There are a lot of good filmmaking apps available today: MovieSlate, Artemis, Sun Surveyor, Shot Lister, and pCAM Film + Digtal Pro to name a few. We can now add Cine Meter II to our list of helpfuls after running into its creator Adam Wilt at a DCS event in Burbank. If you’ve never heard of the app or don’t know Wilt, you’ve come to the right place.
Adam, you’re a complete tech nerd. Can we high-five about this?
I prefer the term “geek,” though I do fit in the “nerd” overlap on the famous Venn diagram… and, apparently, in the overlap on the xkcd Venn diagram, too.
Haha. Well played. How did you end up fluttering around the film and television industry?
I made a short film for English class in eighth grade (Super 8, double-system sound, wild sync) and I was hooked; an actual film class the last two years of high school sank the hook deeper. Ever since, I’ve been doing bits of freelance production, from PA to location audio to cam op to 1st AC to DP to live broadcast technical director to editor/colorist and back again, in no particular order.
First summer job was as a PA/lab runner for an animation company in Virginia, working on viewscreen displays for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Summer job in grad school and full-time afterwards was as a programmer at Circuit Studios, developing the Velocity3D animation system: the world’s first real-time 3D solids-modeling system for broadcast (this was the mid ‘80s). We sold four of them before the company went bust.
Since then? Mostly deep code and UI design for broadcast products and productions at a variety of companies: Abekas Video Systems, Louth Automation, Pinnacle Systems, CBS, ABC, Omneon Video Networks. For the past couple of years I’ve been freelancing on various projects, like an archival film scanner and, um, “future products” for Video Devices.
You’ve also been working on your app Cine Meter II. Can you tell us who should consider using it?
It’s a light meter and lighting visualization tool for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. It’s aimed at cine and video users who need to measure light and/or look at it qualitatively with visual aids: a false-color display and a waveform monitor. The design emphasizes usability first and foremost, not emulating the look and feel of physical meters. So I’d say “everyone should consider using it,” but I would say that, wouldn’t I?Definitely. You put a lot of functionality into the app. What are the program’s abilities?
It’s a reflected-light meter using the camera in your iDevice. With a recent iDevice and iOS version, it’s a zoomable spot meter, too. You can use the front camera for “light meter selfies” when you need to meter the lighting balance on a face and you’re the only model handy.
You can display the camera’s picture in false color with adjustable levels, so you can see at a glance where your shadows and highlights are and where your midtones are falling. There’s a waveform monitor with luma, RGB, and YRGB modes for a graphical representation. These tools are great for lighting cycs and greenscreens; you can immediately tell where you have hot spots or falloff. The RGB WFM is handy for checking color separation on bluescreen and greenscreen materials and setups, and for seeing color mismatches in mixed-lighting environments.
The app gives you cinematographer-friendly control over its readouts: digital aperture values for cameras with in-viewfinder readouts, or full stops and fractions for cine lenses. You can adjust shutter speeds or shutter angles, while seeing both values simultaneously. You’ve got ISOs from 32 to 409,600; frame rates from 1 to 5000 fps; ND filters from 0.3 to 3.0; and a separate compensation setting with a +/- 5 stop range for adding arbitrary filter factors.
You mentioned it integrates with Luxi. What does adding the photosphere give users?
Cine Meter II uses the $30 Luxi photosphere for incident readings, including Lux/foot-candle measurements. With the upcoming version 1.6, it’ll read color temperature and tint, too.
Cine Meter II also supports the $150 Lumu for incident metering, though it won’t read color temperature using Lumu.
The app is only available for Apple devices. Is there any talk about developing a version for Android?
I’ve had lots of requests for it, but I need a serious block of free time to look into it. The best I can say is, it’s on the list, but don’t hold your breath: my schedule’s pretty full for the foreseeable future.
Is there anything comparable out there in the market?
There’s the original $5 Cine Meter, which has the same false-color and WFM and very basic reflected metering, but nothing else I’m aware of that combines both visual tools and exposure measurement. Beyond that, there are plenty of light meters in the App Store and on Google Play for Android. If you’re getting a Luxi or a Lumu, both of them have companion apps; why not start there?
Whatever app you get, make sure it allows for calibration and that you do calibrate it. iDevice camera brightness readings vary both between models and within model lines (I’ve seen over a stop variation between two iPhone 5s), so calibration is needed for accurate results – unless you get lucky.
Are you looking to incorporate any updates now that you have some feedback?
Cine Meter II itself is a result of feedback from Cine Meter, and I keep a list of suggestions and improvements. After 1.6 comes out, I have another measurement mode to add, some changes to improve low-light sensitivity and reduce power consumption, multi-reading comparisons and calculations, and a variety of UI improvements. I just haven’t had time to implement them yet – there are plenty of improvements still to make.
Subway or Quiznos?
Cold: Subway Veggie Delight on Parmesan Oregano. Hot: Quiznos Veggie Guacamole on Jalapeno Cheddar.
A movie everyone should watch?
Um, just one? Citizen Kane? Eraserhead? Diva? Fight Club? The Fifth Element? Ida? – OK, maybe not Eraserhead, not unless you dream the way David Lynch does. But if you do, that and Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks Episode 30.
Better superhero: Catwoman or Wonder Woman?
In Catwoman’s favor: Julie Newmar. In Wonder Woman’s favor: the Invisible Plane. And, well, the idea behind Wonder Woman. Sorry, Ms. Newmar.
More enjoyable: lazy Sunday or Disneyland?
Can you have a lazy Sunday at Disneyland?