Phoning it in

Except for the poor old sound-recordist, we all know that one of the most (if not the most) invaluable tools for people working on a film set is the mobile phone. More recently phones have changed the way film-makers work. They not only act as a way of contacting/updating people, they can also act as sat-navs, a source of entertainment during a slow patch or even a camera/video recorder. That’s before we even get into some of the other useful apps which are out there.

I’m a rather old-fashioned sort when it comes to mobile phones and think they are overpriced and somewhat of a money pit (much like cars: expensive to run, always a better model just on the horizon). You get ripped off left, right and centre on pricey tarifs. Plus Despite being in the “communications” business the people who run the services seem incredibly deficient when you try to talk to them. I feel just like this chap! I don’t utilise my mobile as a “portable computer” like so many people do. No browsing the web, checking email, updating twitter, playing Angry birds, taking instagram photos (Facebook+$1 billion=plot lost!) etc. At my most advance I may use it as an alarm clock, send a text, but it’s mostly used for its original purpose “as a phone”. Sadly I can things need to change. The days of carrying my trust “brick” around are truly numbered. Last Thursday could well have been the final straw!

The phone has been a bit flaky sending messages recently. If I leave it on overnight it sometimes sits in a comatose state and doesn’t send or receive messages (unless I do that IT thing – switch it on and off again). Last Thursday I was supposed to meet with Sherilee for our first Spare Change production meeting. It very nearly didn’t happen! We usually meet at a pub out in the country half way between where we live. Before I set off, I checked my email and phone: no messages for either. So I set off for my 20 minute drive. When I arrive at the pub I’m running a bit late. Sherilee isn’t there which is odd, as she is almost always early. Therefore I go to the bar to order a drink. Time goes by. More time. I look at my battered and trusty mobile, no messages or signal. Concerned I decide to contact Sherilee. I head outside to do this. After waving the damn phone around like a lunatic for a few minutes, I finally get a reception. Then up pop 4 text messages from Sherilee, three of which say “Did you get my earlier message?”. Great! When I tried to respond it didn’t send anything, so I begin waving my arms around like a lunatic again. After receiving a “Sim not registered” message (?), I resorted back to turning it off and on again. Feeling the phone has it in for me, I decide to head off. Part way home Sherilee did actually manage to get through to me., so I stop and take the call. Finally we manage to  meet up. Phone do make it easier to meet up, don’t they? So time to get with the times, I’m going to miss only having to charge a phone only once a fortnight.

So which way to go? There seem to be two choices – Android or iPhone. I am thinking Samsung Galaxy type thoughts at the moment as I believe they are really catching up with the likes of Apple. Many of my friends have iPhones. To be honest I think they either sheep or have too much money to burn (just joking!). iPhones do seem rather pricey, but I can’t deny they are easy to use. I do have a few issues with the companies ethics when it comes manufacturing (feel free to Google this, although admittedly Google play for the other team!). I adore the Sun Scout app on iPhone – very useful for film-makers! We used this app on Etiquette to work out where the sun would be for the external shots. I also see sun surveyor on Android does this, plus there is another called Sundroid. Talking Android, we also used the Slate-it app on the film. It’s no substitute for a real clapper board but does a reasonable job and it’s free! I hear some of the Depth of field calculators are very nice too. It’s sad that the one thing which gets me exciting about getting a new phone will be the film-making apps I can put on it!

Clapper - there's an app for that!

I’m happy for people to suggest any recommendations for good or bad phones/great film apps (iPhone/Android) etc. Actually I encourage it, please do! Ultimately I don’t care which side of the fence I sit as I find all these Mac vs PC or Premiere vs Avid vs Final Cut Pro arguments pointless! As film-makers we should have exposure to all tools out there and be able to bring the best bits from all.

In the spirit of keeping the communications alive, please be sure to check back to this blog on Friday (20th), when I have a special announcement to make.

Over and out!

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