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.
Tom D’Angelo has worked in television production and AVL corporate theater for nearly four decades. He is Emmy Award nominated (Best Director category, Mid-Atlantic) and has been part of various teams nominated or winning national Emmys. As the Media Director at a megachurch in the 1980’s he developed a love for the Church and church performing and technical artists.