Storyboarding vs. shoot planning

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.

scene-planning-patent

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.
weshoot-iphone
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).

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2 comments
  1. It’s interesting to see Apple expand its market further. I don’t see the likes of studio directors using this technology, but it definitely passes the consumer market and into the prosumer market, to be sure. The technology doesn’t quite hit the pre-vis abilities that exist for the likes of Fincher or Jackson, and I don’t think we’ll quite see this nudging into their workflow. It’s certainly in the mid-range, and will probably be picked up by a number of tech-savvy independent filmmakers as it grows…. Interesting and informative…

  2. annoyed said:

    Just what we need… More useless crap for some iPhone freak to throw at us on set pretending it is a real and useful application that justifies his waste of time and money. iPhone slates, iPhone stopwatches, iPhone anything related to the real world of filmmaking is a toy, a novelty, an annoyance…

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