Have you ever seen a behind-the-scenes video from a feature film and the movie Director is walking around with what appears to be a film camera’s viewfinder attached to a film lens with a pistol grip? That’s called a “Director’s Viewfinder.” It allows the Director to see for himself/herself what a particular lens’ focal length will produce in field-of view. They use this to visualize a scene, insure that the lens will capture the view needed, as well as to determine where a camera must be located subject to the other factors.
Whether shooting a film, commercial or a church video, it’s helpful to pre-visualize what the shot will be … or what focal length lens will be required to achieve the artistic vision. A Director’s viewfinder accomplishes this task using analog means through the actual film lens, but it is now possible to accomplish the same electronically with just a iPhone or an iPad.
At the recent FILO conference break-out session entitled “Using Cinema Cameras for IMAG” conducted by Kaleb Wilcox and Craig Vincent, Vincent shared how important it is to plan carefully a large sensor camera’s placement and lens choice to achieve the desired field of view. The tool he uses is Artemis Pro. Artemis Pro turns a iPhone or iPad’s camera into a Director’s Viewfinder.
If you are planning on shooting with one of the many Super-35mm sensor cameras currently out there, or a DSLR or M4/3 camera, or maybe are thinking about various Blackmagic cameras and are not sure what optics (including still photography lenses) may or may not work, Artemis Pro at $29.99 may be a good investment.
One important note however is an accurate preview of a shot is limited to the extreme wide angle field-of-view of one’s phone. On my iPhone 8 that is about equivalent to that which a 20mm lens would give you on a Super35mm sensor camera. If you select a lens wider than the phone can optically accomplish, Artemis overlays a matte approximating the total field of view.
Additionally, while Artemis Pro can be utilized for 2/3″, 1/2″, 1/3″, 1/4″ video camera sensors models, the current version of Artemis Pro lacks lens presets common for these cameras. While its possible to use Artemis Pro for video camera optical calculations, I find it clunky.
One feature I really like is the ability to take a still of any pre-visualization, inclusive of the camera type selected, aspect ratio, focal length, date/time, address (including latitude/longitude), bearing and tilt angle settings when the shot was taken.
This feature could be really helpful when scouting locations or creating storyboards.