Author of “Cinematography: Theory and Practice” and “Motion Picture and Video Lighting”
I recently downloaded Lighting Designer for iOS. My first two reactions were “this is fantastic” and “where was this app 35 years ago when I was getting started in the business?” Of course, when I was getting started, people didn’t even have personal computers, so there’s that problem.
Not only is it easy to draw plots and even a plan of the set itself, you don’t need to use generic symbols for lights — there is a selection of hundreds of them already built in. You can choose a Diva 30, a Celeb 201, an Arri Skypanel S120, a Tungsten 5K, a 1K PAR, a Source Four or almost anything else. You can then adds gels and diffusion, which are tagged on the plot. When you add a light, you can specify what stand you want for it and then stands, c-stands, gels, diffusion, etc. can all be printed out as a report which is called “the Truck.” Common props and set pieces (couches, lamps, doors, windows) can also be added from a list and placed where you want them. You can specify if lighting units are on stands or in the grid, the DMX channel it’s on, and more.
An extra bonus is you can also create a crew list and if the crew members name, phone and email is in your contacts list, they can be added automatically and all this — the plot, the lighting and grip order and the crew list can be sent to anyone you wish: keys, the production office, the rental house, whatever.
All around a well executed piece of software. Very easy to use also.
Author of “The Black and Blue”
Very few cinematographers I’ve worked with have walked onto a film set without a plan. Maybe their plan isn’t yet fully-formed, but they at least have some idea of what they want to do. And in terms of planning, many cinematographers (and gaffers) like to make lighting diagrams — maps of a location with characters loosely blocked and equipment labeled on it.
Lighting Designer hopes to enable that in the digital age. Now more than ever, we are ditching tasks thought better left to a pen and paper to an iPad. And the beauty in Lighting Designer isn’t just that it translates a paper diagram into a digital one, but that it does it even better.
If you have poor drawing skills or you simply prefer the cleanliness of thick, solid lines, Lighting Designer makes diagrams more colorful (used for labeling different kinds of lights) and easier to understand. Once you have a diagram finished, you can email it out to your respective crew.
Not only will this help cinematographers wrap their heads around complex scenes during pre-production, but it will help best boys, gaffers, and AC’s get an idea of where a shoot is going. And it’s amazing how much time a production can save when grips, electrics, and the camera department all know exactly what needs to happen equipment wise to get the camera rolling.