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5 Ways To Use an iPad in Video Production

While iPads may not be on the cutting edge of tech circles these days, the iPad is still a valuable video production tool. Here are five ways that we use the iPad in video shoots.

Many industry experts have already written off the iPad. Declining sales, the rise of iPhones, and consumers’ slow rate of upgrading from previous versions have all contributed to the rumored “death” of the iPad.

While iPads may not be on the cutting edge of tech circles these days, that doesn’t mean you should let yours collect dust. The iPad is still a valuable video production tool. Here are five ways that we use the iPad in video shoots. Please note, most of these examples can just as easily be used with other tablets.

Field Monitor

Any experienced producer or crew member knows that there can never be too many screens or viewing monitors on set. Take a look at your camera’s manual to see if it offers any type of remote viewing options. This is a fairly common feature offered with popular cameras like the Canon EOS C100 Mark II, GoPro and others with WiFi options.

In all honesty, the resolution may not be the highest, but we find the iPad is a great viewing monitor for clients. It’s small enough to fit it in your gear bag without taking up a lot of space, too. Grab an iPad case and stand like the Wallee System from Tether Tools for an even sleeker look (Figure 1, below).

Figure 1. Tether Tools’ Wallee System iPad modular case and stand. Click the image to see it at full size.

Another great way to utilize your iPad is as a remote viewer in those situations where you may be operating multiple cameras as a one-person or skeleton crew. Having the ability to monitor your camera and settings from one position versus running back and forth between camera positions will save you a lot of time and energy!

The Digital Director

Take your iPad viewing and camera controls even further by investing in the Digital Director by Manfrotto, a full workflow management processor (Figure 2, below). For a little under $400 (USD), this tool works for video creators using DSLR cameras made by Nikon or Canon. The Digital Director is an Apple-certified electronic device that connects your camera and iPad via a USB cable to help manage the video workflow. It gives you full control of aperture, white balance, shutter speed, start/stop, focus, ISO and other video setting.

Figure 2. The Manfrotto Digital Director. Click the image to see it at full size.

This is a nice tool to use when placing your camera in remote or difficult positions because it allows the videographer to conveniently and remotely control camera settings. This comes in handy with timelapses, aerial perspectives, and even self-recordings.

Clapboard

The clapboard or movie slate is a must-have on any video shoot. Of course, one of the best ways to use a clapboard is to create sync points when working on multi-camera productions. However, it’s not the only way to use it.

Even on single-camera setups, I find the clapboard is a critical tool for capturing production notes, sharing camera settings and keeping things organized overall. Applications like Movie Slate (Figure 3, below) can turn your iPad into an interactive tool that will “wow” your clients and give your productions a little more oomph.

Figure 3. PureBlend’s Movie Slate 8 digital slate, clapboard, and shot log app. Click the image to see it at full size.

Shot lists, multi-cam features, and even the ability to generate reports for Adobe Premiere Pro, Prelude, and Final Cut Pro are just some of the benefits that these apps offer.

Of course, these apps are available for your smartphones, but I find it way more comfortable to use the advanced tools on larger devices like the iPad. Believe me, your editor will also appreciate the notes coming from a larger display when deciphering things in post-production.