In which I take an Apple patent and suggest that it could form the basis of a new collaborative on-location application for the cloud, iPhone and iPod Touch for TV and film makers.
Storyboards are fine in principle, but crews need to use enough setups to cover enough angles to capture the drama so that directors and editors can later tell the story in ways that that they didn’t plan.
The recent patent granted to Apple is more about shoot planning than storyboarding. Instead of creating a comic-book simulation of a potential film, it helps movie makers plan how to cover the action in a scene.
In a potential ProApps product, Apple imagine using the script to plan where characters will stand, how they’ll move and where the camera will be to film it, and possibly where the camera will be when getting different close-up, medium and wide shots.
Another aspect of this patent (according to the text at the World Intellectual Property Organization) implies that the output of this system wouldn’t be paper printouts to go with script sides. As at least two of the authors are from Apple’s iPhone team, maybe this system is about creating and maintaining a model for how production will proceed.
A model that location managers, art directors, set dressers, continuity people, crew, caterers, actors and the post-production team will have continual access to using digital technology – on browsers and iPhones (which may be in Airline Mode some of the time).
This tool should have post-production uses too. It might replaced lined scripts. For an explanation of lined scripts (and how they are used with Avid’s ScriptSync feature), read Oliver Peters’ article on his blog.
Instead of lines showing number of setups and number of takes being written on the script, the editor will be able to look at the footage captured in the context of the scene in 3D-space. It’s interesting that Apple might now attempt to introduce new organisational techniques that supplant the methods used over the last 75 years.
As an aside, this is the first patent that reminds me of a book. If it comes to pass, this system will help you plan your film following the tenets of Daniel Arijon’s Grammar of the Film Language – a useful director’s text from 1976 (check out the positive reviews on Amazon).