you could draft an equipment order (or list) on site by selecting desired items from the grip equipment template you created earlier. Adding items to your list works just like it did in T.S.T.L.E. Find the item you want, and then tap the plus symbol to add it. When your list is complete, you can e-mail a nicely formatted copy to your rental house, your producer, or your mom. (Trust me on this; she’ll treasure any e-mails you send.)

Using these same techniques, List Sender can be customized for any department. Because you’re the one creating the templates, there really is no limit to how the app can be used. That said, building templates takes a lot of time, especially if you’re particularly thorough. It’s up to you to decide whether the effort is worth the reward.

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